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Franchises and brands we'd love to see in Cairns some day

TropicNow recently highlighted 7 reasons the Cairns CBD was rockin' it right now. Here's another 6 reasons to add into the mix.


Before we start, let's get one thing straight: we love local here at TropicNow HQ.

We promote local business, we love local produce and we celebrate local sportspeople, artists, entrepreneurs and innovation on a daily basis.

Hell, if there was a locally made toothpaste we'd probably brush our teeth with it.

But sometimes - just sometimes - we occasionally miss the luxuries of retail life in a big capital city.

We're sure there's been a time when you've looked on in envy as friends from down south gloat and post updates about their latest purchase or experience of something or other we just can't get in Cairns. 

So, inspired by a TropicNow reader who emailed us to ask what it would take to convince Aldi to set up shop in the tropical north, we decided to put the call out to our team for a wishlist of franchises they'd also like to see here.

These were the results, in no particular order (though number 1 on the list below was a clear favourite of all the feedback): 


1. IKEA

The Swedish furniture chain is renowned for its eco-friendly simplicity and Nordic design, but it's also caused more than a few headaches during the self-assembly process when goods arrive back home.

IKEA devotees span the globe and treat a trip to one of its 348 stores as something of a religious experience and furniture items like the famous Billy bookcase garner cult followings.

IKEA caused unbelievable hype when rumours surfaced a few years ago it would open a store in Canberra, one of its first outside an Australian capital city. When the rumours turned out to be true, more than 12,000 people turned up to the grand opening day last year. 

It might be a long stretch to get IKEA to open in Cairns, but there is some hope: Canberra has a population of about 356,000 people. Our regional population is about 280,000.

Throw in the inevitable flow of shoppers from Townsville... and the North Queensland population starts to stack up. How about it, IKEA?


2. Aldi

A bit like IKEA, German supermarket chain Aldi has achieved a kind of cult status among shoppers in Australia with its strange mix of cheap prices, exotic brands, and random items (an Aldi chainsaw anyone?)

As concern and anger at the domination of the supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolworths has risen over recent years, Aldi has been able to find a unique place in the hearts and minds of our nation's shoppers. Particularly for its cheap prices.

According to Aldi's website, its supermarkets are best suited to locations with "an immediate catchment population in excess of 20,000 and be situated on major roads with good access and exposure".

If you ask us, Mulgrave Road seems like the ideal spot for the tropical north's first Aldi supermarket...


3. Uber

Of all the brands on this list, Uber is now the most likely to make it all the way up the Bruce Highway to Cairns.

Despite vehement opposition to the ride-sharing service from the taxi industry and local MPs such as Rob Pyne and Warren Entsch, the state government has just legalised Uber after much debate and a lengthy review.

After sporadic forays into the Cairns markets over the past 12 months - read our coverage here and here - we're keen to see Uber service our city. Competition can be painful in the short-term, but the long-term benefits nearly always benefit consumers and customers.

Let's wait and see what Uber's next move will be.


4. Zara

This is one for the fashion-conscious women of the tropical north. 

Ask any female in the know and they'll tell you Spanish fashion giant Zara offers catwalk inspired-creations for work and play. Parents also dig Zara for its cool kids clothes, which are in relatively short supply here in Cairns.

A global brand like Zara - it has 1600 stores in 77 countries - would also have broad appeal here catering for both locals and tourists.

Fashionistas shouldn't hold their breath for a Cairns store just yet - most of Zara's stores are in Sydney and Melbourne. But just like its IKEA coup, Canberra is also home to one of the coveted stores.


5. Dendy or Palace Cinemas

What's not to love about a cinema that features a cool retro bar serving awesome beer, wine and cocktails?

That's what many cinemas in both the Dendy and Palace chains offer movie-lovers in capital cities.

While they often rely on big Hollywood blockbusters to drive ticket sales, these smaller cinema chains are also more likely to screen cool indie flicks and stage film festivals for die hard cinematic fans.

We can see a neat collaboration between Dendy or Palace and our own Petit Cinema at an under-utilised CBD site in our city's future.