It’s now a little over a week since Australia’s on-premise industry was forced to close in the Government’s first stage of restrictions to respond to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
But even before then as things were starting to look dire, we witnessed some great many innovations and brilliant acts of support and togetherness (while still meeting social distancing guidelines of course) coming from the industry. It’s inspiring to see this continue today in the midst of devastation.
One of those inspirational creations is Hospo Threads, a non-profit marketplace that acts as a one-stop-shop for people to find local venues they can support during this rough time. It’s free for venues to list themselves, and free for people to access.
Hospo Threads comes from Co-owner of Sydney’s Burrow Bar, Chau Tran, who started things off by making Burrow Bar an ecommerce website when things started looking bad. As the situation worsened, she saw first hand the heartbreak in the industry.
“It is horrible watching an industry built on being hospitable, making other peoples’ happiness their first priority in a physical environment – come through our last week of service looking broken, lost and bereft. It was honestly the worst thing to see and the feeling of being so helpless was awful,” Tran said.
“It’s fucking terrifying when the way we’ve done business has been disrupted in such a crippling way. We didn’t have time to plan a strategy, every day was a new battle and we were doing it on the fly. It got me thinking that if our patrons can’t support us in-venue, then they can support us from afar. All of us, across the country and countries.”
Wanting to do something to help, Tran and her brother TJ worked together to form Hospo Threads, bouncing ideas off each other and using their combined backgrounds of skills to bring the concept to life.
Tran told Bars and Clubs: “Hospitality is my one true love, co-owning Burrow Bar with Bryce McDonough, I can’t tell you how happy it makes/made me, walking through those doors. TJ makes a living helping companies build start ups and has always helped me refine the most hair-brained and really wild ideas. Together we can build a website pretty quick, right now we have the first stage of the site up.”
That first stage is pretty incredible already. Hospo Threads has 15 listings (with more on the way) that direct visitors to a venue or group’s own ecommerce offering. For those that have the means to support local businesses in such a devastating time for our world, it’s an easily navigable directory of some of the best ways they can help.
It’s open to all types of venues, even internationally, and aims to give them a digital footprint to start selling straight away. Orders are taken and fulfilled by the venues directly through their own sites and payment gateways.
“This evolving marketplace is meant to direct people to buy merch, sauces, pickles, whatever the venue, wherever the venue or producer is able to sell and ship. It’s also my attempt in trying to remove the barrier for customers that want to help and don’t know how or who to help and where to go to do it,” Tran said.
Hospo Threads is a not-for-profit, venues just need something to sell and a way to sell it. But for those that don’t have a site, they are also trying to help with coding and options to get set up.
Tran said: “This is a project stemmed from love and feeling like I could use my skills whilst hospitality was reeling and trying to troubleshoot on the fly when the game was changing every hour with new legislation.”
“It needed to be not for profit. That’s how we roll at Burrow Bar. We’re a small bar with big hearts. Some ways we do business probably aren’t fiscally sound, but gosh there are bigger things in life and we’ve always believed that.”
For those that aren’t sure where to turn next, Tran also has some pretty sensational advice that is sure to put a fire in your belly.
“The game has changed, and it is scary, but we’re creative and wonderful people. It’s time to direct that creativity we use in our venues towards how we do business in a “new normal” no one knows how to handle.
“We need to see if we can campaign together as pockets of venues and how we can do this with the legislation we need to navigate. Sell vouchers, experiences, vacuum seal snacks and get selling online. If you don’t have merch get creative.
“We’re fighters and we can’t back down, because even if a bunch of us burn, we will have an industry that can phoenix out of this.”