Food for thought, concept stores reactivating shopping strips

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OPINION: OVER the last 18 months I have loved watching the evolution of fabulous Foodstores. All around Melbourne there are numerous artisan bakeries and delis opening up offering the availability to buy pre-prepared take home meals.

Gone are the tasteless frozen supermarket dinner offerings and replaced with fresh, healthy options. Food has become much more sophisticated and accessible if you don’t want to cook for yourself.

What I love about these new foodie concept stores is that they are activating many high streets as well as neighbourhood strips.

For example “Morning Market” in High Street, Prahran (the brain child of Andrew McConnell) is situated on the corner of High Street and Grandview Grove – there are some tables and chairs on both corners and has become a hub to grab a coffee as well as Baker Blu bread, Meatsmith meats, deli items, sandwiches, fresh flowers and tons more. Zelda’s bakery opened earlier this year in Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea. They are open on a Wednesday and a Friday only and there are endless queues on either day. No surprises why, her bread and pastries are beyond incredible.

On the other side of town, Smith Street, Collingwood is home to “Falco Bakery” where on any day there are lines down the street for their signature sandwiches, breads and coffees. As well as another Morning Market in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

Many years ago in London, it was very chic to host a dinner party and serve food out of the Marks & Spencer serving packs which really was ahead of its time with their enormous selection of take home meals. More recently chef and caterer Andrew Blake has opened a wonderful concept store called Blake Away. They are in Armadale, Glen Iris, Brighton and Portsea. The selection of food is fantastic from coffee, pastries, gourmet sandwiches, pre-prepared meals, desserts, Asian dumplings to gelati and ice-cream. Another new foodie in High Street, Armadale is “Victor Churchill Butchers” the fit-out is like something out of Paris or New York – you can buy a selection of produce or sit at a stunning circular bar and order anything from oysters and caviar to fillet mignon.

Retail leasing is my passion and uncovering and leasing these innovative new stores brings a new dimension as a leasing agent. Since Covid, hospitality tenants stepped up their offering, some of the well known restauranteurs partnered with Providoor who were able to offer takeaway meals that were as good as being in the restaurant. Some people are still reticent to eat at restaurants and having such delicious take home meals has been an exciting new way of entertaining and dining.  People want to support their local village shopping strips. Particularly where you can buy everything in the same place.

As a leasing agent, we are constantly sourcing the best tenants who can pivot their business through any economy/lockdown. We have seen the closure of banks, newsagents who were strong retail tenants and there has been a growth in other retail services, allied health and hospitality.

Repurposing retail shops has brought about offices taking retail shops, an example is a law firm taking the ex-Henry Bucks store in Toorak.

Landlords are now considering shorter lease terms and structuring incentives with more flexibility.

Belle Property Commercial have successfully leased a variety of properties all around Melbourne with a strong number in local strips such as High Street, Greville Street and Chapel Street.

After a long wait, I am super excited for the Leaf Foodstore to open in High Street, Armadale mid 2022. I had followed Leaf in Elwood many years ago and was a great coup to get them into 835 High Street, Armadale.

By Tamara Gross, Director of Retail, Belle Property Commercial.*

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