Sunday 16 June 2013

Recruiting New Traders – The Game Has Changed

It is not so long ago that a high percentage of phone calls to our market office on a Monday morning would have been trader hopefuls eager to get a stall and participate in the riches that retailing offered. That has all changed and now QVM has to work hard to get the sort of trader that will add significantly to our product mix.

The key term is “add significantly” because there are plenty of hopefuls armed with product catalogues out of China, often with no retail experience or knowledge of the Australian retail market, who feel they should be part of our retail scene. The gutters are littered with their failed businesses.

The classic model of market participation usually involved a passionate, committed, person or partnership with a good idea, the skill to push it through, and the willingness to sacrifice time and lifestyle to achieve success. Most of todays successful market traders have exhibited those qualities. Those who come here just to flog something, or who lack the passion and commitment, can survive (often with alternative income sources) but they add nothing to the overall mix of the market.

Getting the right sort of traders with the right sorts of products is not easy and String Bean Alley is a good example of the problem. String Bean Alley provides the variety and individuality that customers crave in markets like ours. It is an excellent counter to the “Made In China” model that exists in many markets around the world. But we are struggling to find appropriate traders. UK markets experienced a similar problem but they have applied a number of measures to fix it. They actively go out and pursue prospective applicants, they offer rent free or rent-reduced periods, assistance with setting up both in administration and facilities and they recognise that some businesses are always going to be financially fragile. In other words they are prepared to make concessions because the trader adds so much to the look and feel of the market.

QVM has rarely had to contend with these difficulties in their recent history. Let’s hope they learn fast.

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