Sunday 29 May 2011

Market Interview - Nick

Name? - Nick
What do you do/sell at the market? -  Adult Toys (Non Sexual).
How long have you been at the market? - 15 years
What do you like best about the market?Multicultural environment, fresh produce, having lots of good neighbours.
Worst moment? - Packing up stall when temperature is above 40 degrees.
Past jobs? - Salesman.
Sporting interests? - Table tennis, soccer.
If you were Market CEO for a day? - Give each stallholder a slab of VB on Queens Birthday .
One thing nobody knows about you? – I’m a comedian in progress.
Favorite food? - Traditional vietnamese beef rice-noodle soup - "pho"
Favorite drink? -  VB
Favorite TV show? -  Everybody Loves Raymond.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? - Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do. ? Go for a picnic somewhere with my family.
Apart from family and friends What do you miss most being away from Vietnam ? -  "Cay to bay mon". The Vietnamese food most westerners know about. 
(Note from interviewer- cryptic clue, the man we worship is backwards.)
If you were given a 2 week free holiday anywhere around the world, where would you choose to go? - Europe of course, Germany, France etc.

Thanks Nick

Interviewed by Tony.

Hidden Gems - Part 3

Continuing our theme of quality products at the top end of The Queen Victoria Market, this week we focus on winter warmth. Sheepskin slippers and boots - woollen scarves, hats and caps – and Australian made jumpers.
In each of the first two groups we offer 8-10 traders throughout the market so the competitive juices really flow – all good for customers seeking great value.
There are many product groups were the market offers this type of competitive edge and where the sheer volume of traders guarantees a product selection unequalled in Melbourne retailing. We expect to cover more of them in coming weeks.

One On One With Victoria

Victoria Niewalda is a Specialist Trainer & Consultant with ARA. She conducted the Visual Merchandising Workshops recently held for traders and is doing special one-on-one follow up consultations at trader’s stalls. (see her profile here - Following is a report from trader Greg Smith who retails nautical decor accessories.
“Victoria attended our stall on Saturday morning and fortunately both my wife and I were in attendance so we were able to handle customers at the same time. Victoria had lots of advice and anecdotes to pass on and provided visual support from her iPad (I want one).
Discussing merchandising possibilities while actually at the stall was a great advantage for both of us. Victoria was kind enough to say that we had the basics right but she was able to pass on some key points for our attention.
1.       We have table to floor cloths that look good but are really wasted space. Victoria showed us a photo of a Queensland market stall that had used their cloths to display their logo (in our case it would be a lifebuoy). Victoria explained that, in the mass of stalls at the QVM, it is often difficult for customers to pass on location advice but, if they can say “that stall with the lifebuoys”, it makes the process much easier. Large logos on our cloths would then be backed up with real lifebuoys hanging out the front of our stall. We will need to check costs but we like this idea.
2.       Victoria identified a large number of $10 items spread throughout our decor range which she felt were great value. She has suggested we make them a selling point by trying bulk grouped displays at the front of our stall. The philosophy is that, even customers who may not be especially interested in nautical goods, could not resist a bargain and would become additional customers. Our tables are in a U shape and the front of each entrance table would be used. Again, we like the idea and this one will cost us nothing to try.
3.       We use our business logo on our price cards and explanatory signs. Victoria suggested we should make our logos bigger. Enhancing our identity in this way and incorporating additional triggers like the lifebuoy cloth graphics goes further to make us individual and identifiable. Her philosophy was that, in a product range not dominated by brand names, it is important to create your own brand. We like this idea and, as we print most of our own graphical material, upping the size of our logo is a simple process.
4.       Victoria favours “Larger than life” displays to help make traders stand out. In our case that could perhaps be a giant blow-up lifebuoy suspended at the back of the stall. We need to give this more thought.
There were other ideas for us to try and Victoria stressed that she does not provide definitive answers to increasing sales but her ideas are certainly worth trying and, in most cases, the cost for us will be minimal.”
Other traders will be visited by Victoria over coming weeks. If you would like to share your experiences we would love to hear from you.

Where Do Our Customers Come From?

It is now almost 12 months since a group of General Merchandise Traders decided to question the results of customer surveys at the QVM. It was claimed that the majority of our customers were local and surveys conducted around the market, usually at key traffic points like car-park entrances or pedestrian malls, seemed to confirm that.
General Merchandise Traders decided to do their own count but they did it with a difference. Instead of surveying people wandering malls or going to and from their cars, they surveyed actual paying customers in the top end of the market. Over a period of one week, customers who opened their purse/wallet to purchase, were asked where they came from. A staggering 70 % were intrastate or interstate tourists.
This has been an important discovery in the way we target our key tourist customers but of course 30% of our customers can’t be ignored either and many traders see great potential in attracting more locals into the top end of the market at the same time.

Retailing Future In Social Networking

A fascinating talk by Pacific Brands (think Dunlop, Bonds, Tontine) CEO Sue Morphet this week when she described online shopping as both a threat and an opportunity.
The boss of the clothing group said it was all a matter of attitude and commercial survival of Australian retailers depended on embracing the online world. Some interesting points –
1.     Seven of the top 10 online retailers in the US were bricks & mortar stores (Walmart, Sears, Best Buy) with a similar story in the UK (Tesco, Marks & Spencer). In Australia, not one bricks & mortar store is in the top 10.
2.     Basically shoppers are shopping on price or on quality – they will shop for the number one brand or the best price.
3.     Shoppers haven’t changed in the sense that they are seeking a rewarding shopping experience – they are just finding that rewarding experience in different ways and retailers ignore those different ways at their peril.
4.     Where recommendations used to come from advertising or sales staff they are now increasingly coming from social networking. (Bonds has 60,000 Facebook fans).
5.     Retailers have to offer a unique shopping experience with excellent range, value and service. If they don’t, customers will go elsewhere, and the internet has made it a lot easier to do just that.
Editors Note: - This week the QVM has offered traders an expanded opportunity to link through their own substantial social network incorporating Twitter, Facebook and the QVM website. We will have more on this opportunity in coming weeks.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Duchess Causes E-store Collapse

The Duchess of Cambridge has caused a website meltdown for the retailer of the “Reiss” dress she wore when greeting the Obama’s in London this week. A spokesman for the brand said “unprecedented traffic” caused a technical glitch as customers rushed to emulate the fairy tale princess.
Now if we can just get her to wear some sheepskin boots or an opal pendant or perhaps play a didjeridoo.

Monday 23 May 2011

Heads Up: City Masterplan To Impact On QVM

Our day to day business grind often causes us to neglect “higher” issues like city development master plans but this one has direct impact on the Queen Victoria Market. We are considered part of an important urban renewal area that is currently under review. The Melbourne City Council is seeking public consultation on its plans before 24th June.
The plans may be viewed at a number of locations including the Melbourne Town Hall and North Melbourne Library at 66 Errol St. The study that involves the QVM is called The City North Structure Plan. The Melbourne City Council and our own Queen Victoria Market are urging traders to take an interest and contribute to the debate.

Sounds like a quick trip up to the North Melbourne Library may be a small price to pay for protecting our future.

More details online here:-

China's Middle Class Grows.

Interesting article from Inside Retailing this week concerning the impact of China’s emerging middle class. In fact they have already emerged and are predicted to outnumber the whole of the US population by 2015.
The impact on world commodity prices will be significant as China’s factory production is internalised to meet local demand (a process that has already started). Local demand is expected to be large enough to cause a shortage (and a price rise) in some categories across the world. The days of super-cheap electronic goods may be short lived.
Kinda reminds you why many of us were attracted to retailing in the first place – you simply can’t predict what’s coming up next – satisfies our inner gambler and keeps us on our toes.

Spring Campaign Application

Print out this page - fill in the details - send to Andrew Cyples

To: Andrew Cyples  - 513 Elizabeth St.  
Re:  Promotion Campaign Participation: Spring Campaign
Business Name..............................................................................................................................
Stall/Shop Location........................................................................................................................
Contact Telephone No.........................................................
Detail of Offer..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Price Detail: Normal Retail...............................................Our Price..........................................................
Period of Offer..........................................................................................................................................
Photograph Available ....................


Sunday 22 May 2011

Market Interview - Mark Szmerling

Name? Mark Szmerling
What do you do/sell at the market? Womens fashion clothing.
How long have you been at the market? - 20 years
What do you like best about the market? - More traffic flow of customers coming into your stall than a clothing shop and Joe Favata.
Worst moment? - Having to front up to certain stallholders after the pies lost to Brisbane in the grand final.
Past jobs? - Ojay women's clothing head office and Adacs security company.
Sporting interests? - Collingwood, Manchester United, Melbourne Storm, destruction of the A league.
If you were CEO for a day? – I’d fire Pete the cleaner.
One thing nobody knows about you? I open mouth kissed a horse once, but that's another story
Favorite food? - Steak
Favorite drink? -Coke
Favorite TV show? - Seinfeld
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? “Winning isn't's the only thing.”
“It's not a lie if you believe it” is an equal tie for best piece of advice.
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do? Get together with friends that you never see from working on the weekends.
If Collingwood won the grand final this year would you like Mick to continue as coach Y or N and why? - No I wouldn't. I'm ready for Bucks to take our game to a new level

Thanks Mark

Interviewed by Tony

Friday 20 May 2011

BizzBuzz Small Business Deal of the Week

We mentioned this group buying site a few days ago. They focus on deals for small business.
This week they are offering 500 business cards printed in colour, front and back, on premium quality card, for $25.00 including delivery. We didn't notice any catches but check it all out here -

Thursday 19 May 2011

Australian Retailer of the Year

Let us say upfront that these awards are hosted by AMP Shopping Centres and BRW so shopping mall retailers can be expected to feature strongly.
The winner this year was activewear retailer, Lorna Jane who beat Birdsnest, Gloria Jeans, Matchbox, Oroton, Pie Face and The Athlete’s Foot. There were 5 other awards given at the presentation. Best new retailer was presented to Mall Music, Innovation in Retail went to The Athlete's Foot, Sustainable Retailing to Bakers Delight, Successful Retail Marketing Campaign to Grill'd, and Best Use of Technology in Retail was handed to Eyeclarity.
Your editor has no idea who 3 of those listed retailers are so it is time for some googling.

Two More Traders On QVM Website

Welcome to the QVM website traders pages to two long standing traders.
Alan of B.B's Jewellery and Tony of Leathertone

If you would like a presence on the QVM site, simply email the office ( ) with 6 good quality photographs and the following information –
• Short description of the business and products available (aprox 100 - 200 words)
• Business name and stall or shop location
• Website (Direct link from to your website)
• Email address
• Business contact telephone number

If you would like assistance producing suitable photographs please contact Trader Volunteer, Greg Smith (0406 222 020).

QVM Announces New Marketing Iniatives

Our CEO has announced a number of new marketing initiatives that will be of interest to General Merchandise Traders.
Firstly, 12 Citylink banners featuring the market will be set up near the Brunswick Rd. exit of Citylink. For us, the impact on visitors travelling from Tullamarine could be significant. Capturing the attention of tourists when they arrive in Melbourne is a key ingredient to getting the right customers past our market stalls.
Secondly, a link with the King Tut exhibition in which the market offers $20 shopping vouchers to customers who book foodie tours with the market. The foodie link is not ideal but a partnership with this excellent exhibition will be a plus for the market.
Thirdly, a new in-flight program with Air New Zealand, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines which will feature QVM as part of the descent video on each flight into Melbourne. These are significant international airlines and capturing tourists as they arrive in Melbourne seems a good move. The market is already featured on seat-back videos on the free Skybus shuttle service in Melbourne.
Fourthly, the QVM will be featured as part of a New Zealand Masterchef “Win A Melbourne Experience” promotion. New Zealanders are one of the more important international groups for General Merchandise Traders.
All these initiatives are most welcome as they target tourists who are our core customers.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Coles Develop Online Pickups.

Coles have been developing their online ordering system for some years and in response to customer requests they allow pickups in store. They are also trialling order pickups at a Sydney service station.

Apparently customers love the convenience of ordering online but can’t always be at home for the delivery. They are asking to pick up their order at a time and place that suits them. Coles say the trial may lead to a whole network of pickup points.

We recently posted an article about providing a delivery service for QVM customers. In a very competitive retail environment Coles knows the importance of keeping up with customer’s needs. Can we say the same?

New Buying Group for Small Business

               The Groupon clones of this world are plentiful but one new buying site specialises in providing bargains for small business.
       is the new kid on the block and aims to provide special deals on items from printing to stationery, advertising, marketing, business cards and the like. This week’s offer is a free 60 day trial to Shoeboxed, an online business receipt organiser. Apparently you mail them all your receipts and they scan, organise and file all the details and then provide you with a spreadsheet summary. They do the work and you get rid of all those bits of paper. The 60 day trial is said to be worth $40-$80.
                We have subscribed to BizzBuzz and will let you know what they are offering over coming weeks.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Market Interview - Kha - Australian Manufacturer.

This interview should probably be part of our Hidden Gems of the Market articles because manufacturers like Kha aren’t common in the market these days.

Name? Kha Nguyen
What do you do/sell at the market? Australian fleecy garments.
How long have you been at the market? - 25 years. 3 months after I arrived in Australia I started at the market.
What do you like best about the market? - meeting people from all around the world
Worst moment? - When people don't believe my garments are made in Australia.
Past jobs? - student & factory work.
Sporting interests? - Play tennis - interested in cricket & football.
If you were CEO for a day? - I'd spend time talking directly with stallholders.
One thing nobody knows about you? - Nothing really - I am an open person.
Favorite food? - Lobster with XO sauce.
Favorite drink? - water
Favorite TV show? - Big Bang Theory and documentaries.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Enjoy life (Father)
If you had Sunday afternoons off what would you do? Spend more time with kids.
Anything else you’d like to say? I really enjoy this market.

Thanks Kha

Thursday 12 May 2011

Tips For Better Business - No.2

2. Greet Your Customer – Such a simple thing, yet so important.
Are you perfect at assessing customers? How often have you been surprised when a “no chance” becomes a paying customer?
A simple greeting gets you on the right foot with your customer....and don’t be worried if they don’t establish eye contact straight away (many don’t). They may simply be responding to a recent bad shopping experience.
What constitutes a good greeting ? –
                                1. Immediate Recognition – don’t delay.
                                2. Be Warm & Sincere – if it doesn’t come from the heart, it won’t work. Be yourself.
                                3.”How may I help you?” conveys the right sentiment but you may prefer to find a less used greeting.
                                4. Understand Your Customer – listen, look and learn. If you read your customer correctly you will be rewarded.
                                5. Treat your customer the way you would want to be treated. You may prefer not to be bothered when you shop in stores but it is unlikely you have ever been offended by a “Let me know if I can help you”.

It is not always easy to pick the right greeting but it is unforgiveable to ignore a customer.

Tips for Better Business will become a regular entry on our website. What are your tips? Email us or comment below.

Tips For Better Business - No.1

1.Change your display regularly  Shopping centre designers put a lot of effort into making the shoppers experience an adventure. They deliberately try to lose customers in the shopping environment. Customers store basics in their memory and when they visit your stall they are influenced by what they saw the last time they visited. If you change your display you change their perception of what you are selling, they notice products they didn’t notice before, and they are excited by the adventure. This is a simple inexpensive way of improving the customer’s experience and giving all your products the exposure they deserve.
Tips for Better Business will become a regular entry on our website. What are your tips? Email us or comment below.

Macy's/Bloomingdale's Perform Well

We don't normally report on US retailers results but two interesting things came out of Macy's  stellar performance in the March quarter.
They contributed their improvement to a combination of marketing and cost-cutting measures but particularly highlighted the tailoring of their merchandise to local regions (listening and reacting to local demand) and their concentration on exclusive brands. A stunning 43% of their revenue comes from private, exclusive and limited-distribution brands. It helps to not have competition.

Markets of the World - Covent Garden - London

                QVM may be the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere but there are other classic markets around the world and this week we focus on London’s famous Covent Garden.
                Covent Garden comprises two markets, the Apple Market with British handmade arts and crafts and antiques, and the Jubilee Market with a variety of merchandise on sale. Originally a fruit and vegetable market, Covent garden was rebuilt in the 1970’s and re-opened in 1980 as Europe’s first specialty shopping centre and a major tourist attraction.
                There is an interesting mix of modern retailers, general merchandise traders, craft carts and street vendors with some areas devoted to different types of merchandise on different days.  The market aims to attract the UK's best crafts and antique traders. The main building was constructed around the mid 19thC so there are some architectural similarities with our QVM.
See their website here -

Major Retailers Report Slow March Quarter

Both Myer and David Jones reported sales declines in the March quarter yesterday. David Jones was down 1.3% but said it would still maintain its profit forecast for the full year. Myer reported a 3.1% decline in same store sales for the quarter.
These reports were consistent with the overall retail data which showed minimal growth for the retail industry. The Reserve Bank expects that consumer savings will remain at a high 9-10% for the rest of this calendar year.
David Jones reported that their better performing categories were contemporary womenswear, accessories, menswear and childrenswear. Myer reported that they were exiting whitegoods and revamping their music business. Their sales performance, excluding electricals, was described as "pleasing".

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Our Big Advantage

On these pages we have often talked about consumers re-assessing their values, changing their buying patterns and generally finding reasons not to spend. The result has been a consumer buying drought that has made our trading lives very difficult.

It has been suggested that consumers and retailers are moving in different directions as retailers concentrate on cheap prices while consumers look for the sort of stimulation that cheap prices alone can’t provide. Some retailers are very good at dominating the cheap end. It has been said that Queen Victoria Market traders have this type of advantage through low overheads but the sheer volume of large national retailers is very hard to compete with.

One of the problems we face is that “dumbing down” our ranges to compete on price will destroy the very attributes that make us interesting, different and stimulating to consumers. Trying to compete just on price will destroy our attraction. Ignoring price competitors will be equally destructive. It is a very difficult problem and requires careful awareness of customer responses. It is ok to have prices that are a little dearer if you are engaging with your customer and can adjust your sales pitch to suit the situation. Selling up to product advantages that meet your customer’s needs is a wise strategy and shoppers who love to shop will appreciate the attention.

This is our big advantage. We are dealing face to face, one on one, with our customers in a way that staff-reduced, big retailers can’t. It is an advantage that can be profited on with every customer who shows an interest in our stalls and enjoys the service we can provide.

Google Launch New Shopping Service

Searching for particular retail products on line has been a rather hit and miss affair. A Google search gives you a whole range of links, many of which are irrelevant or, more annoyingly, outdated.

There are a number of dedicated shopping services on line but now the web’s major search engine has its own shopping component. Type in “Big screen TV” and hit Shopping on the Google menu bar and you will be taken to a listing of retailers offering prices and contact details relevant to your search.
Retailers can sign up to Google Shopping for free by submitting a catalogue of their products to the Google Merchant Center. Traders should seriously consider submitting their products. It is early days for the Google offering and, while mainstream products like TVs are well represented, more specialised product ranges are yet to be populated in their database and many entries are simply ebay listings. Sounds like a good opportunity to get in at the ground floor. Try typing some of your products into the Google search box, click on the “Shopping” link on the menu bar and see what comes up.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Revamp For QVM Announced Yesterday

The Melbourne City Councils 2011/12 draft budget has been announced and features a total spend of $346.55 million of which $1.15 million has been dedicated to upgrading The Queen Victoria Market.
Last night’s Channel 9 News said the $1.15m would be directed to revamping old buildings and removing asbestos roofing. Lord Mayor, Peter Doyle, said “We would look over the next year to making public a vision for The Queen Victoria Market that actually restores it to the No.1 iconic destination of Melbourne, which it used to be.”

Sunday 8 May 2011

Market Interview - Danny

Name? Danny

What do you sell at the market? Ladies and gents knitwear.

How long have you been at the market?32 years

What do you like best about the market?It’s a choice of lifestyle made many years ago and it’s very hard to change at this point of my life.

Worst moment? - Dealing with people who are not trustworthy and very hot weather.

Past jobs? - Family furniture business back in Buenos Aires.

Sporting interests? - Gym, soccer (man u) and  basketball.

If you were CEO for a day? - I'd hire a big bus and drive around Melbourne CBD collecting customers.

One thing nobody knows about you? - If there is, there is a reason to keep it that way.

Favorite food? - Italian

Favorite drink? - Wine

Favorite TV show? - Sopranos

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? - Always be truthful.

Was it easy or hard growing up in Argentina? - Easy.

How much change do you see when you travel back to Argentina? - Both a lot and a little, in different areas - more immigration, bad traffic, still heaps of corruption.

If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do? - Spend more time with the grand kids and take them to the theatre.

Thanks Danny

Interviewed by Tony

Friday 6 May 2011

Hidden Gems - Part 2

We believe that there are many surprises to be found at the top end of the Queen Victoria Market. Quality products that offer a uniqueness and excitement not often expected in markets and in fact equalling the offerings at many so-called high end shopping centres.
We are compiling a database of these products for use in marketing campaigns and general promotions and will be highlighting certain products on these pages over coming weeks. This week we focus on Hidden Gems in the jewellery category.

One-On-One Follow Up To Visual Merchandising Workshop

QVM management is to pay for follow-up consultations for participants at the Visual Merchandising Workshops held in March of this year.
One hour consultations will be held at trader's stalls over May and June. At this stage, only those who attended the original workshop will be offered consultations.
We have received very good reports on the benefits flowing to traders as a result of these one-on-one sessions. The original workshop came up with many good ideas but also some points that were not relevant to every trader. The opportunity to focus on creative merchandising solutions that relate directly to your own business is not to be missed. ARA's professional merchandisers will be conducting the sessions.