Sunday, 14 April 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 14/4/2019

A Trader says that we are currently sorting the real traders from the good time traders. “How a trader reacts in tough times and adapts to adversity is the real measure of a market trader.”

A trader says he experienced a different kind of American tourist this week. “Apart from the accent they could have come from next door”. We will leave you to work out what he meant.

Good reports from the first Europa Night Market. A number of traders commented on a great atmosphere particularly from the live music, a family friendly environment, and seemingly a lot of new faces.

A trader says he loves the way that summer keeps on giving even well into April - “Winter fashion will have to wait a bit longer.”

With all this focus on customer convenience one of our traders decided to introduce a subsidised delivery service. It was particularly aimed at interstate customers. He put stickers on his more bulky items offering Australia Post delivery across Australia for flat rates ranging from $8 - $15. That was about 3 weeks ago. Take up since? - zip, nada, zilch. He is re-thinking that strategy and admits to being a little confused.

Has anyone sighted the customer who says he is coming back later?

A trader says he likes the Easter promotion that has special stickers at selected stalls around the market. Customers follow a trial around the market and mark off sticker locations as they go. This trader has gained direct sales as a result but says it is all about generating positive family fun for the kids and a good experience at QVM.

A different perspective from one trader who says he feels sorry for customers in tough times - “They are weighed down by bills, unstable work environments and now a bloody government election. Who’d want to be a consumer right now?”

Speaking of tough times, apparently a number of our stall assemblers and helpers have found themselves out of work as stallholders take back some of the more mundane tasks just to save money.

And finally, the sort of news every trader wants to hear – one of our traders did so well with the Sri-Lanka Festival crowd on Sunday that he sold out of produce and couldn’t serve last minute customers. That is the sort of problem we all want.

Trader Comment On J Shed Shading

11/4/2019 12:32 - "We the traders in the eastern side of the J shed would like to bring to the attention of the management that the shade cloth which was removed from glass has been done without any information or consultation with us.
removing the above shade cloths is severely affecting the health of the traders and their employees, discolouring and in some cases melting the products and making them worthless. Also very impotently the customers are getting frustrated with the sun rays and leaving the stall without even looking at the merchandise.
I hope the management come themselves and see this problems facing the J shed traders,and put the shade back on the glasses. We were told that it has been removed for the winter months, but the sun rays is getting so harsh even in winter, that some of the traders are getting sick and head aches including the other problems mentioned above. "
Thank you for your comment - Ed.

Have Your Say - click here.

New Video Summarises Latest Renewal Plans

Competition May Not Always Be Healthy

It is said that competition is a key ingredient in retail. But in its rawest form competition can be destructive and like many things retail perhaps a more sophisticated approach is desirable here.

A trader recently expressed concern at increasing competition within the market. His concern is that key products in his range are being cherry-picked by new traders and heavily discounted. Selecting a limited range, perhaps compromising on quality, and then buying in volume can bring price reductions, but at what cost?

Our established trader carries a broad range of goods, insists on top quality, and backs up with a range of services including, website, social media engagement and a variety of delivery options.

Of course some competition can be healthy, and after all we are a market, but is a rush to the bottom doing us any favours?

Shopping centres carefully curate their offer, and yes there is strong competition, but it is more about complimentary competition. In other words, varying the offer so that it broadens rather than creates sameness. Retailers are selected for the niche they have carved in the retail framework, rather than just their ability to sell the same thing at a cheaper price.

And then there are wholesalers many of whom understand the importance of a unique offer. If you want to stock the same product as another retailer in your immediate vicinity, you will be discouraged. Why kill the established retailers business with price based competition?

This is a complex issue. Maintaining a competitive offer while protecting the traders who have put in the hard work is not easy. It is easy to say “let competition take its course”. Perhaps a better way is to curate the offer so that each new trader adds to the total rather than cannibalises somebody else’s products. We all want financially successful traders who get reward for effort and feel they are part of the market family. There are enough headwinds from outside competition without adding internal ones.

By Greg Smith

New Market Square Is To Be A Crowd Drawer.

It was revealed in the latest QVM Renewal proposal that Market Square will be the name of the open space between QVM’s M Shed and Franklin St. The Square will be created once the current car park has been relocated, and it looks like it is going to be more than a simple park or garden.

As the name suggests, a square or piazza has connotations of a community gathering place and that means crowds, and we don’t need to explain how important crowds are to market trading.

A charter is to be drawn up to guide the use of this space, but one thing is certain - creating a substantial new space (bigger than Federation Square) will at last offer an alternative location for public events currently being held down at Southbank or on the Yarra.

Melbourne City North will have its own world class public activity space, and it is right next to our market.

Definition of Patience for Market Traders


the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

a market trader standing for hour after hour at his/her stall during tough economic times, answering endless questions, (most commonly “Will you be here next week?” or “Where are the toilets?), while working out how to meet rising business and living expenses, and avoiding the temptation of inappropriate distractions like mobile phone games, all with a smile, a nod, and complete denial of the utter boredom and frustrations of retailing when customers simply refuse to spend.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Questions On Car Parking

The latest renewal proposal has been approved by Council and one of the sticking points for traders has always been car parking.

The current car park is to be eventually converted to parkland but not before two alternative car parking facilities are built – 500 car parks under the Munro building, and up to 500 more in a new building at the Franklin Street end of the site. This could all take 6 years to complete. 

Concerns have been raised about the distance of the southern site on Franklin Street and also what impact moving the main parking down to Munro’s will have on general trading. Presumably it will be beneficial for the food halls but what will be the impact on the Upper Sheds? Fortunately 6 years is a good time span to measure and evaluate car parking trends. 

But some other questions have been raised by traders. Will the Munro parking (and the Franklin parking) be available to market customers or will it be commandeered by other city users?

Essentially traders want to be sure that every customer who wants to fill their boot with market goods is able to do so without too much inconvenience. There are ways of ensuring that market customers get preference and that may need attention as we move on with this project.

NOTE: a comment previously attached to this article has been published as a separate article under the title "Trader Comment On J Shed Shading".

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 7/4/2019

An innovative non-plastic food wrapper using banana leaves is being used in Thai supermarkets. Thanks to the trader who sent this in.

A Trader says his worst nightmare occurred this week when he arrived at the market to find one of his neighbours had taken the day off. This trader sells bulky goods and has three large storage boxes which are too big to go on his stall so he relies on friendly neighbours with spare space to help out. If one of his neighbour doesn’t turn up he has a real problem.

Protestors 1 – a Trader says he found Saturday’s protestors (Anti-animal cruelty) were a good source of sales and he is wondering if this could be an un-tapped market for QVM. He agreed that advertising QVM as a good place to protest might just backfire. Protestors can be un-predictable.

Protestors 2 – just to prove the previous point an illegal protest occurred in the lower market on Sunday and police had to be called. The protestors were described as “Vegans protesting about slaughter houses.”

Lana’s back – when you are the only fabric seller in our market, your absence is noted. It is great to have Lana back after a minor medical procedure.

On the question of providing delivery services for customers, a trader has pointed out that there are serve yourself parcel posting machines available now. Imagine one of those within the market.

Plastic free movement grows - a trader points out that the Labour Party’s decision to ban all single use plastic bags adds a significant force to the current promotion by QVM to be plastic bag free from May 14th.

The new Europa Night Market starts on Wednesday with a modified footprint. Car-parking and cool-room storage will be placed at the Peel St. end of sheds J,K,L,M.

A Trader notes that the Book Market up at the Peel St. end of A Shed is still buzzing along each Sunday after a number of weeks and may be just the right fit for what has been a difficult trading spot.

A Trader wants to know if it is OK to roll your eyes when a customer asks for a discount on an already discounted item. Would that be considered part of the theatre or borderline rude? We reckon its theatre if done with a smile.

Have Your Say – click here.

Latest Retail News – 7/4/2019

Latest Retail News – 7/4/2019
1. Labour plans national bag ban.
2. ARA wants banks to do more on tap’n’go payment processing.
3. New retail offer at Sydney Airport strong on local brands.
4. Ethnic households spend more on Fruit & Veg than non-ethnic. 
5. Fashion house, Robert Cavalli, prepares to liquidate.
6. Big W to close 30 stores.
7. RFG struggles with sell-off plans.
8. Retail sales rise in February.
9. Athlete’s Foot’s new flagship store in Melbourne features 3D printing.
10. Heritage Victoria rejects Apple Store for Federation Square.

QVM In The News - 7/4/2019

About 500 protesters marched in an anti-clockwise route around the outskirts of the Queen Victoria Market on Saturday, with a speech and ...
Step into Gew├╝rzhaus (in Carlton The Block Arcade, Chadstone and Queen Victoria Market) and your nose will thank you. The fragrant spice ...
The City of Melbourne has announced new reinvigoration plans for the city's iconic Queen Victoria Market. The plans are primarily focused on ...
A looming change to planning laws in central Melbourne could scupper a key feature of the city council's latest attempt to redevelop Queen Victoria ...
The tortured, seven year process of trying to reach agreement on a facelift for the much loved but fading Queen Victoria Market reminds trader ...

QVM - A Productive Training Ground For Young Business Hopefuls

At QVM we should be proud of the grounding we have given to a number of successful business people.

There are many stories within our market of young aspiring business people who started as stall packers or shop assistants and went on to very successful careers.

At a recent social event we heard the story of a young student stall packer who displayed great working qualities and didn’t surprise his boss when he ended up as a partner at Price Cooper Waterhouse in New York.

Or the stall assistant who completed his business degree in Melbourne and went on to become Head of Finance at a large Asian company.

Many of those students, now successful business people, have maintained contact with their trader bosses. You don’t forget your roots.

Then of course there are those who made the ultimate leap and became Market Traders. Photographer, Tony Pierrakos, used to sell hammocks at our market. Ninh, trader of helicopters and other fascinating models, used to work for one of our knitwear traders and a leather jacket trader.

Queen Victoria Market teaches young business prospects how to be street wise, how to converse with a huge variety of different cultures and personalities, how to develop selling and financial skills that may be absent in the normal classroom, and gives them exposure across the full range of business activities and responsibilities, albeit at a micro level.

And then there is the social confidence gained from exposure to raw Aussie trader banter - the jokes, the jibes, the ribbing, and the genuine human respect that underlies much of that activity. A young person who survives everything the Queen Victoria Market throws up has a good grounding for the harshness of the outside business world.

Of course this is not one way. Many of these successful business people showed their worth early - hard working, willing to take on a variety of tasks, respectful to others, and quick to learn. These are dream qualities for market workers and highly sought after by traders.

It could be said that the contribution of young business people, and the things they learn at QVM, add to the rich worth of our great market.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Oh What A Night!

Those of you who have not attended a Council meeting at Melbourne Town Hall May wish to put it on the agenda sometime. It can be an intriguing experience.

Last night’s Future Melbourne Committee (A special Committee that implements Council matters) we started off with questions on a very personal sexual harassment issue which has been in the press recently, moved on to an application for development of a heritage car showroom up on Elizabeth St. (Yes, car showrooms have been around long enough to gain heritage status) and then to the issue that was most relevant to the QVM community - Infrastructure and car parking at QVM.

For the QVM matter there was a presentation by city design chief Rob Adams followed by a number of speakers who are each given 3 minutes to have their say. Presentations were made by Stan Liacos, Leah Moore, Bruce Pham, Greg Smith, Matthew Vitale, Paul Ansaldo, and Marshall Waters. It could be said that all but one of those was positive and supportive of the proposal.

Paul Ansaldo was supportive of investment but questioned just how logistics were going to work for Fruit & Vegetable traders. The need for close consultation with traders was clearly identified in a number of comments throughout the night.

Bruce Pham managed to showcase some of his socks as he presented in favour of spending money on our market. Marshall Waters introduced some mirth as he compared QVM Renewal with Brexit, and urged that we get on with the job.

“Give me a shovel”

“Getting on with the job” was a theme from traders, management and councillors and is perhaps best encapsulated In Councillor Le Liu’s comment as he urged that we get the renewal process underway - “Give me a shovel!”

George Milonas was mentioned for his written submission asking that we "move forward."

There was clearly lingering disappointment in some quarters that the first proposal for an underground facility didn’t get across the line. Arron Wood, Marshall Waters and others considered that was the best for the market in the long term, but we move on, and it was agreed that the new proposal achieves much of the same intent for better infrastructure.

A unanimous decision by the Futures Committee to accept the QVM Infrastructure and Car Parking proposal was a very positive outcome. For those who want to get on with the job at QVM, this was a great night.

Have Your Say - click here.

A Turning Point For QVM - But Don't Get Out The Champagne Just Yet

Last night’s Future Melbourne Committee’s approval of new Infrastructure and Car Parking facilities was indeed a momentous occasion for QVM but it is just a start.

It has been 7 years since the first realisation that our market had been neglected, and significant investment was needed to ensure we were competitive in a very competitive retail world.

A few hiccups along the way (most notably the rejection of the primary underground proposal by Heritage Victoria) and now we have a proposal that will set a base for progress.

There have been many contributions to this point including
-     the People’s Panel and the multitude of traders and the wider market community who contributed to its findings, many of which have been taken up in the new plan.
-     QVM management who have taken up much of the load and championed the needs of the market.
-     CoM and it’s renewal team who have tirelessly presented and adjusted options to achieve an outcome.
-     City Councillors who have devoted so much time to QVM matters, suffered the same frustrations that everyone else has experienced, but continue to remain positive and up-beat and supportive of the project whilst being mindful of the impact on traders.
-     Traders who have pushed for progress.

BUT - this is just a base for moving forward. The retail revolution is not going to wait for us to get back of house in order. The rest of the retail world is charging ahead with innovation and consumers are revelling in their new found power. We have a lot to do. And the WE means traders and management. Traders need to find new ways to excite their customers and particularly meet their demands for convenience while management need to provide us with an environment that allows all that to happen.

I have the champagne ready but the cork doesn’t come out just yet.

By Greg Smith

Market Enhancement Gets The Go Ahead

The Future Melbourne Committee met at town hall last night and unanimously approved the latest QVM Infrastructure and Car Parking proposals.

The torturous process of renewal, held up by Heritage Victoria’s refusal to allow the underground construction, is now back on track with a new proposal for storage, waste, and service facilities.

Queen St. will become the site of three new facilities with underground components, while Fruit & Vege traders will be asked to help design in-stall dry and refrigerated storage for their area.

Car parking will be split between the Munro site (500 spaces) and a new building at the Southern end of the market (up to 500 spaces). The current car park will remain in operation while these sites are constructed.

A number of concerns were raised about the distance of the Southern (Franklin St.) car park facility from the main market and it was pointed out that we would need to continually review our car parking over the years of construction while considering innovations like click’n’collect to assist some of our time-poor customers.

All this will be progressed over 6 years and still fit within budget and the requirements of the state government agreement.

In the meantime, the associated Munro development will progress while maintenance and other works will be conducted on our heritage sheds across the site and of course String Bean Alley will receive its upgrade this year.

There was a common theme in the room at Town Hall last night - We have taken too long with this renewal - it is time to move on and get it done. Fortunately Council delivered on that sentiment.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019


April Fools jokes get a bit of a bad rap these days as communication correctness causes many jokers to think twice about their plans.

Tesla’s Elon Musk famously got himself into hot water when an April Fools prank caused a significant dip in his company’s share price. Microsoft took the unusual step of advising its employees not to get involved in April Fools jokes this year because of the unpredictable results of a joke gone wrong.

But of course that didn’t stop some organisations from having a go, and our gold star goes to Kia for proposing a new steering wheel designed for tablet users and gamers – you swipe left on a screen to go left, and swipe right to go right. It is called a Finger Operated Optimum Lever.

We steered clear of April Fools jokes on Victraders but if we had indulged, maybe something like this?

Guru Pete's new cleaning cart ready for conversion of car park to parkland.

If you have an idea for an April Fools joke please let us know. We might be game enough to use it next year.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 31/3/2019

Renewal Proposal - There has been plenty of discussion under the sheds about the new renewal proposal with hardly any complaint about most of the infrastructure components - more and better storage, updated waste disposal, management offices onsite, and so on. But car parking - can there ever be enough? (See separate article on trader parking).

Buses - Thursday this week apparently produced good business for some in the Upper Market and the presence of tourist buses up on Peel St. was cited as a reason. One trader said “Can someone please push the bus button every trading day.”

Car parking - with the news that Coles are taking up with eBay so they can use their delivery infrastructure, one trader is suggesting that we should find a way to offer free or subsidised delivery to our customers. “We certainly wouldn’t need as many car parks and it would remove many of the reasons for a customer saying no to a purchase.” 

A couple of traders commented on a new stall selling cotton shopping bags. The bags have  colourful prints depicting Melbourne and Australian icons including our own pallet tree. “It is nice to see fresh new products adding to the mix.”

A trader is asking when are the QVM cleaning contractors are going to supply paper rubbish bags in line with our sustainability policy.

A tourist customer commented that when he walked into a stall it was cold wet and windy, but when he walked out there was sunshine with a nice warm breeze. “Welcome to Melbourne mate!”

Queen St. traders are nearing a deadline to make way for seating and landscaping adjacent to the sheds. According to one trader there may be strong resistance.

Latest Retail News – 31/3/2019

1. Big W may need to close 60 stores according to Macquarie Report.
2. Just Water in recyclable Tetra-Paks launched in Australia.
3. New 93 stall fresh food market given approval in Point Cook.
4. Union concerned at sexual harassment in retail.
5. Renting expensive clothes may disrupt clothing industry.
6. Deloitte forecasts retail turnover will fall in 2019.
7. Bunnings planning full online offer.
8. Coles adds everyday essentials to Uber Eats.
9. Myer axes 50 management staff.
10. Pandora told to fix refund policies.
11. Debenham refinancing could hurt investors.
12. Coles signs deal that will double home delivery capacity.
13. Kraft looks to sell Australian coffee brand Cerebos.
14. QVM launches new advertising campaign.
15. US moves to ban cashless stores.

Happiness And Avoiding Burnout

For some reason a number of articles have crossed our desk this week concerning happiness in small business and the risk of burnout.

Maybe the stresses of business, particularly retail, are being felt generally right now, but whatever the reason we felt each of the following articles might be worth a look for you or someone you know.

Avoiding burnout using a Bill Gates strategy

Some tips from Yale's most popular class ever (Spoiler- some Specialty Merchandise Traders will not like some of these techniques)

Happiness is a choice

The Missing Piece Of The Trader Storage Survey.

Much has been made of the survey conducted to establish trader storage needs. The results of the survey have guided aspects of the latest renewal proposal which will be put to Council on Tuesday. But it was what the survey didn’t ask that is now causing concern.

Traders were effectively asked what their storage needs were. They were asked to list their box storage, dry goods and refrigerated needs and predict future needs. That is fine but they were not asked about their vehicle storage needs. (Note: We understand there was an option for “Other” storage but few traders would have associated that with vehicle storage. Perhaps it could have been made clearer.) Vehicle storage may mean simply parking a vehicle after it has been used to replenish stock held at an outside location (often home). Or some traders may use a vehicle as a store of goods during the trading day either on the stall or nearby.

For many traders none of this will be an issue. Traders in fixed locations or with regular delivery arrangements may not have a legitimate need for a stock vehicle. But if a trader legitimately uses a vehicle to regularly deliver stock (perhaps to simply replace the previous day’s sales) then there is a vehicle storage issue.

According to some attendees at Thursday’s meeting presentation it was suggested that the market would becomes a vehicle free zone - trader’s vehicles would be parked elsewhere, away from the market. It should be noted that while we understand the long term aim of QVM will be to remove vehicles from trading areas,  this not a short term or even medium term priority. Clearly there will be time for QVM to work through issues and find workable solutions for traders.

 And getting back to storage of the actual vehicle - parking in Melbourne is a very expensive exercise. Traders currently use free parking at the back of the open sheds, discounted voucher parking in the main car park, and some low cost street or multi-level car parking at discounted prices on the weekend. Even $10 or $15 per day parking becomes a significant cost impost over a week.

The public is encouraged to use public transport for their shopping needs but traders generally don’t have that option. Many traders with small trading areas and set up/pack up arrangements require regular daily top-ups and easy access. A vehicle is an essential delivery tool for many traders and those vehicles require easy access parking. 

There will be more to consider on this matter as we move forward.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

QVM In The News - 28/3/2019

A new public space larger than Federation Square would replace the open-air carpark at Queen Victoria Market under the latest proposed ...
A mixed-use development worth nearly $1 billion forms a financial linchpin in the City of Melbourne's latest effort to rejuvenate the popular but ageing ...
Cr Capp said there was a “live situation at the moment at our beloved Queen Victoria Market” where instead of a reduction in car parking spaces the ...