New Fronts: Signs of the times

Two city businesses have taken advantage of an Adelaide City Council pilot scheme encouraging businesses to be creative with their shopfronts.

With the Shopfront Improvement Grant Program, businesses in the CBD and North Adelaide can apply for grant funding between $1000 and $6000 to cover half the costs of improvements to their shopfronts. The program initially focused on businesses in North Adelaide’s O’Connell and Melbourne Streets, the city’s West and East End precincts as well as Hindley Street, Hutt Street and Gawler Place. With the program, Council looked for shopfront ideas that: enhance the presentation of a building or business; improve accessibility for all users; contribute to amenities and more interesting and exciting street experiences, and that make a creative or unique contribution to the streetscape. The pilot scheme received 30 applications, and more than 50 enquiries. One of these businesses is Ebenezer Place’s Hey Jupiter. The cafe is halfway through its upgrade, as the Paisian-inspired cafe wanted to overhaul its blank wall. “Our first idea was to make it a complete green wall,” says Hey Jupiter’s co-owner Jacqui Lodge. “The logistics and cost of that forced us to rethink it, so we came up with the idea of tiling it like a Parisian metro station and just put a green wall around the entrance.” With the tiling now complete, the next step is to have ‘Hey Jupiter’ painted onto the middle-frame of the tiled wall by famed local artist and signwriter Tristan Kerr. “Tristan is really interested in fonts and typography and has lived in France, so he knew exactly the typeface that is used in the metro stations.” Lodge says their original shopfront wall felt detached from what the team does inside the cafe. “The new tiling really ties it in and gives us more ownership of the space and gives our business a bit more of a presence. It just makes sitting outside much nicer and we think it makes the streetscape much nicer, too.” When Hey Jupiter started the project, the shopfront scheme didn’t exist. The cafe asked if Council would contribute to its green wall, as greening city streets was part of the Council’s brief. “We were told they didn’t give grants for things like that. So we put up the green wall on our own and had to start saving for the tiling. In the interim, we spoke to a few other people in Council about it and I guess someone listened because eventually this new Council scheme came along. “We really wanted to do it right, we believe in the little details. It was important for us to have the right kind of metro tiles in the right colour, even if it meant shipping them over from France and waiting four months for them. Same with Tristan, he’s a busy guy, but he completely understood what we needed to make the completed project look that much better. These things do cost, so the help from Council means we can do it exactly right and faster than we could do it on our own. We also have another idea for our shopfront, so this scheme makes that idea really worth looking into. It can help make the difference.” Another city business that has upgraded its shopfront with help from the scheme is Grenfell Street’s Harrison Music. The family business recently added a neon sign. Graeme Harrison says the addition is important because even though the shop has been located on Grenfell Street for more than 20 years, people still have trouble finding it. This isn’t the case now. “I thought back to some of the iconic signs I’d seen when I was a kid visiting Adelaide and realised our second generation family business needed something to attract attention,” says Harrison. “My first thoughts were maybe for an ‘all singing, all dancing’ cowboy wildly strumming a guitar but as I reviewed our tiny window space, I realised that wasn’t going to happen. “I Googled other neon musical instrument signs and was slightly underwhelmed by most of them due to their lack of detail. I thought perhaps we could have the best of both worlds, with the realism of the genuine instruments plus the excitement and colour of the neon outlines and suddenly the planning started to come together. I called Corey from Signlab at Alberton to see if he thought they could help us make it happen. His enthusiasm and passion for great signs encouraged me that this was a project worth doing.” Harrison says the neon sign gives the shop a different feel. “We just love the colour and life that the sign gives out. It sends a message that not only are we here and serious about our business, but also that we love nice things and, like the instruments we sell and the music we all love so much, we like to share our nice things with others.” This article was presented by the Adelaide City Council.

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