Sunday, 18 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 18/8/2019

Following our article a couple of weeks back about sourcing goods overseas, one of our Traders reports that he was forced to go to China to source some key products when local suppliers stopped importing. The local suppliers were responding to the general downturn in business, and by-passing them to go direct to the source has worked out well for this Trader.

There is a rumour that the Summer Night Market footprint may not include F Shed Traders this year. Keeping the Night Market full and busy adds to a successful atmosphere but it would be unfortunate if fewer Traders were exposed to the Night Market opportunity.

The media reaction to our new food delivery service has been huge with multiple articles across the traditional and social media spectrum. One Trader observes that there is now equally huge pressure to get this right. He hopes the Traders who participate are well prepared.

With seemingly bad news on TV and in the papers all the time at the moment, one of our Traders says he has a new daily resolution – get all his customers to leave with a smile.

You will be pleased to know that Spring is in the air according to one of our market experts. Guru Pete says the bees have started buzzing around the planter boxes and Pete is always right.

Apparently a group of Traders have incorporated “Chocolate Day” into their working week. They take it in turns to buy and share a couple of blocks from the Melbourne Cocoa Company in String Bean Alley.

And to the Trader who said we wouldn’t publish his joke – “What vehicle does a sheep drive – a utility.”

A Trader says the news in the latest Trader Bulletin that Chinese tourists are now more likely to shop individually instead of through shopping groups is very positive. Tourists being siphoned off to over-priced souvenir warehouses is hopefully on its way out.

Traders Encouraged To Take The Plunge

A combination of changing customer preferences, competition, and financial realities is encouraging many Traders to take the plunge and change their trading arrangements.

Changed trading arrangements may involve giving up days, down-sizing, or moving stalls. It makes sense to cut out the unprofitable aspects of your business and experiment with new arrangements. For some Traders this is a cause of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Reacting to changed trading conditions is a smart move and can have significant financial and emotional benefits. In times of great change flexibility is important, and most changes can be reversed when things improve. Some PE Traders have expressed concern about giving up stalls but giving up a stall doesn’t change your trader status. Stalls or trading days can be added down the track.

If you find there are days that are just not worth trading at present, talk to your Precinct Manager and find out your options. You may be surprised at how easy the process is. Ultimately we all want happy profitable traders who are best prepared for difficult trading conditions. Trading at QVM has inherent flexibility and it makes good sense to use that flexibility to enhance our profitability particularly in tough times.

Have Your Say – click here.

Latest Retail News – 18/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 18/8/2019
1. Queen Victoria Market goes online.
2. Dairy Co-op, Fonterra, predicts $560m full year loss.
3. JB HiFi advises record sales and profit for 2019.
4. NRA ends takeover talks with ARA.
5. Owner of Emporium posts 72% fall in profit across Australia as tough retail conditions bite.
6. Blackmores annual profit plunges.
7. Spendless Shoes sold to Novo.
8. Target to focus on higher quality goods.

Age Proposes Two Shifts At QVM

An interesting editorial has popped up in The Age this week as the media outlet expresses its views on how QVM should operate.
The article published on Wednesday suggests that QVM must adjust to changing times and is more than its heritage-listed sheds.
In relation to two shifts it says – “The Age supports the plans to expand the Queen Victoria’s night market and sees no reason why the venerable institution could not have two shifts: a traditional morning market for shoppers and an evening market for diners. The key is outlining a vision and communicating the potential benefits to, in particular, the long-suffering traders.”

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

QVM In The News - Fresh Produce Online - 14/8/2019

Heritage does not equate to standing still. The Queen Victoria Market is more than its heritage-listed sheds, and to survive and thrive, it must adapt to ...

In what is possibly the sweetest music to any Melburnian's ears is the announcement that the Queen Victoria Market now has an online shop, meaning ...

Queen Victoria Market now delivers, so you can order duck eggs and local cheese from the comfort of your couch. • Get fried chicken and waffles with ...

Grocery shopping at Melbourne's iconic Queen Victoria Market walks a fine line between delightful and harrowing. While there are rows upon rows of ...

Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market is driving the 19th century marketplace into the digital age by bringing its fresh produce online. The famous ...

Melbourne's iconic market place is set to revamp it's shopping experience for customers by offering a online shopping and delivery service. Queen ...

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 11/8/2019

A Trader loves the line in Beat Magazine’s report on QVM – “String Bean Alley – the place to bean.”

“The Caped Crusader” – is the name Guru Pete gave to Ronnie (of the Fabulous Juice) this week as Ronnie engaged with customers looking for guidance around our market.

There has been some criticism of an article in the Age this week and reference to a sinking ship and cheap goods on sale. In fairness, CEO Stan Liacos was talking about the need for change so the boat will not sink, and Leah Moore’s reference to “cheap leather goods” was probably more about discounted prices than cheapness. It is sometimes difficult to get the right point across when a newspaper report is the arbiter.

A Trader recalled the times when he would sell bolts of cloth at country markets where business was brisk because country wives could not get access to those things. Finding that special niche that meets unsatisfied demand is the secret to good trading, but where does that niche lie in today’s digital world?

The chocolate shop in String Bean Alley has been asked to stop handing out samples of their chocolate until they install a sink and hygienic washing equipment. Health rules are important but sometimes they really sound like overkill to general observers.

A customer from the north asked a Trader if the afternoon storm on Sunday would put a stop to trade for the day. The Trader said “No, the sun will come out again”. You could tell by the look on the customer’s face that they didn’t believe the Trader, but this is Melbourne and the sun did come out again.

Letters have been sent out to a number of SL licensees to restart the licensing program that was put on hold for renewal. The licensing structure will not impact on PE Traders. And a Trader asks what level of investment would be needed to get an extended license (4 years instead of 2)?

Another Trader asks if there is a break out clause in the new licenses. If the Trader is forced to leave the market, does the license obligation cease?

Trader, Yakov, apparently featured on the TV News on Saturday as he proudly wore his Hawthorn Football Club scarf following their win against the Sydney Giants.

This week’s “Artic chill” reminded one Trader of the day he complained to his Russian trading neighbour about the cold only to receive the reply “You should try living in Siberia for a few months” – Yep, it is all relative.

Volatile Mood Under The Sheds

You could say this weekend’s Trader mood was volatile. Poor business, unfavourable press, and concern over some license renewal letters that went out during the week all had impact. Add in a TRC agenda item about a demerit points system for Traders and the drums were beating loudly.

Demerit systems are unlikely to get a good reception from independent business people like QVM Traders. As one Trader said many of us refused to accept our School Headmaster’s instructions and probably one reason we ended up at QVM is because we wanted greater freedom in our business lives than regular employees are able to achieve.

Toeing the line is not our strong point, but the observation was made by another Trader that if there is to be a demerit system it should apply equally to all. There are rules that we want our neighbours to follow, and most Traders believe that bad behaviour should be policed. The last thing we want is un-structured preference being shown to some Traders over others. A carefully balanced, structured points system would treat everyone fairly.

Let’s not go too far down this track because the subject is up for discussion at the next TRC meeting and more will be revealed in due course. But perhaps we can make one suggestion – change the name - drop the Demerit Point nomenclature and call it a Trader Community Co-operation Rating. That sounds a lot more positive and something we might even have accepted from our School Headmasters.

My Second Best QVM Meal Ever

Friday was one of the coldest days I have endured at QVM. My phone said it was “7.7degrees (feels like 3)” but soup for lunch was an absolute warming experience and was probably my second best meal ever at QVM.

With the usual soup supplier in SBA absent due to the “Artic winds” forecast for the day, it was time to venture over to Romeo & Theresa’s Cafe(*) in F Shed where there was a choice of chicken or minestrone soup on the menu.

I ordered one of each and the chef asked for a bit of time while he heated up the soup on the stove and prepared some thick china bowls so that the meal would stay hot even with customer interruptions - a very considerate chef.

The soup was served up with crusty bread and the chicken soup was delicious. There must have been half a chicken’s worth of meat in the bowl and the proper china did its job, keeping it hot right down to the last spoonful. The minestrone also received a big thumbs up. There is something about genuine Italian home cooking.

My best ever meal at QVM was a humble cauliflower pasta dish with a hint of anchovies and garlic which I had many years ago but still remember as a standout dish. It was also from Romeo & Theresa’s.

We have some great food at QVM. The choice is almost endless and generally offered up with a big dose of good advice and friendly engagement - just one more reason for loving where I work.

By Greg Smith

* the sign in F Shed says Romeo’s Take-away, but in this business you ignore Theresa at your peril.  The banter between Romeo & Theresa, (and with their customers) makes this a very worthwhile destination, and the home cooked style food is great.

Latest Retail News – 11/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 11/8/2019
1. Retail spending in June up 0.4%
2. Australia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo, fined over unfair contracts.
3. Queensland declares Christmas Eve a Public Holiday with ramifications for penalty rates.
4. Country Road launches their first ever teens collection.
5. Menswear fashion brand, yd., to open 15 concessions in Myer.
6. Nick Scali lifts profit for 7th year in a row but says housing slump limiting performance.
7. Kathmandu records 2.7% lift in same store sales.
8. Aldi growing three times as fast as competitors.
9. King Living launches showroom in Canada.
10. Walmart pulls violent video games posters after mass shootings.

Retail Articles Worth A Read - deaths, revivals, and more.

Neighbourhood Goods breaks the retail mold and guarantees a new shopping experience every time you walk in -

The falling Australian dollar may be important in helping us through global trade wars -

QVM In The News - 11/8/2019

One of Melbourne's oldest and most treasured assets - Queen Victoria Market - will announce on Monday that its fresh produce can be bought online ...
The revitalisation of String Bean Alley comes as part of City of Melbourne's $250 million renewal of the Queen Vic Markets, and Lord Mayor Sally Capp ...

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 4/8/2019

It turns out that the elderly customer mentioned in last week’s Heard Under The Sheds looking for his family name on the String Bean Alley barge board was in fact Mr. Wing Chinn from H Shed.

Trading Hours have once again dominated discussion in the Upper Market this week with 9-3 on weekdays and 9-4 on weekends gaining some support. One Trader pointed out that the new proposal would result in one less trading hour per week compared with current hours.

And some more support for summer trading hours with a Trader suggesting that 5pm closing could be become an option later, but best introduced in summer when crowds are more likely to linger.

A Trader asks why the fairy lights in SBA can’t be switched on during the day, particularly on dull winter days. He believes they add great atmosphere.

And a new measure of a quiet day according to one Trader is the lack of queues at our toilets over in A Shed.

Another Trader has commented that festivals in A Shed can have a good impact on surrounding trade, perhaps better than festivals in Queen St. He believes it is a better buzz under the sheds.

Indian Festival in A Shed

 A Trader’s worst nightmare occurred this week when his neighbour took some time off and there was no replacement from the casual Trader pool. With an empty and ugly stall next door he felt like his trading neighborhood had been converted to slums overnight.

A few Traders were seen tidying their stock, and repairing displays on Friday. That’s what you do when things are really quiet.

A Trader pointed out that online retailing may be a curse for traditional retailers but it can also be an opportunity for buying stock. He has picked up a few very profitable lines by browsing various online suppliers, particularly in China.

A customer from Hong Kong on his first visit to Australia says he is very impressed by the friendly and co-operative attitude of Australian retailers including QVM Traders.

A Trader says he was happy to get his first sale for the day but he was really hanging out for second sale, because then he could go and buy breakfast. Sometimes we have very basic needs.

Article Worth A Read – 4/8/2019

A new force in US retailing is university shops.  Substantial numbers of consumers are engaged in campus activities and major retailers like Target are taking advantage.

Target in the US pushes ahead with smaller format stores -

Buying Opportunities For Traders

Online suppliers are often seen as a curse for traditional retailers but they can also be a great source of unusual and profitable goods for market traders.

There is a huge and diversified range of goods available from online marketplaces like Ali-Express. In the past, retailers have relied on wholesalers to bring them goods but now it is much easier to go direct to the supplier yourself.

Often you don’t have to purchase large quantities so experimentation is easy. But even if there are substantial minimum purchases, you can often find a similar product on eBay to test customer reaction, and then go direct to the manufacturer/supplier once the product has been proven.

Many traders have found very profitable products using online buying, and even if customers know that your product can be purchased cheaper online, the fact that you have it available now is a strong buying incentive.

One trader has suggested that you keep your purchases under $1,000 to avoid goods being embargoed by Australian Customs. He says that is not to avoid tax or customs payments but simply to streamline delivery. A one week delivery can stretch out to one month by the time Customs write to you (bizarrely they use snail mail), ask you to fill out customs forms, and then release the goods.

There are a number of guides about buying wholesales from sources like Ali-Express and simple product searches using the term “wholesale” may give you other useful leads. “The world is our oyster” and the online enemy can become the market trader’s friend with a little research. Good luck!

Latest Retail News – 4/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 4/8/2019
1. Victoria takes top spot in economic growth ahead of NSW.
2. ACCC calls for reform to Google and Facebook domination of digital space.
3. Victoria Bitter produces a tea that smells and tastes like beer.
4. Citi Bank claims retail conditions will improve through 2019.
5. David Jones cuts its value by $413m.
6. Ralph Lauren to open five new stores in Australia.

QVM In The News - 4/8/2019

A bold plan to shake up the hours of operation to the Queen Victora Market has recieved mixed reactions from stallholders. Chief Executive of QVM ...
As long as you're not overly superstitious, a trip to the Queen Victoria Market (usually shortened to Vic Market) is one of the essential activities to tick ...
Two nights a week, the couple and three of their five children, aged 10 to 22, and volunteers drive to Queen Victoria Market to cook and hand out fresh ...
A proposal to alter the trading hours at Queen Victoria Market — the first change in ... The market currently shuts at 3pm on Saturday and 4pm Sunday.
Partners include Preston Market, IGA Supermarkets and the Queen Victoria Market. Ms Jones said they had regular donations of citrus fruits, leafy ...

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 28/7/2019

This weekend’s Indian Festival was held at the top of A Shed which meant that organisers could operate over two days and leave their stalls set up overnight. On Sunday at least the crowd seemed to rival that of the Truffle Festival, and in typical Indian fashion there was a lot of noise and some great fragrances from the variety of foods. Another benefit of the A Shed location was that the festival was able to operate into the evening and some nearby QVM food outlets reported they were operating well past their normal closing time as they took advantage of the crowd.

A bit of history - An elderly customer was seen standing in a SBA stall on Wednesday night, staring up at the ceiling. He was there for some time, and Trader, Mary, was quite puzzled by his presence. It turns out his family used to have a String Bean stall many years ago and he was looking for their business name on the back of the gutter barge board. If you check our photo you can see that some of the names show through the paint. The elderly customer was a child at his parents stall so SBA goes back a long way. Mary's stall is called Retro Mamma, and she is pretty chuffed with the historical connection.

By the way – a whole aisle for string beans suggests they were a much more popular food than today.

The debate over proposed new trading hours has raised many conversations and much condemnation particularly over the proposed 5pm closure on weekends. One trader said she would like to see different times for the different seasons. She maintains that 5pm may be OK in summer but probably not in winter.

One of our stall setupperers/packdownerers (please help me with a better term – Ed) says that 5pm closing would be out of the question for him. He would tell his clients they will have to find someone else to work through dinner time.

One Trader wants to know what all the fuss is about. "The proposed hours only involve one extra hour of trade a week."

A customer walked into the Night Market with a very large white rabbit perched on his shoulder – yes, a rabbit. He was quickly asked to leave by security staff – something about unleashed animals in a public space. The customer and the rabbit refused to comment.

There are rumours of more containers to come to the Upper Market, most likely in the A-E Shed sector.

A Trader says that there is currently a major focus on experimentation in the retail industry and he would like to see more freedom for traders to try new ideas at QVM. 

Have Your Say - click here.

This Week's Big Issue At QVM

Well, there is no need to guess the hot topic under the sheds this week - proposed changes to trading hours have largely drawn negative responses from traders, particularly those who feel their home/family life will be compromised.

Of course the proposed hours are intended to correct another serious compromise forced on traders - reduced earnings caused by changed consumer preferences and extreme competition.

We know that some, maybe many,  traders will be unhappy with 5pm closing on Saturdays and Sundays. Some open stand traders will be lucky to leave their stalls before 7pm after packing up. By the time they get home, organise dinner............ well, you get the picture.

It is true that many of our fellow retailers out in traditional shops already cope with those sorts of hours. It is also true that clawing back some of our lost business may involve some change (read sacrificing current lifestyle).

But perhaps the biggest unknown is whether the later weekend trade will actually generate extra business. There is a graph showing peak weekend pedestrian times in the city (see below - the vertical redline is placed at 5pm) which seems to support later weekend trading but will that translate to business at QVM?

Interestingly, there appears to be little argument with 9-3 on weekdays (food is 7-3). One of our long term traders says she is prepared to consider 9-4 on weekends and she might have a few friends.

Have Your Say – click here.

Latest Retail News – 28/7/2019

Latest Retail News – 28/7/2019
1. Crabtree & Evelyn to return to Australia with new concept stores.
2. South Australia experiences record tourist spend.
3. David Jones cuts Head Office jobs.
4. Bunnings expands click’n’collect to Victoria.
5. Bankruptcy of luxury US department store, Barneys, puts focus on high rents (*).
6. Lamb prices reach record highs.
7. Coles launches homewares range in similar move to Aldi.
8. KFC launches first “drive through only” outlet in Newcastle.
9. More Lego stores to open across Australia.
10. Credit card use declines as “Buy now, pay later” trend booms.
11. Shoplifting is on the rise in Australia.
12. Retail wage under-payer claims award is simply too confusing.
13. Low or no-alcohol drinks booming according to UK report.
14. Luxury retailer, LVMH, says sales up 15%.
15. K-Mart opens NZ’s first 24/7 store.

QVM In The News - 28/7/2019 - Featuring A Number Of Traders

The pair mainly sold their garments online before opening their first bricks-and-mortar store at the Queen Victoria Market in June. “It's been a really ...
Damien, Geoff and Neil Prosser have been selling fresh seafood to the people of Melbourne from Queen Victoria Market (QVM) since 1931.
After Terence Port's parents immigrated to Melbourne from South Africa, their first business move was to set up a stall at Queen Victoria Market (QVM).
Queen Victoria Market (QVM) has unveiled Melbourne's newest laneway experience, with String Bean Alley officially opened on July 19.
By Sean Car. The City of Melbourne has welcomed a recommendation to extend heritage protections at the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) to include a ...