The following article was published in the CBD News and the Trader Bulletin issue 9 over the weekend.
Continuing market traditions for the next generation
By Malcolm McCullough Queen Victoria Market Chief Executive Officer
The Queen Victoria Market community – traders, loyal customers and indeed management, all agree that the market’s future prosperity should be built on our unique history and the important role the market has and will continue to play in bringing the people of Melbourne together.
It’s been evolving to meet the needs of Melburnians for over 138 years and we all want to see the market perform that important role long into the future. However, you cannot operate a 21st century marketplace in a 19th century environment.
Continuing the tradition of market trading in a contemporary city requires necessary upgrades to facilities and investment in the customer experience to ensure its long term viability.
The challenge with the Queen Vic Market is that our upgrades need to be done very sensitively and in a way that protects our heritage buildings and unique market atmosphere. Adding to this challenge is our commitment to continue trading during renewal works recognising the reliance that so many have on our market as a regular place to shop, trade and connect.
It’s a balancing act but we have to get it right because we know that the most important thing about the Vic Market is its authenticity and character. It’s the traders, the produce, the wonderful mix of sights, smells, sounds and tastes that make the market what it is.
In business terms, it’s our unique selling proposition. And we’re not about to do anything to compromise that. Our plans for renewal will result in an even better marketplace, equipping our traders with the infrastructure they need to be more efficient and profitable in a contemporary city.
Moving market operations below ground will give traders access to cool rooms, storage, waste management facilities and dedicated delivery zones, improving working conditions and making the site a safer, more pedestrian friendly place for all.
The renewed Queen Vic Market will be open more often, with more on off er for customers. But it isn’t about asking traders to work around the clock.
Having a more flexible marketplace will enable more businesses to trade at the market at different times, complementing the traditional market offering. We’ll be keeping things affordable and giving customers more choices.
There will never be a supermarket at the Vic Market. Nor will be there be sterile, franchised offers. Our future will be clearly built on family-based small businesses, innovative start-ups and social enterprise just the way it always has been.
The revitalised market will be surrounded by great streets and tree-lined spaces with more room for pedestrians, cyclists and improved access to public transport. There will still be plenty of car parking but it will be moved below ground so that the current car park can be transformed to “Market Square” – a 1.5 hectare backyard for all Melburnians to enjoy.
Through renewal, we will restore and return the market’s heritage sheds to where they stand today. The much-loved food halls will be just as they are with only some minor restoration and renovation works.
The Queen Victoria Market has an important place in the community and culture of our city and we want this to continue for the next 138 years. Everything we do is about protecting the history, people and future of the market and ensuring its legacy lives on for generations.