Thursday 31 December 2015

You Will Not Guess The Most Popular Christmas Purchases For 2015

Chasing down the latest trends is important for retailers as they attempt to predict what products are going to excite their customers particularly at key times like Christmas. But identifying those products is not easy and few would have predicted some of these top sellers for 2015.

With all the technology hype that surrounded retail purchases during the year it was surprising to learn that one of Myer's more popular Christmas purchases was a spread for bread or toast. Personalised Nutella (a popular chocolate/hazelnut spread) created queues in Myer stores as customers waited up to 40 minutes for their name labels to be printed and applied to the jars of tasty goodness. For many shoppers the search for a unique, inexpensive gift with universal appeal was answered by the Nutella product.

Amazon have reported that their most popular purchases for Christmas 2015 included an inexpensive vinyl record player. The Jensen unit plays old world vinyl records with a compact package that includes speakers and requires very little technical expertise to set up. Vinyl records are enjoying a revival and this player just hit the spot in 2015. Another
Amazon winner was a 20 shot pack of Fujii film for instant print cameras. Instant cameras are also a yesterday product, having been replaced by digital cameras in recent times, but they are enjoying a revival as the uniqueness of taking a picture, and printing a hard copy on the spot, attracts younger buyers.

Both Amazon products are comparatively standalone in a niche market which may explain why they featured in the top selłing lists. However, there is clear guidance that an inexpensive product, with a unique point of difference, that has general appeal, and links to recent trends, may just be your next winner.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Retail News Briefs

Retail News Briefs - 27/12/2015

1. Sweden To Go Cash Free – Sweden is expected to be the first country to go cash free. Already there are many banks who do not transact in cash. Physical bills and coins represent just 2% of the nations economy compared with 7.7% in USA.
2. Target Staff Praised for Helping Customer – a target customer who had lost her possessions in a Ballarat fire last weekend was pleasantly surprised when staff reduced the cost of her purchases by a significant amount. It turned out that 3 team members from the store had each donated $50 to assist the distressed customer.
3. Woolworths Sell direct To China – Woolworths have opened an online store on Chinese website, Tmall Global, to sell a select range of 80 goods including powdered milk, baby formula, and vitamins.
4. New Petrol Price Transparency – The ACCC has struck a deal that allows customers to have the same pricing information as retailers. Customers will be able to follow trends in pricing and see who is leading prices up and who is leading them down.
5. Tobacco Station group with over 340 retail outlets is up for sale.

Retail Collapses In 2015

As global retailing adjusts to huge changes there are inevitable departures and here are some retailers who have succumbed to the pressure in Australia.

1. Ernest Hillier – this century old Australian chocolatier was previously sold to a group of investors but collapsed into voluntary administration earlier in the year.
2. Betta Foods – this sister company of Ernest Hillier was a supplier of ice-cream cones, liquorice and other lollies to major retailers like Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. It also fell over earlier in the year.
3. Homeart – long time homewares chain, Homeart, originally started as Copperart in 1978 but collapsed into administration with all remaining stores closed by March 2015.
4. Burdines – this clothing chain operated 12 stores across Melbourne and in regional areas before closing in February.
5. Wendy’s Supa Sundaes – this former master franchisor of the Wendy’s Hot dog and ice cream chain collapsed in July with 4 company owned and operated stores closing. Other Wendy’s outlets operated by Singapore based Supatreats Australia are unaffected.
6. Koko Black – this chocolate retailer with a store at QVM made headlines back in November when it entered administration. Stores have continued to operate.

Merlo Coffee To Open At Top Of F Shed

Firmly established in the Brisbane retail scene, Merlo Coffee will be taking up residence at QVM at the top of F Shed on Peel St sometime in January 2016.

Merlo describe themselves as a one stop coffee shop – “Our experienced and friendly team can help you with everything you need to make the perfect coffee at home - from the beans, to the grind, to the brewing device. Plus every time you buy beans or ground coffee you'll receive a complimentary takeaway or in-store coffee on us”

“Everything we do is focused on bringing you the freshest premium coffee in Australia, which is why we will be roasting in-store daily from our brand new state-of-the-art Brambati roaster. Relax and enjoy your coffee with front row seats of John, our resident roaster, hard at work.” 

What Is Buzzing Around Retail This Christmas?

Every year brings new Christmas retailing trends and there is much discussion this year as the retail world goes through significant change.

Star Wars Awakens Customer Spending
The Force Awakens is not just a blockbuster movie, but a retail phenomena in its own right with massive sales of accessories and memorabilia. The big boys like Target and Toys’R’Us are certainly cashing and we wonder how many of our market traders have access to Star Wars merchandise.

Click-and-collect Not So Simple
There have been reports that the transition from old fashioned bricks’n’mortar retailing to new technology has struck snags when it comes to buying online but collecting in store.
According to the Washington Post as much as 60% of click-and-collect sales suffered problems on Black Friday and those problems have also turned up in Australia. Dick Smiths recently had to handle criticism about their click-and-collect strategy.
Apparently criticism includes goods not being ready by the nominated time or not turning up at all. Retailers like K-Mart say they are constantly attempting to improve the digital and in-store experience.
Re-inventing retailing has its issues.

Costco’s Loyalty Program Beats Competition
Costco charge an annual fee to shop in their stores and intuitively that may seem a barrier but the queues in their car parks and at membership counters this Christmas would suggest otherwise. Apparently the fee is part of establishing a loyalty relationship that is certainly working for Costco.

Boxing Day Bonanza
Boxing Day is probably the ultimate bricks’n’mortar shopping day in Australia with thousands of shoppers choosing to visit a physical store. Customers were queuing outside David Jones and Myer from 5am in almost a counter move to the new threat of online shopping.
Preliminary estimates put pre-Christmas and Boxing Day sales up by as much as 4% over last year.

Sydney Car Park Jam
Sydney's Castle Hill Shopping Centre received unfavourable publicity with some Christmas shoppers enduring 3 hour waits to get OUT of the car park last Wednesday. Nearby roadworks are thought to have added to the problem.

A Gift From City Council

Much has been written on these pages about the long term neglect of QVM funding but there is some good news.

An annual return to council of some $5m makes the Queen Victoria Market one of the most profitable markets in the world. But years of taking without giving have been severely criticised as the market succumbs to retail pressures just like most retail entities across the globe.

The QVM Renewal could involve expenditure up to $250m and that is great news but the long careful process of managing the largest project ever conducted by the City Council will result in a significant time lag before funds become available.

At its meeting on 15th December 2015, City Council resolved that QVM would not have to make its December licence fee payment to Council. Funds of almost $400,000 will be made available for modest short-term management initiatives to improve the volume, amenity, safety and viability of the market, whilst also contributing to a higher than budgeted QVM net profit for the 2015-16 financial year.

This is certainly welcome news for QVM and a recognition of funding necessities. Just where that money will be spent is not clear but maybe an emergency generator for the fresh food halls would be on the list? What would be on your list?

Merry Christmas And Thank You

As the Christmas festive season comes upon us there are many people to thank and many good wishes to express on behalf of QVM Traders.

Like many religion based celebrations, Christmas has goodwill at its core, and expressing that goodwill, recognising the efforts of those around us, and looking forward to a brighter future, are all part of the process.

Firstly, we at would like to wish all traders the very best for the festive season – a bountiful mix of business, family time, and the opportunity to reflect on preparations for a new year.

“Thank you to.....”

We would like to thank members of QVM management for their efforts to help make our market a better market, including members of the Board, especially Paul Sheahan and Jane Fenton who attended our QVMAC meetings throughout the year. Our thanks to our CEO and senior management team and a special mention to Jan Cochrane-Harry who changed the nature of management/trader relations.

Our thanks to those at the coalface – the office staff, market officers, security staff, cleaners box hire operators and all who help keep this well-oiled (most of the time) machine rolling along week in and week out.

Our thanks to customers whether they be regular weekly shoppers, intermittent travelers, locals, internationals, country folk, city workers -  you are our reason for being here and we value your attendance, the challenges you provide, and look forward to your ongoing support. We hope our efforts to be relevant in a rapidly changing retail environment are meeting your expectations.

And finally, thank you to traders – the core of this market. We particularly thank those traders who have shown a willingness to give rather than just take. We thank those who have strenuously improved their business throughout the year and embraced the new ways of doing business, those who have attempted to make our market a better place, and are prepared to work for a better outcome for all.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Latest Retail News – 20/12/2015

Latest Retail News – 20/12/2015
1. UK fashion house, Ted Baker, opens two new stores in Australia.
2. US retailing giant, Nordstrum, takes a stake in Australia’s Shoes of Prey.
3. Kogan opens pop-up store in Melbourne.
4. Australia Post facilitates Australian online retailers selling wholesale into China.
5. Myer to temporarily close Warringah Mall store for refurbishment.
6. 90% of 7-Eleven stores sign up new deal.
7. ACCC takes on Woolworths over demands for extra payments from suppliers.
8. Woolworths re-instates Qantas points promotion.
9. Global bond fund manager PIMCO warns Australia of potential for recession.
10. Pizza chain, Dominos, enters German market.
11. Hugh Jackman invests in Aussie retail icon, R.M.Williams.
12. Highpoint plans 32 hours straight shopping in Christmas lead-up.

Box Storage In M Shed

Over the last couple of weeks the Operations Department at the Market have been reviewing some issues around box storage in the M Shed area. In particular around the difficulties the current arrangement presents to Casual Traders who need to access and transport their storage boxes to and from their stalls often at different times to other traders.

Some of the issues were purely logistical in nature, others were more about risk and safety issues and yet others were more about trying to make the process, lets say, somewhat more 'Casual Trader friendly’.
To the credit of the staff in Operations Area they informed Trader Representatives of their intentions and sought comments or input, as a result some simple solutions have been suggested and agreed upon and will be activated in the new year. Fundamentally it involves having casual trader storage boxes stored outside of the lock up areas in M Shed as this will facilitate access to the boxes and diminish many of the current problems both in locating and accessing these boxes as well as having to interact contemporaneously with other permanent traders who are seeking to use the same areas but for a different purpose.
There can be some confidence that this new system will resolve many of the difficulties and issue for most traders. So we ask for casual traders to have a little more patience as this new arrangement is trialed in the new year.

This exercise has also been an excellent demonstration of how traders and management can collaborate together to find workable solutions to some of the day to day issues that arise. Quite a number of traders have volunteered excellent advice that has been taken on board. We look forward to more opportunities of similar collaboration as there is no doubt that the combined practical wisdom and knowledge of traders and management talking and listening to each other will most often bring the best result to issues that arise.

Questioning QVM's Financials

An analysis of the financial arrangements at QVM, in particular the lack of re-investment, has prompted this article from one of our traders. - 

As discussed in last week, for the first time the City of Melbourne has required both of its wholly owned subsidiary companies to publish an Annual Report along with their Financials.
Councillor Stephen Mayne chair of the City’s Finance and Governance Committee made some very interesting comments at a Council meeting held this week, which no doubt traders and others associated with the Market will find of great interest.

Firstly, Councillor Mayne highlighted the fact that our Market with its $5million return to council is “more than any market owner in the world”. That return, whilst it may seem moderate, if not low if one considers the Market as part of a property investment portfolio, is an incredibly high profit margin if it is seen as a profit return based on its percentage of total revenue. I would think very few entities return 22% of revenue back as pure profit.

With the Market facing great challenges from all directions, some traders would see this as taking essential resources away from management, and possibly one of the primary causes of the situation the market finds itself in today.

These traders are not alone, and some very experienced market operators have expressed similar concerns when market owners insist on seeing their markets as part of a property portfolio, for instance in a response to a UK House of Commons Select Committee into Traditional Retail Markets, George Nicholson ex Chairman of the Trustees of London's famous Borough Market stated the following: 
There has in recent years also been a trend – encouraged by central government – to view markets as simply part of the wider property portfolio of an authority… If markets are to be sustained and develop… it is crucial that adequate investment is made and income generated is retained. “
Mr Nicholson also cites the Barcelona Market model as an example and says:  
“All 40 markets in Barcelona are legally bound together in an independent legal vehicle that receives the rents and uses any surpluses to re-invest in the markets.”

The impending renewal may murky the waters somewhat about the point being made here, but fundamentally the point is a simple one, and that is that for retail markets to successfully coexist and thrive alongside our retail competitors  and in today’s complex and ever changing retail environment they need maximum resourcing of management and its day to day operations.

As indicated by the Barcelona model ideally this could mean ring fencing the market and its financial resources, or in other words the returning of its surplus back into its day to day operations budget. ( possibly including a large portion of the current $5 million return to the city a part of the Head Lease - It is worthy of note that a counter argument to this position is that the Market being a place of business and hence unlike other community focussed assets, the beneficiaries (i.e. the traders) are making profits, it would seem only appropriate that it’s owners the City also can expect a profitable return from the Market. This is a valid point, and there is no objection whatsoever to the City having a return once the Market has been fully resourced both via an appropriate number of professionally proficient personnel and adequate finances to permit the Market to perform and meet its current challenges).

So whilst it is possible to applaud the renewed interest in the markets infrastructure requirements, as recognised in the Strategic Brief and the Master Plan, and towards management culture, as shown by the requirement to lodge an Annual Report, are we seeing much of a change in attitude or acknowledgment of these day to day challenges and in a more flexible operational budget? Perhaps quite the contrary.


Councillor Mayne made another point when he commended the Financials presented by the city’s other subsidiary company, Citywide.  QVM may need to take a leaf out of their book (or 29 pages out of their Annual Report) since Citywide’s Annual Report contained 29 pages of Financials to QVM Pty Ltd’s 2 pages.

It would be also appropriate to say that this new approach directed by the City does challenge some of the long standing attitudes from other participants at the market to show like openness and transparency in their dealings. For this new mindset and culture to truly become a new way forward at the Market it must certainly be embraced by all participants at the market not just its owners and managers.

22/12/2015 12:12:24 Questioning QVM Financials "An update on the above article and a very positive sign coming from Council.
This is in fact the second time that money has been fed back into QVM in the last 6 months. In July $300k was reduced from the money budgeted to flow back from QVM to City of Melbourne.
You can read the recent resolution below:
The Council, at its meeting on 15 December 2015  Resolved: (part) - That Council authorises officers to inform QVM that no budgeted QVM licence fee payments are to be made to Council for the month of December in 2015 and that these funds of almost $400,000 are to be available for modest short-term management initiatives to improve the volume, amenity, safety and viability of the market, whilst also contributing to a higher than budgeted QVM net profit for the 2015-16 financial year."
Thank you for this update - Ed

Lights Out At QVM

As indicated in a previous article, a major interruption to power caused a great deal of concern to traders in the food areas of the Market.

As this isn’t the first time such a situation has arisen some serious questions are being asked by traders. Due to the heat factor, today was always more likely to present operational difficulties at all levels and given the importance of the trading day traders are now questioning the back up emergency plans in place to handle such eventualities.

Whilst the apparent source of the problem reportedly was offsite the consequences were very much felt onsite.

We have been (unofficially) informed that generators are now going to remain onsite for the next week. The photo of the onsite generator was taken at 10:00 am this morning.

Have Your Say - click here.

21/12/2015 00:32:25 Power Outage "I think due to food safety issue there should be permanent backup generators in place all the time for the meat, fish and deli sections." Leah 

Our Market Swelters In 41C Heat

It was always going to be an interesting day. But as the signs in Peel Street and Queen Street indicate we are trading right through to Christmas. Hail, rain, snow or 40° heat!

For many traders under the sheds though, 40° well, that’s just a few degrees beyond their capabilities, and so it meant maybe taking the day off. Yes, trading under the sheds even for the most determined and hardened trader was always going to be a challenge and many decided it wasn’t a good plan. So much so that as our photo shows in some parts of the market you had clear line of sight across 3 different aisles.

But notwithstanding the heat many traders opted to brave the conditions, here are just a few of them, and our sweaty hat goes off to them.
As the day progressed however things didn't quite work out so well for our many of our food vendors. 
At about 12:15pm or so power went out across the Dairy Hall, Meat Hall and H&I Sheds.
As one trader put it “to lose power in one of biggest Saturday trading days of the year is nothing short of disastrous!”
Eventually the source of the problem was found and rectified and by 2:10pm power came back on, much to the cheers of both traders and shoppers.

By 2:58pm just prior to official closing time the temperature in Melbourne registered around 41°, and another eventful trading day had passed.

Undoubtedly a day that will raise many talking points in the days, weeks and possibly months ahead.

Ah, yes never a dull moment at our beloved Queen Victoria Market.

Gloves Off....Trader Sales Statistics

Gloves Off is a new series of articles about things that should have been fixed but haven’t been fixed around our market - things that most people think are good ideas but for various reasons they haven’t been activated – or things that are just plain wrong but we haven’t got around to fixing them. So it is time to take off the protective gloves and take a bare-fisted approach to the problem.

The public release of QVM's Annual Report last week was an important step in openness and transparency and now it is time for traders to go down the same road.

Many of QVM's functions can only be properly measured through retail sales figures. How do we really know how effective marketing campaigns are without knowing how far sales went up (or down)? How can we justify a rent reduction without revealing (and proving) sales decline. The QVM Board recently rejected a proposal to reduce car parking fees at least partly because there was no satisfactory way of proving that there was going to be a sales benefit.
We are in a retail revolution and retailers across the globe are experimenting with a whole range of retail innovations that need to be measured. Did last years Cash Giveaway Promotion at QVM really work? We don't know because we don't measure trader sales. Would changing our trading hours give a better sales result? Without sales statistics we would never know.

So, let's assume there are lots of good reasons for collecting sales statistics. Why are traders reluctant to give up their sales figures? We already give our sales data to a third party every month when we complete our GST return for the Taxation Department. Why not give the same information to an independent third party? They could create useful sales data that would allow us to make the really smart business decisions required for modern retailing.

It is time for traders to become more open and transparent about their sales. Our future success almost certainly depends on it.

Have Your Say - click here.

Friday 11 December 2015

QVM Annual Report Features Importance Of Tourism

The recently released QVM Annual Report covers many aspects of market operation but Specialty Merchandise traders will be pleased with the focus on tourism.

The report identifies QVM as the number one Melbourne destination for international tourists and states – “More than one in two international travellers to Melbourne visited our historic market during their trip. Tourists typically visit markets to experience the local culture around food buying, however their main economic value to the market is with the specialty merchandise traders.”

The report went on to say “ Significant progress has been achieved in building QVM into the formal tourism industry network to ensure long term growth from this important sector.”

How Exciting - My Little Market Business Is Part Of The Retail Revolution.

It is one thing to read about the dramatic changes in retailing and another to experience these changes first hand. In the last 24 hours our market business had two customer experiences that make me realise the changes are a reality, and our little business is part of the revolution in retailing.

Customer number one SMS'ed us from Malaysia. She had visited our stall a couple of months back and taken a business card. She wanted one of our products, in fact she wanted 6 of them, and she had a friend calling into the market on the weekend. I confirmed availability, the colour choices, and the price for 6 items. The deal was completed with 3 SMS’s and we have the name of her friend who will be calling on Saturday to pick up the goods. She thanked us for our service and apologised for contacting us out of hours - a completely unnecessary apology.

Customer number two is a local businessman who rang our mobile number after seeing an item on our website and thought it would make an ideal birthday present for his friend. The problem was that he needed to pick it up the next day and take it straight to the birthday party. Could we wrap it for him? No problem. He was delighted.

Three important lessons can be learned from these experiences.
1. Customers are time poor and increasingly looking for convenience in shopping.
2. Customers love the personal experience and service.
3. Without business cards, a website, and mobile contact, we probably would not have gained those sales.

Long live the revolution.

QVM Annual Report Released For First Time

Following a decision by City Council earlier this year, a draft of the annual report of Queen Victoria market Pty. Ltd. has been publicly released and details are available on the CoM website. (click here)

The annual report gives a comprehensive rundown of the significant achievements in 2014/15 including items like –
1. The Therry St. market.
2. The Melbourne BBQ Festival.
3. The Social Kitchen.
4. Special conferences and tourism delegations.
5. Recommendations from international markets expert, David O’Neil.
6. Increased web and social media traffic.
7. New branding.
8. 1-2-1 trader engagement sessions.
9. Strategic Brief and Master Plan documentation.
10. Queen St. food and entertainment events.
11. Night market attendances.

Some point of interest from the report include –
1. Total revenue of $23,314,139 producing an after tax profit of $364,272.
2. Expenditure on advertising, marketing and entertainment of $1,547,070.
3. An expense item listed as Intercompany MCC of $4,723,863 which we assume is the annual return to City Council.
4. At 30th June 2015 there were 691 trader numbers including 537 stallholders and 154 leases for shops and box hire companies. It was noted that these figures have been reasonably steady since 2011 and that there was a 15% trader turnover in 2015 which was slightly lower than previous years.
5. QVM core staff numbered 38 and 10 part-timers.

Have Your Say – click here.

14/12/2015 19:52:13 QVM annual report " "Item3. An expense item listed as Intercompany MCC of $4,723,863 which we assume is the annual return to City Council."
This is pure profit.  Not an expense.
It would be fairer to express it as a dividend or fee or whatever, but not an expense. How is it calculated?  Is it a percentage of revenue ?
Perhaps it has a bit in common with the exorbitant fees charged by 7-Eleven management to the hard working, poorly remunerated franchisees.  ( read stall and lease holders)
Add it to the stated "" profit "" of $ 364,272 and the total is
$ 1,913,342 profit after expenses on revenue of $ 23,314,139
Nice work if you get it. 
Again , how is intercompany MCC  calculated?" Realist
Thanks for your feedback Realist - Ed.
15/12/2015 17:32:57 QVM acounts "Maths not my strong point - fee to MCC is 4.7M
add back profit and that is nearly $ 5m on revenue of 23M

OUCH for traders" Realist 

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Big Jump In International Tourism To Victoria.

The Herald-Sun has reported that international visitor spending in Victoria jumped 28% in 2015, the highest percentage growth since 2001.

Spending topped $6.2 billion in Victoria with only NSW receiving a bigger slice of the cake at $8 billion. More than 2.3 million overseas visitors came to Victoria and The Queen Victoria market tops the list for the most popular international tourist attraction in Melbourne.

Monday 7 December 2015

CEO's Job Ad Surfaces

Saturday's Herald-Sun contained an advertisement for a CEO for The Queen Victoria Market and there were a couple of interesting features.

"Retail experience ideal"

A collective cheer probably emanated from traders with the wording "The ideal person will have......retail experience". The last time this job was advertised there was no reference to retail experience and the absence of that ingredient along with an emphasis on property management was seen as a major disappointment in the Board's focus and direction.
Yes, there is an abundance of retail experience at trader level but without a high level of retail understanding and experience at upper management levels the focus and vision for our market is incomplete.

The other interesting aspect of the advertisement is the selection of Egon Zehnder as recruitment consultants. Egon Zehnder are a global executive search and talent management consultancy with some high ideals and a dedication to diversity and inclusion. Their website makes for interesting reading.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Latest Retail News – 6/12/2015

Latest retail News – 6/12/2015
1. Myer re-opens Hobart store eight years after fire.
2. Jean Paul Gaultier and Target to join forces in new clothing and homewares ranges.
3. Solomon Lew says Australian retailers facing most challenging period in 50 years.
4. Pumpkin Patch confirms more store closures.
5. Dick Smith shares dive on uncertain outlook.
6. Blackmores opens new flagship store at Westfield Bondi Junction.
7. Officeworks launches designer stationary.
8. Coles and Arnotts in fight over Tim Tam price rise.
9. The company behind KFC bounces back into profit after rationalising Sizzlers operation.
10. PayPal to become a member of EFTPOS.
11. Telstra’s top retail executive quits after 2 months.
12. Uniqlo opens 8th Australian store in Brisbane.
13. Melbourne CBD’s “Shop The City” festival draws record crowds this week.

New Fishing Laws Could Jeopardise Fresh Fish Supplies

The Victorian State Government has presented a bill to ban commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay by 2022. Supplies of fresh King George Whiting, rock flathead, garfish and squid will be affected.

Industry commentators have expressed concern not only about the availability of fresh fish but also the increased cost of importing overseas fish if the ban goes ahead.

The herald-Sun has quoted Agricultural Minister Jacinta Allen as saying - "What should be understood about this is that this is a ban on commercial netting in Port Phillip Bay. It is not a ban on commercial fishing in this area. There will be significant fishing activity. There will still be fish available, whether it is at Queen Victoria Market or at local restaurants.”

New Products – Digital Sneakers

You have seen those kids sneakers with the flashing lights in the heel. Well here is a whole new adult fashion statement in the form of customisable e-ink displays that allow dramatic and colourful shoe panels to be changed from your mobile phone – a sort of personalised canvas on your feet.

The concept is at start-up stage from a New York based business called ShiftWear.

Gloves Off...String Bean Alley

Gloves Off is a new series of articles about things that should have been fixed but haven’t been fixed around our market - things that most people think are good ideas but for various reasons they haven’t been activated – or things that are just plain wrong but we haven’t got around to fixing them. So it is time to take off the protective gloves and take a bare-fisted approach to the problem.

Our first issue is the activation of String Bean Alley. Our picture shows a trader’s very attractive display in L Shed and the way he has opened up to the SBA customer flow as well. So he is trading both sides of the stall – in L Shed and in String Bean Alley. Only a handful of traders in L shed are trading both sides. Why aren’t the rest?

The trader in the photo is a casual and a condition of him using that stall was that he traded both sides of the stall. For him, it was a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you expose your product to the customers walking down SBA as well as those in L Shed? Traders in L Shed quote weather issues and yes that can be a problem, but not an insurmountable problem. Just ask the traders on Queen St. This is an issue that can be fixed and String Bean Alley can be better activated. Traders and management need to sort it out.

And while we are on the subject of String Bean Alley, will somebody tell this trader that he needs to do something about the sign on his box door?

08/12/2015 22:22:03 M SHED "Night Market have a lot of black cloth with new logo. This is used as a barrier. Security staff can easily cover these ugly boxes to reduce feeling of ""walking behind"" 

( My Market …I said) " Mino, member of JLP Melbourne Team

Yes, it is the "walking behind" feeling you get when walking along String Bean Alley that is always going to hold it back. I would prefer to see open stalls but hiding the boxes is an alternative. Thanks for your input. - Ed.

A Sweet Success Story

Two of my favourite things are retailing and chocolate, so when a good news story comes up that includes both, the urge to spread the news is irresistible.

This story comes from Smart Company and they should be given a big plug as a great source of small business news. The chocolate retailer is Noosa Chocolate Factory and from a low key start in 2012 they now enjoy $3m+ annual turnover and feature seventh in the top 50 list of Australia's fastest growing small businesses.

The link to the full article is here and it is certainly worth a read but there are a few key points that could be highlighted as being particularly relevant to a market trader.
1.     In the family - the family commitment here is strong with a history of family involvement in the confectionary trade. Passion and commitment are really good ingredients in a business.
2.     Hands on - knowing what is happening is important. There is no set and forget here, and the owners visit each of their 4 stores most days and of course make sure their factory is operating smoothly.
3.     Attention to detail - getting the look they want in their stores is important and every detail of presentation, and particularly packaging, is carefully managed.
4.     Work ethic - for the owners a working day starts at 5:00am and holidays are simply an opportunity to sit in front of their laptops in a different environment.
5.     Staying focussed - wholesaling was always an option for this business but they reasoned that margins are tight and adding costs was not smart. They also like to keep control of the selling environment and give the best possible customer experience.

Retailing is tough right now and much can be learned from those retailers that have made good. It would seem that a clear focus, a strong work ethic, and a degree of passion are core ingredients.

Thanks to Smart Company for this story.