John Turnbull may not be your typical market executive. For starters he was a Traders Advocate before he became a Management Executive. The transition from the trader side to the management side is unusual, although equally, Pike Place Market may not be a typical market.
Mr. Turnbull made a presentation to traders during the CEO’s monthly briefing at the Engagement Hub on Tuesday and he said a few things that caught the attention of traders. Pike Place Market is in Seattle, Washington and one of America’s oldest public farmers markets. It conducts a variety of activities and has shops, restaurants, day stalls for produce and craft goods, and supports nearly 500 residents in mostly low-cost accommodation. Pike Place has an interesting history and an online wiki gives plenty of detail.
The market recently went through a major renewal which gave rise to a public plaza with views to the adjoining waterfront so there are particular points of relevance for QVM’s upcoming renewal.
Some of the points he raised were –
1. During their construction phases, traders were given the option of closing down if directly affected. From 2008-2012 85 businesses closed down for 6-8 months and 45 moved location. Business actually improved during that period.
2. During construction they promoted the fact that navigation through the market was going to be difficult and that seemed to attract visitation.
3. In some cases rents are based on sales and there are a variety of lease options. Most new traders come in a 1-2 year lease with a 3 year option. Others have 5-8 year leases.
4. 40% of their rental income is related to fresh food, 40% to hospitality (restaurants etc.) and around 20% to general merchandise although that category is losing ground to Ebay, Etsy, Pinterest, and Amazon.
5. Pike Place is a major Seattle tourist attraction although tourists are viewed as a nuisance.
6. Competition from online and supermarkets is a reality at Pike Place. Fishmongers do millions of dollars of business online.
7. Relocation assistance for traders involves lots of different strategies.
8. Continuity of tenancy is very important to the market. Even poorer traders are allowed to continue trading as long as they pay rent and tick most boxes for customer relevance.
9. Trader positions are determined in part by their profitability and capacity to pay rent.
9. The market changed the content of its management back in the 70's and replaced outside professionals (architects and property developers) with managers experienced in business and markets.
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