“Semper aliquid novi Africa affert”: Pliny

Don Saunders and his Cater Cart...

Roman historian Pliny the Elder famously declared:”There is always something new out of Africa.”  

I had a little chuckle to myself today as I read a news report about Don Saunders, a Kiwi entrepreneur who has developed a street-vending cart in which to sell cold (and hot) refreshments.

I grew up in Rhodesia and have vivid memories of the fleets of tricycle refrigerator bikes owned by the country’s leading dairy processors and retailers, Dairibord and Lyons Maid. These were pedalled by beaming ice-cream vendors who would position themselves strategically next to school gates at home-time, patrol the sidelines during cricket and rugby matches, and cruise down leafy suburban streets ringing their bells to advertise their creamy wares.

... and the Zimbabwean equivalent!

These companies combined ‘bottom of the tree’ commercial acumen with good old Rhodesian know-how and #8-wire ‘can do’ mentality to churn out a great many of these bikes. Their insulated boxes could keep a wondrous selection of Rockets, Choc-Dips, Cones and Strawberry Tubs frozen through the heat of a central African summer’s day. 

There is, of course, a wider PR point here. Mobile point of sale, if done properly, can be a fantastic way to foster consumer loyalty. Like many thousands of Rhodesians I have great attachment to the Lyons Maid and Dairibord brands. They’re indelibly associated with high days and holidays, thanks largely to the cheerful chappies who pedalled those bikes around town.

No wonder Tip Top is interested in doing something similar.

I don’t know when the last of these bikes was made (possibly 20 years ago or so?), but many are still being used in Zimbabwe today. Slightly dilapidated, for sure – but going strong. Don Saunders is on to a good thing!

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