I write often about the successes and failures of small businesses in Fitzroy, including how the area is used to test new business ideas that sometimes become very successful and lead to the creation of franchise empires.
I sometimes get comments from readers that I am too critical of businesses. This is not my intention. My aim is to offer a pragmatic critique and interpretation of something that is rarely written about.
I write from a consumer’s point of view about how businesses present themselves to me and treat me as a customer. Too much writing about consumer oriented businesses is banal marketing rubbish that assumes that customers are gullible automatons who will buy whatever they are told to. I don’t like being treated like this.
A donut shop recently opened on Brunswick St where Timis gelato used to be. It appears to be a caterer and wholesaler who has chosen Brunswick St as its first retail outlet.
Big Lou’s website features terrible copywriting with numerous errors, including no spaces after full stops. I’m a professional writer and editor so naturally I am pedantic about such things, but beyond my personal distaste for such amateurish efforts I also think that this poor presentation has a negative impact on many educated middle class consumers.
It’s not in a business’s interest to discourage potential customers but that is exactly what places like Grumpy’s Green, American Vintage and Big Lou’s are doing with their poor writing. My theory is that a business cannot be a success if its aesthetics are less sophisticated than those of its audience. Ta-co’s choc shock cafe was a typical example.
Can Big Lou’s be a success? I’m not sure. You have to sell a lot of small items like donuts to pay the rent on Brunswick St. Is the product unique or special? No, and it’s not new, like churros were to the general public a few years ago. Donuts are not a trendy product enjoying an upmarket resurgence like chocolate or craft beer.
I’ve been watching local businesses long enough to be able to predict with a degree of accuracy whether a business will succeed or not. Rhombus surf shop and The Wick cafe are two businesses whose viability I questioned at the time and was proven correct about.
I predict that Big Lou’s will not be a success and it is unlikely to remain on Brunswick St beyond a year. It’s nothing personal. I wish the owners well, but their enthusiasm is not enough to make them a success. I simply can’t see them selling enough donuts to prosper there.