Wednesday, 26 October 2016

QVM In The News

He said he believed Michael Caiafa, a baker at the Queen Victoria markets who is running on a platform against Doyle's redevelopment plan, would ...
Rhall is one of a handful of artists invited to take part in the Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab at Queen Victoria Market, with the result unveiled this ...
Independent Melbourne city council candidate Michael Caiafa at the Queen Victoria Market. The $250m redevelopment of the heritage site has ...

Monday, 24 October 2016

Continuing market traditions for the next generation

The following article was published in the CBD News and the Trader Bulletin issue 9 over the weekend.

Continuing market traditions for the next generation

By Malcolm McCullough Queen Victoria Market Chief Executive Officer

The Queen Victoria Market community – traders, loyal customers and indeed management, all agree that the market’s future prosperity should be built on our unique history and the important role the market has and will continue to play in bringing the people of Melbourne together.

It’s been evolving to meet the needs of Melburnians for over 138 years and we all want to see the market perform that important role long into the future. However, you cannot operate a 21st century marketplace in a 19th century environment.

Continuing the tradition of market trading in a contemporary city requires necessary upgrades to facilities and investment in the customer experience to ensure its long term viability.

The challenge with the Queen Vic Market is that our upgrades need to be done very sensitively and in a way that protects our heritage buildings and unique market atmosphere. Adding to this challenge is our commitment to continue trading during renewal works recognising the reliance that so many have on our market as a regular place to shop, trade and connect.

It’s a balancing act but we have to get it right because we know that the most important thing about the Vic Market is its authenticity and character. It’s the traders, the produce, the wonderful mix of sights, smells, sounds and tastes that make the market what it is.

In business terms, it’s our unique selling proposition. And we’re not about to do anything to compromise that. Our plans for renewal will result in an even better marketplace, equipping our traders with the infrastructure they need to be more efficient and profitable in a contemporary city.

Moving market operations below ground will give traders access to cool rooms, storage, waste management facilities and dedicated delivery zones, improving working conditions and making the site a safer, more pedestrian friendly place for all.

The renewed Queen Vic Market will be open more often, with more on off er for customers. But it isn’t about asking traders to work around the clock.
Having a more flexible marketplace will enable more businesses to trade at the market at different times, complementing the traditional market offering. We’ll be keeping things affordable and giving customers more choices.
There will never be a supermarket at the Vic Market. Nor will be there be sterile, franchised offers. Our future will be clearly built on family-based small businesses, innovative start-ups and social enterprise just the way it always has been.

The revitalised market will be surrounded by great streets and tree-lined spaces with more room for pedestrians, cyclists and improved access to public transport. There will still be plenty of car parking but it will be moved below ground so that the current car park can be transformed to “Market Square” – a 1.5 hectare backyard for all Melburnians to enjoy.

Through renewal, we will restore and return the market’s heritage sheds to where they stand today. The much-loved food halls will be just as they are with only some minor restoration and renovation works.

The Queen Victoria Market has an important place in the community and culture of our city and we want this to continue for the next 138 years. Everything we do is about protecting the history, people and future of the market and ensuring its legacy lives on for generations.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Latest Retail News – 23/10/2016

Latest Retail News – 23/10/2016
1. Lululemon opens largest Australian store at Chadstone.
2. US retail sales up in September but department stores continue to decline.
3. Caltex confirms it is bidding for Woolworths service station business.
4. Shoes of Prey to close department store outlets including DJ’s and Nordstrom as it refocuses.
5. Cotton On Kids to open flagship store in NZ.
6. Reject Shop predicts soft sales this half year.
7. Bras’n’Things opens new concept store at Chadstone.
8. Sanitarium set to push Weet-Bix into China.
9. Coles and Virgin partner in new frequent flyer scheme.
10. Leading fashionistas abandoning Melbourne’s once coveted shopping strips.
11. Melbourne shopping strips reporting vacancies as high as 20%.
12. Pumpkin Patch says “valueless” as banks refuse finance.
13. Street food concept, Rolld, opens 50th store.
14. China now Australia’s biggest wine market.

Meet Your New Customers – They Are Different

We are all influenced by life experiences and some of those experiences, things like wars, recessions, and political upheavals, shape our perceptions and our actions. Understanding how and why different generations respond in their shopping is important for every retailer.

Shopping habits are often formed in early family years. The generation that experienced the global recession of 2008 will react differently to those impacted by the 1920’s depression (through their parents and grandparents) and a whole lot differently to those who had only limited exposure to economic uncertainty. 

When it comes to retail those experiences shape consumers buying preferences and that is why the big retailers are spending so much time and money trying to understand consumers. 

One generation is about to have a big impact on market traders and we need to understand them if we want a share of their spending.

We are talking about young consumers born between 1995 and 2012 – Generation Z. This generation will surpass the income of baby boomers in two years time. They will represent 40% of all consumers within 4 years. They are obviously worthy of our attention and they are different to the millennials. Here is a snapshot of their characteristics – 
     1. Global recession and terrorism have made them cautious and cost conscious.
     2. They value experiences, usually with social content.
     3. They care about social and political causes.
     4. More than half of them shop online because it is affordable. They will be put off by high cost shipping, and if it is possible to offer free shipping, you will maximise your opportunities.
     5. They want their goods NOW and will pay a premium for same day service. 
     6. Millenials also like quick delivery but Gen Z want it quicker.
     7. Gen Z are not big fans of “Click’n’collect”. They want it delivered.
     8. If “free delivery” is important so are “free returns”. Returning is just an integral component of the shopping service these days and therefore shouldn’t attract a penalty.
     9. The counter balance to all the freebies is that Gen Z’s are likely to accept a spending threshold before free shipping cuts in. Free shipping on a $20 product may not be cost effective, but a minimum $60 spend before free shipping kicks in may make the economics look much better.

Armed with modern technology, particularly mobiles, Gen Zedders are increasingly  demanding speed and convenience. They are about to become very influential, and every retailer’s strategy needs to factor in their preferences.

Have Your Say - click here.

Heard Under The Sheds - 23/10/2016

Good News Story One - One of our A Shed Traders has said that Saturday business has improved significantly since vehicle parking was removed from Queen St. Apparently the ability for customers to move more freely between the upper and lower precincts of the market has paid dividends, at least for this trader.

Good News Story Two – this story concerns outstanding customer service and all without the knowledge of our stallholder.  Our stallholder was visited by a customer who was extremely effusive about his purchase a few weeks ago. This trader is used to receiving good feedback about his goods but the praise from this customer went beyond the normal compliments.
After the customer had left a staff member explained that this customer had made his purchase while the owner was overseas on holidays. On that occasion the customer paid cash for his goods and left the stall. A few minutes later the staff discovered that the customer had overpaid by $100. When staff realised the mistake they went to great lengths to find the customer and finally tracked him down 4 aisles away and returned the overpayment.
Understandably the customer, and now the stall owner, were impressed with their efforts.

Smelly Story – last week’s reference to a bad smell coming from the top of L Shed has been addressed. Apparently a containment tank adjacent to a coffee shop requires a special cleaning process and the new cleaning contractors have been appraised of their responsibilities. Traders in the area are asked to contact management staff immediately any similar problem arises.

Christmas Trading One  – Many traders have been quick to embrace the opportunity to trade on the Friday before Christmas as an extended trading day and an opportunity to cash in on Christmas demand.
The arrangement may not suit every trader and it is possible that the day may have to be a “curated” trading day with those who wish to trade into the evening being positioned around Queen St. and those wishing to depart early being positioned in other areas where their departure will not inconvenience trade.

Christmas Trading Two – A number of top end traders have voiced their disapproval at closing the market on the Tuesday after Christmas. The way Christmas falls this year we could lose 4 straight days of trading. Management have indicated that they are keen to embrace trading opportunities and they will now conduct a survey over the coming week to see how many traders would like to trade at this busy time of year.

Guru Pete Hits The Airwaves – The intrepid radio broadcasters from Field Theory were keen to interview Guru Pete as part of their 9000 Minutes broadcast for the Biennial Lab public art project. Pete’s talents as a horse tipper on the Victraders Facebook page had apparently reached their ears. Pete sat in front of the microphone and answered questions about a number of diverse topics including horse tipping, class distinction, and even romance under the sheds.

Parking Vouchers – We posted an article about this matter recently and we are hoping that traders might be able to pick up vouchers at the F1 Shop right up until closing time rather than the current arrangement where they are unavailable after 11:00am. More to come on this one. 

Public Art Brings A Lot To QVM, Even Tears

It is fair to say that many traders were a little bemused by the imposition of public art projects on our trading ground this week, but the consensus seems to be that the Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab has proved to be a worthy addition to market life.

A variety of activities have graced our aisles and in fact it is the integration of public art with a public market that seems to work on a number of levels. We have seen some very different activities, communicated with some very different people, and encouraged customers (and traders) to move out of their comfort zones and explore alternative offerings in our great market.

As I write this article I am listening to the intrepid broadcasters from Field Theory who have added a whole new level of commitment to the Queen Vic Market by talking, eating, sleeping, and bathing at the market non-stop for 9000 minutes. The next time a trader complains about long hours and extreme conditions we might just have to mention the example set by Field Theory. Lifting the renewal discussion embargo now that the council elections are over, has given broadcasters some rich subject matter to tease out over the airwaves.

The Visible Hands project by A Centre For Everything may not make great reading in the brochure but participation makes this an engaging experience. The process starts by having your hands drawn by an artist in E shed, and then moving to select trader locations around the market, using different hand signals, and learning as you go. We use our hands for communication in many different ways each day and this project enhances that activity and adds a number of new dimensions.

The tears have come from a short animated film presented in A Shed by Isobel Knowles & Van Sowerwine. It tells a very poignant story of a trader who has committed his everything to the market and like much good art it leaves more questions unanswered than many of us may be comfortable with. The presentation on a screen surrounded by storage boxes, and the sounds and vibrations that go with it, all combine for a memorable presentation.

There are many more projects that make up the Biennial Lab and they are all worthy of greater comment than we have given here. The combination of events and displays has provided some new perspectives and an opportunity to step outside our daily norms. For a market about to embark on a renewal program these are valuable experiences for all participants.

Robert Doyle Predicted To Lead Council That May Include A Market Trader

The Herald Sun is predicting a convincing win for Robert Doyle in this weekend’s election for Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

The Greens are expected to come a distant second with less than 20% of the vote and Phil Cleary estimated to poll in the low teens. However Cleary team member and market trader, Michael Caiafa, is given a chance of securing a position as a City Councillor.

These predictions are based on early scrutineering and it will be a week or so before official results come out and we know the full make up of Council.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

More Of QVM In The News

Touted as Victoria's top international tourist destination, the market is chasing more visitors from primary tourist source nations China, New Zealand .
Worried Vic business owners flock to union. October ... Queen Victoria Market stallholders are concerned about how they will be treated and how their ...
... Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab has launched, with performances and “activations” on display at the Queen Victoria Market from 17 to 23 October.
The most immediate big-ticket challenge is development of the iconic Queen Victoria Market. Queen Victoria Market is a big-ticket challenege for ...
The inaugural Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab comprises eight temporary commissions that activate the historic site of the Queen Victoria Market ...

Monday, 17 October 2016

QVM In The News - 17/10/2016


Lord Mayor Doyle's Union Deal
The Age
Lord Mayor Doyle's union deal locks in $250m Queen Victoria Market overhaul..........

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Heard Under The Sheds – 16/10/2016

Why Are We Not Trading Tuesday After Christmas? - today's Trader Bulletin makes reference to the market being closed on the Tuesday after Christmas. Tuesday 27th December 2016 is presumably a public holiday in lieu of Christmas Day which falls on the Sunday. Some Traders are asking why close Tuesday? Surely this is one on those public holidays, like Grand Final Friday, when we should be trading, particularly as the market will be closed on the Sunday.

Awards Night – one trader wants to know if she can purchase a new little black dress and claim it as a business expense.
(Only if you put a QVM logo on the collar – Ed)

Trying Out Scott Pickett's New Deli 2 – we reported that two of our traders started on Scott Pickett’s new menu last week as part of their study on market food offerings ( and a good excuse to eat out on Friday nights). They visited again this week and completed the whole menu. Still a thumbs up.

Market Smells 2 – we hate mentioning these stories but now it is the waste disposal at the top of L Shed which has assaulted the senses.  This time it was on a much larger scale with traders and customers visibly affected by the smell of rotten milk. This has happened before and it is one that needs constant attention.

Art In A Shed – the display in A Shed as part of the Melbourne Public Art Biennial Lab has attracted a mixed response from traders although, as one pointed out, replacing an empty space with art work has to be a plus no matter what your level of art appreciation.

Hay Fever Season – the hay fever season has hit us with a vengeance as winds bring in grass seeds and pollen from the north of Victoria and our local Plane trees add to the discomfort. One trader quipped that a stall selling just nasal sprays, eye drops and anti-histamine tablets could make a killing.

Biennial Lab – a number of our traders are involved in an art project entitled Visible Hands operating from 17 – 23 October. The project will examine how “hand gestures are used to direct, connect, communicate and play across the stalls of the marketplace”. Ivano will be drawing hands from a location in E Shed during the week.

Sunday Trading - a number of traders asking what has happened to Sunday business over the last few weeks. Apparently they are experiencing sales decline on this key (and rent expensive) trading day.

Latest Retail News – 16/10/2016
1. Woolworths exits its deal with Hills Limited following closure of Masters.
2. Chadstone opens first stage of $660m redevelopment with stunning glass roof.
3. KitKat to launch its first chocolate store at Melbourne Central.
4. Macy’s to launch Chinese e-commerce site.
5. International brands entering Australia expected to move from luxury goods to mid-range fashion in coming years.
6. Rising house prices encourage renovation which could be good for retailers.
7. Chanel says it is not touching e-commerce.
8. Westpac says consumer confidence remains steady.
9. Marimekko to open its fifth Australian store at Chadstone.
10. South African group Steinhoff to take over Fantastic Furniture.
11.  Kodak to reinvent itself with smartphone venture.

Traders First Try At Importing Works Well

One of our traders in the top end made recently made a stock purchase as an importer and he recommends others do the same.

Our global economy has changed the nature of manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing forever and many traders have embraced direct supply from overseas.

The trader in this story had tried importing once before but had his fingers burned, firstly by an unscrupulous customs agent and secondly by product choices that were not ideal. He decided there were too many pitfalls. But he had run out of a key product in his range and the Australian supplier had fallen foul of the retail recession, deciding not to continue importing.

Our trader wrote to the manufacturer in the UK and laid out his case. He explained he was a small retailer and needed a cost effective price/freight structure to make the deal worthwhile but he was confident of placing regular orders.

Two day later our trader had a price and volume level that he could handle and a quote on airfreight that was manageable so he organised an overseas funds transfer with his bank and placed the order. Barely 5 days later a carton arrived at his local Post Office.

It turned out that the UK freight forwarder had a relationship with Australia Post and everything went smoothly. The cost of the goods was less than $1000 so there were no import complications although even if it had been more than $1000, the connection with Australia Post means filling out a few forms to get customs clearance. Traders may prefer to use a customs agent in those cases.

The good news for the trader was that the goods were landed for less than he had previously been paying and, even better, he sold 14 units on his first day with the new stock. No wonder he recommends other traders consider doing their own importing.

QVM In The News - 16/10/2016


Victoria Market shed parking proposal doubts ... concerns about the possibility of a new car park under heritage sheds at Queen Victoria Market.

“I am very proud of the Queen Victoria Market work, I'm very proud of the other planning work we've done,” Cr Doyle said. “Because it is our city and ...

The controversial $250 million redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Market also divided opinion. The project has been driven by incumbent Robert ...

There's no need to cook or run madly around town when top ingredients and super ready-to-go food options are available and Queen Victoria Market ...

Donald Trumpism Is Alive And Well At QVM

The conspiracy theories that surround the US presidential election campaign are not unique. Queen Vic Market Traders are subjected to similar untruths.

Political commentators say that Donald Trump is famous for his conspiracy theories, turning rumour and innuendo into messages of fear. Cynics are having a field day. And at QVM we have some examples surrounding renewal. You know the ones -  "This is all just a land grab", "They are going to turn us into a supermarket", "They are trying to destroy our market".

The advantage for the cynics is that their statements are difficult to entirely disprove. 9/11 could have been orchestrated by the US Government, Princess Diana could have faked her own death, and maybe we never really landed on the moon, although in all those cases the facts suggest otherwise.

Conspiracy theories and cynicism can provide the comfort of a solution to difficult problems. Sifting through all the evidence is extremely difficult and at times we are encouraged to latch on to an answer that makes convenient sense, even if it is not backed up by the facts, or the facts are just not known. QVM renewal is a complex long drawn out process and, as much as we would like a detailed plan laid out before us right now, that is just not possible. Sometimes we know the facts, sometimes we need to make a leap of faith, and sometimes we just have to ask the hard questions.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

Those who push the conspiracy theories of course have a lot to answer for. Conspiracy theories can do a lot of damage and at best confuse the listener. The worst aspect of cynics is perhaps exemplified in Henry Beecher's (famous American Theologian) description in 1860 - "The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. The cynic puts all human actions into two classes — openly bad and secretly bad."

Alternatively, cynicism may be described as "healthy scepticism" and indeed all aspects of a project as complex as QVM Renewal, deserve careful analysis, and most importantly, input from traders. But before those of you who are cynics start claiming any high ground, remember that one thing replaces all the guesses. Amongst all the blustering, innuendo, guesses, false motives, conspiracy theories, and cynicism there is the truth. There are facts. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they require a lot of work to discover, and sometimes they are yet to come.

CEO, Malcolm McCullough, says he hopes to continue trader engagement sessions through to December. Those traders who have attended the sessions so far may now understand the difference between "rock" traders and "sand" traders, may have seen plans for the new A Shed precinct, or may have been involved in a variety of discussions about plans and change. These sessions are the perfect opportunity to fill the gaps in our knowledge, not with conspiracy theories and cynicism, but with real information.

The Queen Vic Market has an oversupply of cynicism and conspiracy theories. Adopting conspiracy theories is the easy way.  Striving for knowledge and understanding is the hard way, particularly in a retail recession, The business future of every trader at The Queen Vic Market deserves the second approach.

How Unique Is Your Business?

Being a retailer has become really hard. Oh how I wish for the good old days of retailing when setting up a physical retail display guaranteed you a certain uniqueness. Sure, you had competition from fellow traders but consumers had to come to your place to see your offer. At The Queen Vic Market our uniqueness was inherent in our product choice, our ability to cut out the middle-man, and the fact that we traded when others didn’t.

Now that uniqueness has gone. Consumers have a whole selection of options before they make their purchase and sometimes they don't even have to walk out their front door. An unfortunate consequence of flat retail sales is that retailers are demanding that suppliers only provide them with guaranteed, sure-fire sellers, and of course the result of that is that more retailers are selling the same sure-fire sellers and the uniqueness becomes even more watered down.

Make no mistake - your future as a retailer relies on you being unique. Consumers need a really good reason to buy off you but the good news is that there are a whole lot of ways to achieve uniqueness -
1.   Price. - your products obviously have to be competitive and you may choose to select price as your key advantage.
2.   Presentation. - how well you display your products, or more importantly, how much pride you show in your product, is important.
3.   Innovation. - the power fuel of entrepreneurs is innovation. New products, new ways of presenting old products, and constantly thinking outside the square, are all productive ingredients.
4.   Service. - we have mentioned that customers have so much choice, and they are in the box seat. Meeting, and exceeding, customer service expectations will enhance your uniqueness.
5.   Marketing. - there are many different ways of marketing your business these days and fortunately many of those ways are inexpensive. Website's and social media are accessible to all.

The variety of elements that you can excel in is the good news, but the bad news is that picking just one of those elements, and doing it well, is not going to be enough. Some of those key points are essential in combination, they rely on other components to become truly effective. Yes, retailing has become really hard, but then anything truly worthwhile usually is. Just how unique are you?

Have Your Say - click here.

Traders Complaint - 16/9/2016

This comment was actually posted last Monday and we found it a little confusing but we will attempt to address what we think the trader is talking about.

10/10/2016 19:50:20   locked out  "We as traders are locked out during trading hours without being able to leave the market if there was an emergency or other reason, being trapped like animals , as someone has been given the power to do so without consultation with the traders or meeting at traders requests."

The subject matter is “locked out” although the comment describes being locked in. Either way there are issues here and essentially it relates to traders with vehicles arriving late for set-up or leaving the market early with their vehicles.

We know that traders frown upon any trader who disrupts business by their actions. This can occur with traders leaving storage boxes in the aisle after opening time and conversely bringing boxes into the aisle before closing time. Both actions give a bad business impression and can be viewed as contrary to the bulk of traders who try to do the right thing. We need rules to ensure that traders are acting in unison.

The same applies to vehicles. Traders who arrive late and block aisles with their vehicles create a bad business impression and place others at risk. Traders who choose to leave early are equally disruptive and give the impression that the market is closing despite their neighbours being prepared to continue trading until closing time. For this reason, access is often blocked by bollards during trading hours.

The claim that this is done without consultation is incorrect. Traders have made it clear that they object to individual traders behaving badly, whether it be with vehicles, storage boxes, or other banned activities.

The emergency bit is different. If there is a genuine emergency then access or egress should be allowed. Presumably, a personal emergency would simply require a phone call to the office to facilitate movement. If the movement is purely to meet a personal, non-vital arrangement then maybe the trader should leave their vehicle outside the trading area on that day.

Does this address our complainant’s problem? Do you have a view on how these situations should be handled? Please comment.

Have Your Say - click here.

16/10/2016 17:39:51   Trader complaint         "I believe this is in reference to the meat/fish/deli halls & H&I shed area. 
The simple matter is door are locked at about 4:15 Friday nights, despite trading running (officially) till 5.
The market management have great concern for forklifts running during trading hours, but cleaners take over the area from about 4pm with blower vacs and the compacting waste truck." 
Thanks for your response. That puts a different perspective on the original comment. - Ed.     

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Heard Under The Sheds - 9/10/2016

Traders Performing Badly - there was strong readership to last week's article about boxes in the aisles before closing time. The article related to Grand Final Day and perhaps we can give traders some leeway on that occasion but this has raised similar concerns from others. We were approached about the K Shed trader who has his boxes in the aisle well after 9:00am each day simply because his worker starts late. Or the traders in RK/RL who now have larger stalls and a narrower aisle but still insist on pushing their racks out into the aisle and inconveniencing customers.

Trying Out Scott Pickett's New Deli - two of our traders reportedly decided to try out Scott Pickett's evening offer and told the waiter that they wanted to go through the menu. He thought they meant they wanted time to look through the offering, but no, they wanted to start at the top and work their way down. Not sure how long that took or how far they got, but they did give a thumbs up.

Traders Awards Night - the awards night was a topic of discussion during the week with generally favorable anticipation although a few traders with younger kids were trying to work out how they could get around Halloween trick or treat obligations on the same night.

That Smell - still getting reports on the bad smell from the A Shed Ladies toilets. Traders asking for this to be fixed.

Have Your Say - click here.

Latest Retail News – 9/10/2016

Latest Retail News – 9/10/2016
1. RBA holds interest rates steady.
2. Country Road to acquire menswear retail chain, Politix.
3. Country Road opens “lifestyle” store in Albert Park.
4. Mr. Porter launches shoppable app.
5. Aldi tops poll for supermarket customer satisfaction.
6. David Jones acquires GAP Australia clothing brand.
7. Facebook introduces seller’s market place similar to eBay.
8. Supermarkets launch campaign with Police to crack down on self checkout theft.
9. KFC and Pizza Hut owner records lower quarter sales.