Recently one of our traders had the possibility of visiting a number of Markets in mainland Western Europe and he has written to us with some very interesting observations.
“Although the general intent of my travels was to enjoy a work free (read "MARKET FREE") R&R break, I did grasp the opportunity to visit a number of markets whenever it seemed possible. Here are a few brief observations.
The weather was indeed much warmer than anticipated so I thought I might seek out a short sleeved men’s shirt, I was looking for something with a bit of "European" flair.
My first stall had a rather small selection of short sleeved shirts with much the same design as you would find in any store/market in Australia. I thought no, not at all what I want from Europe. They were in fact obviously mass produced (read "Chinese manufactured") garments ( yes I know, why should that have surprised me). As I went to the next stall, same styles, same selection, next stall, again almost precisely the same fare as the previous 2 stalls. Now I was on a mission, were any of the 20 or so men's garment stalls at that particular market selling any real variety? Short answer NO! Interestingly this scenario repeated itself at all the Markets I visited no matter where their location.
Lesson 1: Market stall holders in that European country are selling a very limited range of identical, mass produced items right through their Markets. In fact a family member who was travelling with me, who recently came to the QVM noted how much diversity we actually have in comparison to the markets we saw in Europe. Who would have thought?!?
So why did they seem to have such a large patronage, I asked myself. Well my tentative conclusion was that this particular country has not embraced the "all encompassing Shopping Centre" trend. They have very few shopping Centres as such.
Hence if people are going to travel to do their shopping, one real attractive option other than the relatively expensive boutique shops is the local Markets.
As we know Australia has a Shopping Centre almost on every block at the moment and that most certainly has, and is, causing Australian Markets to be far less viable and patronised than our European counterparts.
Lesson 2: Our real challenge is to find a way to be more attractive than the plethora of local Shopping Centres. Certainly no simple task.
Fortunately, at the QVM, we have not been totally engulfed and engorged by the Chinese juggernaut, although we are going down that road. I wonder if that may not be the way out of our dilemma. It may be possible to somehow stand out above the Shopping Centres by offering the unusual and diverse. Could this be our way forward? But, then I have always been a deluded idealist.
Thanks for listening
A fellow Trader.