SNAG A BAR­GAIN

ROB IN­GRAM KNOWS HOW RE­TAIL­ERS CAN PUT A SIZ­ZLE IN SALES — IT ALL STARTS WITH A HUM­BLE SAUSAGE.

Country Style - - FIELD GUIDE -

WE DUCKED INTO TOWN ON SATUR­DAY

for a cou­ple of life’s ne­ces­si­ties — brake pads from Su­percheap Auto and a folding tres­tle ta­ble from Bun­nings. “Well I don’t think I’ll need to cook din­ner tonight,” said The Cho­sen One on the way home.“couldn’t eat an­other thing,” I agreed. “Whose did you think was the best?” Busi­ness was buzzing at both places and this au­gurs well for both the re­cov­ery of re­tail trade in Aus­tralia and the eco­nomic growth of the coun­try it­self. Now, re­tail busi­ness sur­veys tell us that the re­tail en­vi­ron­ment re­sponds to process sim­pli­fi­fi­ca­tion, con­sol­i­da­tion of cen­tral func­tions and out­sourc­ing of ‘non-core’ func­tions. Some­how, they’ve over­looked the sausage siz­zle — the very strat­egy that has made Su­percheap Auto and Bun­nings such con­spic­u­ously suc­cess­ful re­tail traders. Con­sider the agony and angst, the de­cep­tion, the cun­ning, the con­tra­dic­tion and the name-call­ing that went in to us fi­fi­nally be­ing able to claim the world eco­nomic growth record, with a stun­ning 0.3 per cent up­surge in the fi­first quar­ter of this year. The com­bined ge­nius of Paul Keat­ing, Peter Costello, Wayne Swan, Chris Bowen, Joe Hockey and Scott Mor­ri­son made it hap­pen for Aus­tralia. A slice of white bread, a sausage and a squirt of sauce made it hap­pen for Su­percheap Auto and Bun­nings. Around the world, re­tail­ers are fo­cused on try­ing to get a han­dle on how con­sumers like to shop. Well, here, they like to shop with a sausage sandwich in one hand. Re­tail sausage siz­zles are, of course, an evo­lu­tion of ‘democ­racy sausage siz­zles’ — the method by which po­lit­i­cal par­ties en­tice vot­ers to polling booths on elec­tion day. A very large pro­por­tion of votes in Aus­tralia are cast be­tween the hours 12pm and 2pm as a re­sult of the Aus­tralian ex­pe­di­ency of get­ting vot­ing and lunch out of the way at the same time. So, there is such a thing as a free lunch, and there’s even an un­of­fif­fi­cial Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Sausage with a web­site which maps out elec­tion day sausage siz­zles. Equipped with the map, the re­source­ful — or ‘re-sauce-full’ — sausage siz­zle ex­po­nent can eas­ily en­joy a free-fi­five-snag-sanger lunch. And how many of our past and present prime min­is­ters have not been caught on tele­vi­sion cast­ing their votes with a haem­or­rhage of tomato sauce on their ties? Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors say the elec­tion day democ­racy sausage is prac­ti­cally part of the Aus­tralian Con­sti­tu­tion, and an­thro­pol­o­gists con­fi­firm that bread, sausage, tomato sauce and op­tional onions are in­deed com­po­nents of Aus­tralian DNA. So whose did we think was best? Su­percheap Auto’s siz­zle had the very real ad­van­tage of be­ing free — a gen­uine ex­am­ple of the re­tailer sat­is­fy­ing the de­sires of its tar­get mar­ket. Bun­nings is a com­mu­nity ges­ture. The Bun­nings chain makes the siz­zle equip­ment and lo­ca­tion avail­able to com­mu­nity groups as a fundrais­ing op­por­tu­nity, so money changes hands. The Su­percheap sausage was smaller but the onions were sweeter, and both clearly min­imised over­heads by sourc­ing sup­plies of yes­ter­day’s bread. It’s all very well for city so­phis­ti­cates to swan around gal­leries and fes­ti­vals on the week­end. But where’s the sense of na­tional iden­tity in that? Our ex­pe­ri­ence made us feel both pa­tri­otic and, okay, a lit­tle greasy. And so blessed that we al­most for­got the tres­tle ta­ble. We need the ta­ble for our up­com­ing vil­lage sausage siz­zle. The sausage siz­zle to end all sausage siz­zles. Ours is a black tie sausage siz­zle.

“BREAD, SAUSAGE, TOMATO SAUCE AND OP­TIONAL ONIONS ARE IN­DEED DNA.” COM­PO­NENTS OF AUS­TRALIAN

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