Are We Seeing A New Breed Of Shop Opportunity?

I've mentioned that I've been upgrading my Bondi property by adding new apartments to it out the back of the existing commercial building.

To not disturb the tenants (or at least as little as possible), I opted for a prefabricated modular building design. It means that the buildings are built in a factory and delivered and installed very quickly.

It takes the actual on-site construction time from 9 months to 4 weeks or thereabouts. It was the convenient way to build in this instance, but it got me thinking…

I was reading an article about shipping containers changing the landscape of the city.

We've all seen (I'm guessing) crazy tin-foil hat preppers using shipping containers as Armageddon bunkers for all their end of the world survival paraphernalia.

With millions of shipping containers out there, and an increasing trend to smaller more sustainable housing, we're seeing more and more stories of people using shipping containers as housing, sheds, workshops, pop up stores and more.


Down in Vic market in Melbourne, there's now a whole section of the market which is cafe's and shops all housed in shipping containers.

A bit of imagination and there's a lot that can be done with the space contained in the walls of one of these metal boxes.

From a commercial standpoint, they also come in very handy for adding additional rentable spaces for storage. If you have a hard-stand area on your commercial property that could be perfect for buying in a bunch of smaller containers to use as a storage facility.

Even out the back of a shop if you have a carpark with rear lane access, you could fit one or more of these things and create another source of income for your property… but I'm thinking that we could get even more creative than that.

When you look at the stores and cafes at Victoria Market they are quite clever in the way they've opened them up.

Get onto pinterest and search for shipping containers and you'll find a multitude of ideas for small living spaces, micro cabins, and other uses.

Now I'm not saying that using a container as storage isn't a good idea… I think they can be brilliant for that purpose, but I'm starting to think that if you have the space… well, the mind boggles.

Just for the fun of it imagine, having a large block in a retail area and moving in a bunch of containers to be used as popup shops. Renovate then to look like little micro shops and boom; you've got your own mini shopping centre.

Obviously, I'm just shooting the breeze and thinking out loud. You'd have to get that sort of plan through council, but the winds of change are happening, and if you can realise an idea like that, then now is the time to do it… before the price of shipping containers starts rising like a Sydney penthouse.

The idea is already there. As part of the rebuilding process in Christchurch New Zealand, post earthquake, entire shopping malls have sprung up entirely from shipping containers. Obviously the circumstances there are extreme but the fix is not. Shipping containers are cheap, readily available and a solid way to get shops happening quickly.

I can foresee that this could not only be something that you could set up to run on your property but that your shop real estate could also be something that could be easily transported and quickly deployed to anywhere where a tiny micro shopping centre is needed.

The world is changing and while many councils are stuck back in the early 19th century, the creative amongst us are the ones who can push the changes, develop new ideas and bring new life and new uses for transportable shops.

What other used can you think of for shipping containers? How else could you see these things being used?