Mobile Office Reviews: Smith’s Alternative

By 26 April, 2013 24

You can't see a Red Eye in this picture, but it was there.

If you’ve been following the goings on in Civic recently (or keep up with what we write on this site) you’re probably well aware that Smiths Alternative Bookstore has undergone a few changes recently.

For those of you still in the dark here is a quick summary:

Less books.
More gigs.
Raised stage.
April’s Caravan Vintage Clothes Store in residence.
Different owners.
Lost ‘Bookstore’ from its name.
Gained an apostrophe.

Alright, now that we’re all up to speed, let’s get to our Mobile Office Review for Smith’s Alternative!

Technology:

One of our biggest reasons for trying out Smith’s as a workplace was Jorian’s promise that we would have nice speedy WiFi as well as power points available at the tables. We certainly had both of those things. There were places to plug in your laptop all over the shop and it made me feel incredibly happy.

The net was speedy and flawless. Other than Johnboy and myself there was only one other person using it for most of the morning, so it remains to be seen how well it’ll hold up under a heavier load, but for the moment it’s definitely the most reliable public WiFi we’ve used in our office wanderings.

Food:

Not really what they do. We were offered some brownies at one point, but I don’t like chocolate (I know I know…) so Johnboy had mine as well. He seemed quite pleased when he was done.

So good I guess?

Productivity:

The most important category.

Pretty good. The speedy net certainly helped, but Johnboy and I powered through the mornings work. There was great music (the owner Jorian kept running over and fussing with it so I think he was trying to impress us), suitable caffeinated beverages were available, and other than the odd chat with the managers and some customers there was little to distract Johnboy from the task at hand.

Me? I kept getting distracted by the books. Although I like pleasant distractions while working, I find it keeps me awake and happy which leads to better work so I’m still gonna list this as a positive.

Coffee:

Over to Johnboy:

The coffee was unremarkable, competent espresso machine work, but the tea came with a pre-warmed cup AND free refills.

Comfort:

According to RiotACT Comfort VS Fashion Theory, the trendier the place, the less comfortable the seating must be.

The seats in Smith’s were rather comfortable which speaks poorly of the places future as a ‘hip joint’ (no it really doesn’t), but did make for a nice workplace.

The only real concern was the size of the tables. These potential desks are easily big enough for one person to work on, but with John and I together on one we found we were quite snug. We managed to fit both our laptops, drinks, and John’s pot of tea on the desk well enough, but it was rather cramped.

For those that work solo this won’t be an issue (unless like me you really like having enough room to make a decent sized mess in), but if you’re looking to work in groups you’ll have to spread out around the venue or get very comfortable with each other’s personal space.

Service:

Fine, and friendly. The staff were happy and chatty but also respected our privacy and space. All good. Johnboy’s tea pot was refilled when he wanted it to be, which was nice.

There was a noticeable excited, happy, vibe about the staff, but seeing as how they just opened that’s to be expected.

It’ll be interesting to see how the place is running, and what kind of a personality it has developed 6 months from now.

It should be mentioned that there wasn’t a lot of customers in the venue while we were there, and it’s much easier to make a customer feel welcome when you have the time to do so, but I doubt we would have been less looked after if the place were full.

Other People:

Not many. Most of the people who entered were well wishers or curious members of the public sticking their heads in for a minute.

Once again the fact the venue had only really been opened for a small amount of time meant this was hard to judge.

I imagine it’ll get a lot busier for tonight’s gig.

However from a productivity point of view the small amount of visitors was ideal.

Conclusion:

It’s tricky to say, seeing as it’s only day one for Smith’s and there’s no real way to tell what the place will be like in a month’s time after it’s built up some steam, but as it stands now this is easily the best mobile office we’ve come across.

I will withhold my final judgement of Smith’s Alternative for the future, but at the moment it’s is probably the best place to sit down and get some work done in the city… assuming you have enough willpower to not blow your daily wages on vintage suits (I really don’t).

I’ll definitely be working here again, but that won’t stop our ongoing hunt for the finest place in Canberra to rest our mobile bunker.

So where to next?

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24 Responses to Mobile Office Reviews: Smith’s Alternative
#1
poptop3:32 pm, 26 Apr 13

Cafe Ruckus [65 Northbourne Ave] is supposed to be very good.

#2
HiddenDragon11:01 am, 27 Apr 13

The evolution over the next few months will be interesting – if food is “not really what they do”, and the coffee is “competent”, and books are obviously not selling so well, those daytime staff may not have much to do – unless the vintage clothes pull in serious bucks and a steady flow of customers needing attention.

#3
Masquara12:26 pm, 27 Apr 13

When April’s Caravan was in The Front for a while a couple of years back the clothes were whiffy – very offputting around food …

#4
Madam Cholet1:32 pm, 27 Apr 13

What is the obligation of the mobile office worker to make ongoing purchases of goods from the purveyor of the mobile office? Is your initial purchase of coffee and a snack enough to last a few hours or should there be purchases made frequently so the host does not just feel you are making hay with their wifi and taking up a seat?

#5
johnboy1:39 pm, 27 Apr 13

I generally make sure I have a drink on the go at all times.

obviously a pot of tea can take some time…

#6
poetix5:47 pm, 27 Apr 13

johnboy said :

I generally make sure I have a drink on the go at all times.

obviously a pot of tea can take some time…

Not to mention the ambrosia of publicity with which you are feeding the business.

#7
johnboy6:06 pm, 27 Apr 13

We try to fly under the radar

#8
poetix8:36 pm, 27 Apr 13

Bogongs.

#9
DrKoresh9:31 pm, 27 Apr 13

Masquara said :

When April’s Caravan was in The Front for a while a couple of years back the clothes were whiffy – very offputting around food …

They don’t do food at Smiths, aside from some assorted cupcakes and the like, so it shouldn’t be an issue here.

#10
LSWCHP9:44 pm, 27 Apr 13

Hey Barcham, I realise that the RiotAct Media Group is a mighty, mighty international enterprise with an image that must be upheld, but what’s with the collared shirt, vest and tie? I generally get by with slacks and a polo shirt and nobody (well hardly anybody) accuses me of looking like a bum. And some of the people who work for me actually regularly look like actual homeless people, despite their 6 figure salaries.

So, serious question. Do you just like to dress snappily (which is an admirable characteristic in a man these days), or is there a far deeper and more sinister reason for the upmarket threads?

And that’s a nice knot on that tie, BTW. :-)

#11
HiddenDragon10:21 pm, 27 Apr 13

Madam Cholet said :

What is the obligation of the mobile office worker to make ongoing purchases of goods from the purveyor of the mobile office? Is your initial purchase of coffee and a snack enough to last a few hours or should there be purchases made frequently so the host does not just feel you are making hay with their wifi and taking up a seat?

With things tending to be a bit, shall we say, sloooow in private-sector-discretionary-spending-land, the smarter proprietors/managers should be happy enough to have constant signs of life in their establishment – particularly if they’re nicely behaved (and nattily attired), and not using the “free” internet access to download the entire contents of the Library of Congress, or nasty stuff. If it gets busy, and potential sales are being lost, they will usually find a way of giving you the hint.

#12
Pork Hunt10:44 pm, 27 Apr 13

poetix said :

Bogongs.

Sans monocle, I initially saw that as “bongings”…

#13
bundah10:46 pm, 27 Apr 13

Looking very snappy there Barchamp although i’m amazed that you don’t like chocolate,coffee and tea! What’s more not a red eye to be seen..

#14
Pork Hunt10:49 pm, 27 Apr 13

LSWCHP said :

Hey Barcham, I realise that the RiotAct Media Group is a mighty, mighty international enterprise with an image that must be upheld, but what’s with the collared shirt, vest and tie? I generally get by with slacks and a polo shirt and nobody (well hardly anybody) accuses me of looking like a bum. And some of the people who work for me actually regularly look like actual homeless people, despite their 6 figure salaries.

So, serious question. Do you just like to dress snappily (which is an admirable characteristic in a man these days), or is there a far deeper and more sinister reason for the upmarket threads?

And that’s a nice knot on that tie, BTW. :-)

It’s a shocker. What’s with the dimple in the middle of it?
Give me a Windsor knot any day.

#15
Barcham11:35 pm, 27 Apr 13

LSWCHP said :

Hey Barcham, I realise that the RiotAct Media Group is a mighty, mighty international enterprise with an image that must be upheld, but what’s with the collared shirt, vest and tie? I generally get by with slacks and a polo shirt and nobody (well hardly anybody) accuses me of looking like a bum. And some of the people who work for me actually regularly look like actual homeless people, despite their 6 figure salaries.

So, serious question. Do you just like to dress snappily (which is an admirable characteristic in a man these days), or is there a far deeper and more sinister reason for the upmarket threads?

And that’s a nice knot on that tie, BTW. :-)

Two pieces of information about me;

1. I like clothes, and wearing them. I find it takes only a very small amount more effort to dress snappy than it does to dress casual, and that is a small amount of energy I am glad to spend.

2. I am rubbish at all knots, particularly of the tie variety.

Sadly fact 1 and fact 2 don’t work very well together.

#16
Masquara11:30 am, 28 Apr 13

It’s really cute that Barcham’s name is redolent of P T Barnum. The clothes aesthetic is very 19th century travelling showman/boho/used sulky salesman. Glad he’s passed on the bowler hat … though large checks in the trouser fabric would be a good note.

#17
tuco11:46 am, 28 Apr 13

Pork Hunt said :

LSWCHP said :

Hey Barcham, I realise that the RiotAct Media Group is a mighty, mighty international enterprise with an image that must be upheld, but what’s with the collared shirt, vest and tie? I generally get by with slacks and a polo shirt and nobody (well hardly anybody) accuses me of looking like a bum. And some of the people who work for me actually regularly look like actual homeless people, despite their 6 figure salaries.

So, serious question. Do you just like to dress snappily (which is an admirable characteristic in a man these days), or is there a far deeper and more sinister reason for the upmarket threads?

And that’s a nice knot on that tie, BTW. :-)

It’s a shocker. What’s with the dimple in the middle of it?
Give me a Windsor knot any day.

Wall St cleavage. It’s not dead.

#18
Masquara4:17 pm, 28 Apr 13

Shame Barcham doesn’t drink coffee …. he could wear his snazzy three-piece to score a freebie next time! : )

(from Jorian:)

“As of Monday (April 29) Smith’s Alternative will introduce a suspended coffee program – and the service couldn’t be easier to understand.

“When you come into Smith’s Alternative to grab your own coffee, you can also buy a suspended hot beverage for someone else in need … …

“… …we don’t care if you’re wearing a three piece suit or shabby hand me downs, if you think you’re in need of a hot beverage on these very cold Canberra days and we have a suspended coffee on our tally board – you can claim it. No judgement. “

#19
muscledude_oz5:23 pm, 28 Apr 13

Barcham said :

LSWCHP said :

Hey Barcham, I realise that the RiotAct Media Group is a mighty, mighty international enterprise with an image that must be upheld, but what’s with the collared shirt, vest and tie? I generally get by with slacks and a polo shirt and nobody (well hardly anybody) accuses me of looking like a bum. And some of the people who work for me actually regularly look like actual homeless people, despite their 6 figure salaries.

So, serious question. Do you just like to dress snappily (which is an admirable characteristic in a man these days), or is there a far deeper and more sinister reason for the upmarket threads?

And that’s a nice knot on that tie, BTW. :-)

Two pieces of information about me;

1. I like clothes, and wearing them. I find it takes only a very small amount more effort to dress snappy than it does to dress casual, and that is a small amount of energy I am glad to spend.

I try and wear a workout t-singlet and shorts most of the time.

As discussed on RA previously, my body is fricken awesome! :D

#20
c_c™10:30 pm, 28 Apr 13

Word from Smiths tonight that they’re introducing suspended coffees – they’re profit margins are sure to look up now I’d say. Hipsters, if you want to help the less fortunate, choose a donation method where 70% of your donation isn’t pocked as profit by the organisation.

#21
poetix10:34 am, 29 Apr 13

muscledude_oz said :

Barcham said :

LSWCHP said :

Hey Barcham, I realise that the RiotAct Media Group is a mighty, mighty international enterprise with an image that must be upheld, but what’s with the collared shirt, vest and tie? I generally get by with slacks and a polo shirt and nobody (well hardly anybody) accuses me of looking like a bum. And some of the people who work for me actually regularly look like actual homeless people, despite their 6 figure salaries.

So, serious question. Do you just like to dress snappily (which is an admirable characteristic in a man these days), or is there a far deeper and more sinister reason for the upmarket threads?

And that’s a nice knot on that tie, BTW. :-)

Two pieces of information about me;

1. I like clothes, and wearing them. I find it takes only a very small amount more effort to dress snappy than it does to dress casual, and that is a small amount of energy I am glad to spend.

I try and wear a workout t-singlet and shorts most of the time.

As discussed on RA previously, my body is fricken awesome! :D

When you say ‘discussed’, I think you are referring to a monologue…or two. It’s like Hamlet discovered bench presses.

#22
pink little birdie11:09 am, 29 Apr 13

Masquara said :

Shame Barcham doesn’t drink coffee …. he could wear his snazzy three-piece to score a freebie next time!

: )

(from Jorian:)

“As of Monday (April 29) Smith’s Alternative will introduce a suspended coffee program – and the service couldn’t be easier to understand.

“When you come into Smith’s Alternative to grab your own coffee, you can also buy a suspended hot beverage for someone else in need … …

“… …we don’t care if you’re wearing a three piece suit or shabby hand me downs, if you think you’re in need of a hot beverage on these very cold Canberra days and we have a suspended coffee on our tally board – you can claim it. No judgement. “

I think suspended coffee is a good idea makes it worth to go and try the place. free reliable wifi is also good. *simpsons tapped out* *whacking day* *3000 snakes left to collect*

#23
HiddenDragon11:30 am, 29 Apr 13

Masquara said :

Shame Barcham doesn’t drink coffee …. he could wear his snazzy three-piece to score a freebie next time!

: )

(from Jorian:)

“As of Monday (April 29) Smith’s Alternative will introduce a suspended coffee program – and the service couldn’t be easier to understand.

“When you come into Smith’s Alternative to grab your own coffee, you can also buy a suspended hot beverage for someone else in need … …

“… …we don’t care if you’re wearing a three piece suit or shabby hand me downs, if you think you’re in need of a hot beverage on these very cold Canberra days and we have a suspended coffee on our tally board – you can claim it. No judgement. “

So next time a little lost lamb asks me for change in the vicinity of the bus interchange, I can point them to Smith’s for a warming brew while they wait for the bus.

#24
devils_advocate12:44 pm, 29 Apr 13

muscledude_oz said :

I try and wear a workout t-singlet and shorts most of the time.

As discussed on RA previously, my body is fricken awesome! :D

Gotta admire that dedication, especially given how cold it gets in Canberra.

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