whats UP in Bridge Road ?
Over many good years Bridge Road Richmond has been “the” destination for a variety of bargain hunters.
Located just minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, it has long offered a mix of clothing and footwear stores, hair and beauty services, furniture and building supplies, interspersed with cosy cafes and pubs (for mid-stream sustenance) – even hosting those original clever “seconds” warehouses for eclectic furniture, kitchen gadgets and housewares… A clear 2km run of strip shopping, there are no hidden alleyways or basements to negotiate and not a lot seems to happen in the side streets. For the determined shopper Bridge Road offers few distractions from the business at hand….
One of the main attractions along Bridge Road has been the healthy variety of mainstream “high street” fashion factory-outlet shops, clustered mainly between Hoddle and Church Streets. In the not-so-distant past this stretch of fashion heaven attracted hordes of visitors… always on the itinerary of a hosted “shopping tour”, high on the list of “Must Do’s” for Melbourne visitors, or otherwise just a great way to spend half a day
And sure enough, on the Friday afternoon I visited… there was a large “tours” coach idling halfway along the strip, and some shops and cafés seemed to be doing a fair trade. Single shoppers strolled with relaxed but determined purpose, and there was the occasional gaggle of friends – deep in conversation, smart phones in hand – but nevertheless laden down with shopping bags
Like so many (most ?) retail precincts Bridge Road is also currently suffering its share of retail vacancies. Scattered along the “fashion stretch” there are now over 30 dark shops, mostly shouting “for lease” (… and I’m not including those stores with their eternal “closing down sale” signage…). Not all of those empty stores have the vacancy sign hanging out – but they’re obviously not trading. Maybe new tenants have been secured… (or is the market so tough the agents / landlords dont even advertise ?)
‘Though the thing that struck me… with all those vacancies… wouldn’t you think it might present great opportunities for some pop up retail ? Especially for the emerging designers, interstate labels and on-line fashion brands ? Not so long ago there was a pop up installation at 151 Bridge Road (see Pop Up Fashion Gallery) – but currently there’s not a single one along the whole fashion strip. It seemed so obvious – many locations to choose from, within a popular destination known for interesting and unique fashion….
So I found a quiet corner and called one of the local real estate agents (whose name was on several of those “for lease” signs). When I asked him “why aren’t there any pop ups, isn’t anyone interested in taking temporary spaces…?”… he just sighed and said “… you tell me….!”
And so it seems there may be pop up opportunities – properties are available for temporary retail along Bridge Road and there are agents willing to talk short term. The number of vacancies should mean there’s a greater variety of stores, offering different levels and styles of fit-out, perhaps even open to negotiation on the rent and terms of tenancy (?)
Have you opened a pop up shop (or considered having one) along Bridge Road ? What has been your experience within this precinct – would pop-up work for you, are the agents truly approachable ?
featured image : Google images
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