Why are these small business owners so entrepreneurial in this city?

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Cape Town taxi rank above train station
Cape Town taxi rank above train station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to say that I must reveal my bias when it comes to new retail formats and new business ideas in Cape Town. The thing is that I lived for the better part of 20 years, growing up in Cape Town and perhaps have an inborn bias for the vibrancy of the city.

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Claremont I was looking for some basic art supplies and because there was no art shop in Cavendish Square I asked around at the information kiosk and was told to go behind the shopping centre where I would find an art shop.

When I got to the business “Art Jamming” I was amazed to see a large studio with easels and paint all over the floor like a kaleidoscope. I found out that this is a new business idea where people, especially families with children, can come in, buy a canvas at various prices, and paint to their heart’s content. No drawing or painting skills are necessary and artists are on hand to help or provide inspiration.

The paintertainment can be used for team building and birthday parties. The business also has a mobile studio that can be set up at events. This new art entertainment concept has been expanded to other locations in Cape Town as well as Johannesburg.

This innovative art business reminded me of many other retail innovations that have been birthed in Cape Town. When I was editing a retail supermarket magazine many years ago I knew a bit about the history of some of the larger supermarket chains that began in Cape Town. Chains like Pick ‘n Pay, Clicks and Pep. In more recent times I’ve come across the retail formats such as the Old Biscuit Mill which as exported its entertaining food concept to Johannesburg.

What is it about the Cape Town market place that spurs this innovation? Could it be the demographic in the suburbs just outside the city centre that provide a much more tightly-knit and diversified potential customer base? Does not having a large industrial base and natural resources such as minerals and metals force local business people to come up with innovative ways to make income?

If you can’t visit Cape Town for ideas, then go here for inspiration: http://eepurl.com/wFbHb


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