Hotdog shop Dognation almost cuts the mustard in one of Melbourne’s smallest retail premises

Hotdog shop Dognation almost cuts the mustard in one of Melbourne’s smallest retail premises
Hotdog shop Dognation almost cuts the mustard in one of Melbourne’s smallest retail premises

Three square metres is all it takes to run a hotdog shop, apparently.

Possibly Melbourne’s smallest retail food store, Dognation squeezes into its tiny alleyway nook like a sausage into a bun.

The owner of the morsel-sized shop, Seong-Lee Ang, thinks it’s the smallest food shop in the city.

“Our leasing agents said they have never heard of anything as small as three square metres for a food shop,” says Ang.

He says demand is high for small unique spaces like the one he has and places are hard to find.

“We get a lot of people who would be dying to take the space we’ve got because it’s one of those iconic things for Melbourne. Especially for little laneways, they’re always in really high demand.”

Ang pays a higher than usual price per square metre but ultimately pays very little given the size.

“On a square metre basis we pay probably double the going rate. But compared to the total annual rent of other shops it’s not much.”

Leasing agent Andrew Hewett from Fitzroys says the shop was originally leased for $4000 a square metre with two years ago with 4% annual increases.  

The novelty of such a small shop is part of the draw for consumers, Ang says.

“The talking point of us being in such a tiny spot has been a really big thing, besides the product itself,” he says.

“It is a big factor to us to say what is our productivity out of such a small space, and there are definite advantages from a cost point of view.”

Ang seems attracted to strange locations and plans to open another branch inside an espresso bar on Southbank next month.

“We’re doing a store within a store concept. Using space within a different shop and creating a small brand within a brand. We are essentially a lunch trade only, so we can take advantage of the lunch hours within the other shops.

“It’s a private arrangement, it’s not an official sublet. We’ve got a connection with the owners of the espresso bar, it’s an internal arrangement.”

But it’s not the only tiny shop in Melbourne though. On the way back from visiting Dognation, Property Observer popped into Switchboard for a quick coffee.

Owner Joe Sayers says the kitchen area for the coffee shop is just 1.8 square metres, but there’s enough room for a coffee machine and two staff. The former cigarette booth now has seating opposite in what was formerly the building’s switchboard. Switchboard even offers a limited food menu so perhaps Dognation isn't top dog with its claim to miniature fame. Maybe it's time to play ketchup.

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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