The shopping strip in Port Melbourne, Bay Street, is home to a Thomas Dux supermarket. Thomas Dux is a chain owned by one of the two large supermarket players in Australia – Woolworths – and it differentiates itself by focusing on more expensive but higher quality fresh produce and product lines. The stores are promoted as carry items which are preservative free, free-range, organic and generally ‘good for you’. The store is done up in faux-market style. The printed signs are supposed to resemble blackboards, there are creates made of wood, and there is even a little cart with its own roof for specials.
In a suburb where people so often celebrated the working class history, I expected to find resentment of Thomas Dux, but that was not the case. While I never set out to ask people their feelings towards Thomas Dux, many people volunteered positive assessments of the store. The gap between what I heard and what I thought has left me with some questions to ponder: what do people like about Thomas Dux, why did I start off with such a negative attitude towards Thomas Dux, and are people more likely to volunteer positive assessments in the first place? That I have more questions than answers about Thomas Dux probably demonstrates that I do not know as much about Port Melbourne as people sometimes joke that I do.
The interface of the store with the footpath is possibly what I found off putting. The street front of the Bianca building, in which Thomas Dux is located, is not completely a straight line, with frame protruding out from the windows and the front wall of Thomas Dux able to be opened up onto the footpath. However, I still found myself puzzling over how they could have their advertising boards protruding out along the building edge when the City of Port Phillip is so big on footpath trading not interfering with people being able to shoreline (use a cane to navigate) along the edge of buildings.
That said, I did purchase food from Thomas Dux, and so maybe if I lived in Port Melbourne my view of the store would change. After all, it was pretty handy to come out of the gym and be able to grab something that looks good to take along to share at a meeting.