Monday, 18 November 2019

In Defence Of Stuff - Rant Warning


I am sick of people running down “stuff” as gifts particularly at Christmas time. The new age approach (or is that millennial approach) is to give experiences rather than stuff. Well sorry, but experiences are soon forgotten, while “stuff” hangs around.

And the “forgotten” bit becomes more relevant as you get older. I don’t remember my 70th Birthday but each day I am greeted by these wonderful gifts from my Grandaughter which reside on my office desk. 


The plastic bottle, incidentally, has little supermarket giveaways in side which add movement and colour as you shake the bottle. Both the bottle and the graphic are gifts that keep on giving.

And yes, there are life experiences that keep on giving as well, the first date with my wife probably a standout. But there is a place for stuff. Stuff brings back memories. Stuff decorates. Stuff reconnects with people and events. And stuff can be very functional. One of my favourite gifts (after the plastic bottle) is my watch – a mechanical masterpiece that will last for 100 years.

Maybe society is simply over reacting to “stuff”. Yes, we do need to watch how much we consume. Yes, we do need to save the planet. But along the way, functional, attractive, meaningful, or even whimsical “stuff” has its place. And yes, some of that stuff can be donations to communities in need so they can buy stuff designed to improve life.

Am I biased? Let’s be honest – this is a retailer talking. Many of us rely on consumers buying “stuff” to earn a living. I just think we need some kickback to a trend that might be based more around laziness than a desire to give something meaningful. My Grandaughter had this nailed.

By Greg Smith

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 17/11/2019


Jehovahs Witness delegates sighted already. It is a week out from the Jehovah’s Witness conference at Marvel Stadium but delegates have already been seen in our aisles.

A Trader points out that it is now 4 years since the last JW conference and a lot has changed in the world economy since – perhaps we shouldn’t assume a sales spike this time.

New evacuation process? It was probably simply a timing error by a contractor but when a truck pulled up adjacent to the toilets at the top of String Bean Alley at 3:10pm on Sunday, and started pumping out the ladies toilet, the effect was almost immediate. The combination of noise and very unpleasant smell cleared a nearby café in seconds. At least one Trader was forced to leave their stall until the smell subsided. Maybe a lesson for evacuation co-ordinators worried about getting a response. Smell can be a very powerful activator.
Follow-up: Apparently the toilets were in danger of overflowing and being closed down. The decision was made to do a quick pump out rather than close the toilets. 


Renovations in C Shed include some good old fashioned wood-working as repairs are made to timber posts. A Trader sent us this photo.

Repairs in C Shed are being conducted with as little disruption as possible but one Trader suggests the tradies could be asked to turn down their radio during trading hours. Traders are prohibited from playing loud music at their stalls and perhaps tradies could comply as well. 

Still on C Shed – a Trader asks why we can’t board off the construction area so it looks less like a construction zone. 

String bean Alley Traders have been given approval to trade on Thursday 21st November prior to the Jehovah’s Witness conference.

Google mail problem. Google is an important search option for businesses and getting your business to show on Google requires an application and a confirmation of your address. The problem is that Google send you a letter in the mail to confirm your address, and QVM don’t accept mail for Traders. Well actually they don’t accept mail except for Google mail. One of our Precinct Managers confirmed that a letter from Google will be delivered to your stall to enable registration. 

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – Three tape measures exploring the Amazon jungle were captured by cannibals. The lead tape measure said “Take me to your ruler.”

Concerns on Monday that the Jehovah’s Witness website was only showing fresh food on its QVM information page quickly got a response from our Marketing Team with new photos introduced, and a complete listing of all the Trader special offers for conference delegates including food and Specialty Merchandise.

Next Wednesday's Summer Night Market season opening is expected to go off with a bang helped by live bands from the Melbourne Music Festival and a 32 degrees temperature forecast.



An Artists View Of Our Market



Photographer Andrew Bertuleit was walking along Queen St one Tuesday evening when he caught sight of this compelling view of D Shed. He quickly raced back to his shop for a camera. Unusually the shed was completely vacant of any facilities having been used for a special purpose that day. 

The glare of the sun as it set in the west, and the unusual pattern of shadows combined for a stunning shot. Thanks Andrew.

Tough Times In Retailing & Blaming The Wrong Things


There are lots of reasons why retailing at QVM is really tough at present but many we have heard over the past week are probably not relevant.

We all want to understand why business is so unpredictable. Understanding leads to corrective action, but if we don’t get the right understanding it can simply lead to frustration and sometimes even anger.

A common complaint in recent weeks concerns stall transfers, changes to permitted use, and the introduction of new Traders. These new arrangements will often change the competitive mix in the market and competition is a powerful dynamic. But each of those three ingredients (stall transfers, permitted use, new Traders) have compelling reasons for our full support. Without them, our ability to tackle this retail revolution is compromised.

Clearly we need new Traders. We have plenty of empty stalls to fill and new Traders add interesting new elements to our offer. We don’t want duplication but some crossover or competition with existing Traders can be difficult to avoid.

Changes to permitted use can change the competitive dynamic but we all need the flexibility to tweak our offer and address changes to consumer buying patterns. Part of our role as retailers is experimentation.

For similar reasons, stall transfers can be an important tool for Traders looking to adjust their offer, trial new trading arrangements, and ultimately get a better response from customers.

Management have a big responsibility here. They need to give Traders flexibility, encourage new Traders to the market, and minimise clashes. Many Traders recognise this is a tough job.

Poor business is caused by lots of reasons but at present the over-riding reason is low consumer demand. Low consumer demand is identified as the primary cause of retail decline across the globe. A competitor moving stalls, or adding products, or a new Trader with “similar” lines, is not the cause of our dilemma. On the contrary, retail is a fluid industry requiring freedom to change, adjust, and introduce new features. Our survival probably depends on it.

By Greg Smith

Latest Retail News – 17/11/2019


Latest Retail News – 17/11/2019
1. Coles partners with Sainsburys for new private label range.
2. Singles Day (11/11) takes US$1bn in first minute.
3. Australia’s Swisse, A2, Bubs, and Blackmores were big players in Singles Day.
4. Amazon to launch new supermarket brand. *
5. All Coca Cola Australia brands now available in recycled plastic containers.
6. Singles Day is Chemist Warehouse’s biggest online event.
7. Retailers downgrade their Christmas expectations.
8. Ebay introduces buy now, pay later.
9. Woolworths introduces Metro style supermarkets to Caltex service stations.
10. Footwear giant, Accent (Athletes Foot, Skechers,Vans), takes over online activewear retailer, Stylerunner.

QVM In The News - 17/11/2019


Nifra Poultry, a premier butcher store located at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, announced the release of new poultry and game meat products.
I met the Italian students and their Australian peers at the Queen Victoria Market, as they were ready to explore the city. Aside from the market, the ...
... the Argus Building, ACMI's Basement, Queen Victoria Market and the uninhabited former Royal Women's Hospital getting an overhaul for the annual ...

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 10/11/19


The Attraction of Dumplings - A customer was timed waiting 40 minutes in a queue at Monday’s International Dumpling Festival.

A first for one of our Traders when he was offered a small sample of marijuana by a customer as thanks for handing over his business card on Saturday. The customer then made the mistake of offering a sample to a Market Officer. Not the smartest promotional activity we have heard of.

Passionate dispute between two Traders may benefit neighbours – this story started off innocently enough with a Trader declaring they had baked some Lemonade Scones. Their neighbour quickly pointed out that scones made with lemonade are NOT true scones. Apparently lemonade is supposed to add an airy quality to the scones but our complainant insisted that scones made properly did not need aeration. Some spirited discussion followed and it was agreed that a bake-off should be conducted so neighbouring Traders could settle the issue. Double whipped cream and a variety of jams have been proposed. We hope to bring you a result soon.

The Dumpling Market on Monday experienced one of the severest rain storms ever seen in SBA. Red dominated on the radar, but the downpour didn’t seem to dampen the appetite for dumplings under the sheds. That of course is one of the advantages of holding events at QVM – the show goes on despite the weather. The queues for dumplings were long but String Bean Alley Traders have called this “The Dumping Market”.  

The Jehovah’s Witness web site for the upcoming convention includes tourist advice for attendees but no mention of QVM. That didn’t stop attendees coming to QVM last time and we know that our Marketing Department have organised QVM special offer brochures for the visitors.
PS - there is in fact a separate website that lists things to do at the convention including QVM. The page shows trading hours and how to get to the market. See it here.

Last week’s complaint in Heard Under The Sheds about new signs confusing customers on the top walkway has brought a quick review from the QVM Marketing Department. Expect some modifications soon.

The Lucky Tree Saga – Ronnie Z has quite a collection of fauna around his van, and during his recent absence for van renovations he farmed out two of his lemon trees to neighbouring Trader, Tony. When Ronnie returned to claim his trees Tony refused saying that for the few days Ronnie was away, the trees looked really good at his container, and brought him good luck. He wanted to keep them. News got out about the “good luck charms” and at one stage a tree mysteriously disappeared into a stall in a neighbouring aisle. We believe that the trees are now back with Ronnie but this story proves two things. Firstly, any suggestion of good luck charms can create quite a frenzy. Secondly, Traders really do have too much time on their hands. Both are consequence of quiet trading.

A Trader is delighted that a quick phone call to the Small Business Mentoring Service earlier in the week got him a visit from a mentor and he is now on the path to setting up a Facebook/Instagram presence for his business.

Another Trader reported that he made his first Instagram post this week and has new followers already.

According to one Trader, all the publicity about our new trading hours is really great. He believes that the market should be constantly informing the public about our hours.

And on those new hours - A few Traders are keeping tabs on sales in the extra hour Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And the results so far? - let's say that the public might need more time to realise we are open later.

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – “Why didn’t Santa come to work? Because he was given the sack.”

The Current State Of Retailing


While sales continue to struggle under the sheds at QVM there are a few things happening out in the wider retail world that give cause for concern.

Perhaps leading the concern are reports that the recent Federal Government tax concessions are not filtering through to retail. When Kevin Rudd opened the purse strings back in 2008 the impact on retail buying was almost immediate. This time, there is concern that tax concessions are going to pay down debt and the much needed boost to the economy is simply not happening.

September retail sales fell well short of expectations although foot traffic is up in October.

A recent global survey of CEO confidence recorded a 21% drop in sentiment by our leaders with climate change, Brexit, trade wars and Hong Kong protests blamed for the decline. https://www.insideretail.com.au/news/ceo-confidence-plunges-over-past-12-months-201911#daily

The Australian Retailers Association is about to go through a shake-up with long time chief, Russell Zimmerman, departing and major retailers joining the group for the first time. This follows a failed attempt to join the ARA and NRA in one body.

Struggling department David Jones recently announced the sale of its building on the south side of Bourke St. Mall to provide better facilities in its store across the road although observers suggest it is more about pervading financial issues for the group with major losses over the last two years.

Economic commentators are predicting another interest rate cut although talk is more about sitting tight and seeing what happens globally. Even the Reserve Bank has been described as having a “wait and see” approach, as it looks to others, including the Federal Government, to make moves.

At a local level, Traders are reporting unexplained fluctuations in business levels. There have been increasing occasions when good crowds simply do not translate to sales and the normal boost provided by events like the Spring Racing Carnival is not evident. Traders are reporting a good variety of visitors, and a positive response to a day out at QVM, but shopping bags remain scarce.

At present there is a lot of head scratching going in and in racing language, perhaps we are just waiting for someone or something to break out of the pack and race forward. Until then we might need to keep a tight rein on expenses and make the most of limited opportunities.

By Greg Smith

Articles Worth a Read – 10/11/2019



8 Statistical Insights to Improve Your Instagram Game and Business - https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/340097



Latest Retail News – 10/11/2019


Latest Retail News – 10/11/2019
1. Woolworths trials cashless Mini Metro.
2. Aldi to feature ham in its Christmas campaign.
3. Major retailers to join Australian Retailers Association as Russell Zimmerman departs.
4. Tax refunds fail to reach retail sales.
5. Coles offers unlimited deliveries for flat fee in online subscription service.
6. Nike brings its personalisation service to Australia.
7. Amazon Australia offers buy now, pay later.
8. Queensland considers single use plastic bag ban.
9. NZ shoe retailer, Ziera, with 23 stores in Australia, unable to find buyer.
10. Catch launches pop-up store in Target.

QVM In The News - 10/11/2019


While Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market is one of the iconic places to visit in the chilly city with smells of delicious produce wafting through the streets ...
Visiting the Queen Victoria Market is equivalent joining celebrations of an ever-lasting festival. It is known for being one of the largest open-air markets ...
Queen Victoria market of Melbourne is famous for its fresh produce, eateries and cafes, alongside its specialty shopping that comprises of Kitchen and ...


Ahead of opening a permanent store in Thornbury in December, Melbourne's first dedicated Portuguese tart shop is popping up at the Queen Vic ...

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 3/11/2019



A Trader tells us about his cruel brother who, when he was young and impressionable, told him he was adopted - purchased at the Queen Victoria Market. Now he trades here, he loves the connection, and he has forgiven his brother.

A Trader may be re-thinking his involvement with aggressive customers after sustaining a broken finger on Saturday, and losing at least one days trade. The customer was believed to be high on drugs and ended up in the back of a divvy van. An altercation may have been difficult to avoid but either way the price can be considerable.

Overheard early morning in one of our food shops
Trader to Server - "Could you hurry my breakfast? I’m on my own today."
Server - "So, do you want a medal?"
Trader - "Ok. But where will you pin it?"
Server - "I’ll give you three guesses."


Misguiding Tourists - A new sign up on the top walkway has Traders and customers confused. The map is not correctly oriented so it is very difficult to get directions unless you lie sideways. 

Racing around - Last week we noted how apprentice tipster Michael Mallon picked the third placegetter in the Cox Plate. This week Guru Pete was back in the tipping chair but celebrity tipster Tony P pipped the Guru with a third place in the Derby while Pete’s tip came 4th. We wonder if Pete is feeling the pressure.

Vehicle safety is a concern in the aisles with bollards controlling traffic flow. An ex Trader recalled how one of his lady customers used to call at his haberdashery stall in J Shed to order lace and then Company Director husband would drive his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost into the aisle during trading hours to pick up the order. Times have changed.

Last week’s strong winds caused one Trader to recall the time a mini tornado carried one of his seat covers high off into the wild blue, never to be seen again.

A Trader suggests a raft of measures to attract new Traders including one off allocations, tables and fittings provided, free rent for up to 4 weeks, and removal of all red tape. His theory is that there are potential new entrepreneurs out there who just need encouragement “to give it a go.”

A Trader notes that one way that Instagram and Facebook have changed retailing is to allow excellence in presentation. Products and services can be made to look extra good with some clever photography. His point is that gaps in our market are an aspect of presentation that fails by comparison.

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – “Did you hear about the left-handed tool shop…. It’s just not right!!!!!!”

String Bean Alley Suffers – During a rainy day this week, the only customers in this shot taken at noon are hurrying to get under the sheds.

String Bean Alley Opportunity – The Melbourne International Dumpling Festival was held last year in Federation Square but this year will be conducted in a Night Market format at QVM on Monday 4th November, including SBA. The event is conducted by an outside organisation and it will be interesting to see the public response.



Having a Whinge


We want to feel positive but our feelings are too connected to our market business and these are really tough times.

We know this is a period of unusually low consumer demand and you can’t take it personally but .....

Customers are not buying. They are spooked by lots of things - trade wars, recession, and climate fears - this is a global malaise.

And then we make contact with a customer - we engage, parry, joke, discuss, analyse, and deal. They leave happy with their purchase, and like the Toyota ad, we can declare “I’m still feeling it.”

There is nothing like a bit of business to improve the mood.

What is the point of this little collection of thoughts? Sometimes it helps to speak out amongst friends. You might like to do the same. 



Selling Your Stall? Don’t sell yourself short



We don’t often advertise stalls for sale on Victraders but we did advertise one this week and it has raised a few questions. In particular, should you be selling your business on the basis of current takings or potential takings?

The global retail industry is in recession, or at least the brick’s’n’mortar category is. Retailers who sell strictly on line or have a strong online component may be doing better. The industry is transitioning from the old way of retailing to the new way and it will sort itself out in due course. It might take a few years but there will be a new retail order of profitable retailers.

So, right now stall sellers are selling potential. They are selling a framework which, with the right input, can be a significant business in the future. That input might be global buying, new product injection, and an online sales structure including websites and social media. Marketing online has great potential and opportunities to sell through Facebook and Instagram are improving all the time. If you have taken advantage of the SBMS mentors you will know of that potential.

But all that potential is likely to be built on a sound bricks’n’mortar base. We know there are many pure online retailers who have introduced physical shops because they know shops are an essential part of the full offer. Even Amazon is doing that.

It is true that making a profit in retailing is difficult at the moment. But this is an industry in transition, and for those willing to take on the challenge, stalls at The Queen Victoria Market have a real attraction – low cost, access to big crowds (particularly tourists), and a flexibility found in few other categories.

You may have decided it is time to move on. You have operated in a time of traditional retailing that now needs new skills and a new approach. Your business has value, particularly if you have good spots and a potential buyer will recognise that value. Handing over to new operators, passing the baton, whatever you call it, is a great opportunity for the right entrepreneur. That is worth something. Don’t sell yourself short.

By Greg Smith


Latest Retail News – 3/11/2019


Latest Retail News – 3/11/2019
1. Uniqlo ditches single use plastic bags.
2. Online activewear retailer Stylerunner has entered voluntary administration.
3. LVMH Group offers to buy Tiffany & Co.
4. Coles experiences marginal sales growth in first quarter.
5. Tasmania leaps in front of NSW as most economically healthy state behind Victoria.
6. Bega earnings hit by higher milk prices.
7. Woolworths admits to under-paying staff.
8. Coles adds Liquorland to Uber Eats.
9. Amazon profits fall for first time in two years.
10. Amazon opens distribution centre in Perth.
11. David Jones loses almost $500m in 2019.
12. Wesfarmer’s recently acquired Catch.com to include Kmart and Target offer.



QVM In The News - 3/11/2019


Victoria's Statewide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Kicks Off Today ... Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market both scrapped plastic over ...
The night before, he had been to the night market at Queen Victoria Market, which he raves about, "an incredible scene". Apparently 20-odd people ...
Noon-10pm, Queen Victoria Market, corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets, city, free entry (registrations required), 9320 5822, qvm.com.au ...
... Monday November 4 in Benalla, as well as a headline slot at Queen Victoria Market as part of Melbourne Music Week on Wednesday November 20.
Queen Victoria Market is officially changing its opening hours for the first time ... But the market will shut at 3pm on a Friday, two hours earlier than the ...

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Stall For Sale


A stall with the following locations is up for sale - 
     Tuesday D23-24
     Thursday RK11-12
      Saturday W21-22.

Contact Luisa on 0414 349 766.


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 27/10/2019



Many Traders have expressed delight at the return of the International Jehovah’s Witness Conference to Melbourne on 22nd November. The global economy has probably declined since they were last here in 2014 but the impact was so huge then, we should expect a boost. The busy day last time was the Thursday before the conference and you can read the report from 2014 here - https://www.victraders.com/2014/10/traders-claim-best-sales-day-of-year.html

A Trader said his week was made with a phone call from an international tourist hoping to find his product in Sydney but eventually flying to Melbourne because they “Just had to have it.”


These customers really stood out as they wandered the market on Sunday. Thanks for the photo Mino.

More happiness for Traders this week with an ABC Report that Plane Trees would be gradually removed from our streets.

A Trader says a $300 sale at 7:30 am one day this week has put an end to his plans for a sleep-in with the new hours.

Lekhraj Chaudhary, winner of Strong Man Of India.
Our Traders are a law abiding lot but if any Trader did decide to take on one of our Security Officers they should know that a new recruit to the security team is also India’s strongest man. No joke!


Our market storage boxes are big heavy, cumbersome, lumps of steel – right? Well, this rather untidy display is the result of the box blowing over in Saturday’s extreme weather. Westerly winds can be a real force.

Black Elvis has been a noted celebrity at QVM over the years and it was great to see him back on Queen St. on Sunday as he took part in a celebration for Indigenous women. In our photo he is seen speaking to a group of Italian women, and conversing in Italian of course.

Guru Pete gives us a horse tip each Saturday which is recorded on the QVM Traders Facebook page. In Pete’s absence this week, Michael Mallon gave us a tip for the Cox Plate and Te Akau Shark ran third, paying $4:00. Pete’s apprentice is doing well.



Retail Articles Worth A Read – 27/10/2019




Globalization Is Ending. Here’s How to Prepare for What’s Next
https://www.barrons.com/articles/globalization-is-ending-heres-how-to-prepare-51571652900

Stop Pitching Your Products and Services. You Have a More Valuable Commodity to Sell | Inc.com
https://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/stop-pitching-your-products-services-you-have-a-more-valuable-commodity-to-sell.html

3 Big Reasons People Still Shop in Person (Instead of Just Buying Everything On Their Phones) | Inc.com
https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/3-big-reasons-people-still-shop-in-person-instead-of-just-buying-everything-on-their-phones.html


Netflix Co-Founder Says Entrepreneurs Should Constantly Remind Themselves That 'Nobody Knows Anything' | Inc.com
https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/netflix-co-founder-says-entrepreneurs-should-constantly-remind-themselves-that-nobody-knows-anything.html

Latest Retail News – 27/10/2019


Latest Retail News – 27/10/2019
1. Global survey identifies importance of faster shipping in retail.
2. Federal Treasurer says stimulus not on agenda for Government.
3. ANZ survey says Australians feel worse off than a year ago but confidence is on the rise.
4. BP pulls M+ rated magazines from its shelves in campaign to reduce sexual harassment.
5. Fashion icon, JAG, to focus on standalone stores.
6. Kogans exclusive brands prosper.
7. Flight Centre fined for misleading promotions.
8. Priceline sales up 2.4%
9. Nestle introduces plant based burgers to Australia.
10. JB HiFi sales up 4.7% in first quarter.
11. Harris Scarfe tops customer satisfaction ratings in discount department store category.