Sunday 29 April 2018

Heard Under The Sheds – 29/4/2018

Social Media promotion for our 140th birthday bash has been consistent and frequent. It will be interesting to get reports on business over the weekend. Is there a connection between crowds for special occasions and sales?

Thursday’s meeting in the Engagement Centre to discuss the upcoming online traders hub was attended by the usual contributors and apparently covered some good ground with at least one participant happy that the proposed online information will be useful for traders. Apparently some of the information being considered apart from individual leave and rents, is general market news, trading opportunities, registration for maintenance issues, city news, and customer information like cruise ship attendance.

String Bean Alley container vacancy. There is plenty of speculation about who might take up residence in the soon to be vacant container in SBA. Apparently the unofficial betting market has Mick the Wood-burner at short odds – purely trader speculation.

Graves, graves and more graves – a number of newer traders have been surprised at all the press speculation about graves at QVM. The rest of us have heard it all before. What can you say? – it sells papers.

Reports of strong sales on Tuesday this week from a few traders in the top end. Apparently that was put down to visitors to the city for ANZAC Day the following day. Many regional visitors and even some as far away as NZ come to the city for ANZAC services.

A quick straw poll mid afternoon Sunday concluded that our birthday bash had attracted big crowds on the Sunday but traders in the upper market experienced mainly poor sales results. Crowds were out for the entertainment but not to buy.

String Bean Alley – one of our traders is asking why we are looking at boring utilitarian containers for SBA when there are far more professional options available including the POD trialled in C Shed?

Have Your Say - click here.

29/04/2018 20:43:20 String Bean Alley Containers "Very interesting your comment on Utilitarian Containers in String Bean Alley. 
QVM Logistic Solutions have manufactured 6 of the Next Generation PODS (C Shed) many months ago and are available for inspection at 190 Franklin St. 
These Pods were architecturally designed and manufactured with the approval of the Ex CEO Malcolm Mc Cullough.
Logistic Solutions had received 28 orders for these Innovative Containers from Stallholders and the Market would certainly benefit from this new look.  Maybe you can talk to QVM Management and ask them why they are not giving us permission to use these Pods?
Perhaps you can also ask them to pay their outstanding invoice?  " QVM Logistic Solutions
Thank you for that information -Ed.

Report Card On Birthday Bash

The final day of the Birthday Bash weekend isn’t yet over so it is a bit early to draw conclusions, but let’s start the discussion anyway.
What was your experience over the 140th Birthday Celebration weekend and did it meet your expectations?

Let’s say upfront that a quick straw poll late Sunday of about 6 traders across aisles C-M identified good crowds but poor sales. The verdict was pretty universal – the event attracted crowds but they didn’t come to buy and had little impact on trader revenues.

Should we expect more from this type of event? Is it enough that we get crowds here, the opportunity to engage, and potential sales down the track? Are we just wasting our time on locals altogether in the Upper Market? Presumably traders selling essentials like socks and also the food vendors would have done ok. Did any traders get reactions from customers? We heard of one customer saying the normal food and cultural festivals on Queen St. had more activities than they saw this weekend.

Any comments or thoughts, please click on Have Your Say below.

30/04/2018 07:01:40      Sunday event          "It has become very obvious that an event may bring large crowds into the qvm but that does not seem to bring dollars into our pockets. It would seem that very few stall holders  had any success bar tue this weekend very disappointing. Do better on non hyped up days your comments please."
Perhaps two common complaints can be put to bed this weekend - 
1. "They just need to bring us more people."
2. "They don't advertise us enough."
The trading issue in the Upper Market is clearly much more complex than either of these complaints suggest. We had a big crowd and (speaking generally) it did nothing for business. Secondly, the advertising across social media was huge. We could have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on more traditional advertising (TV, radio, newspapers) but would the crowd have been much bigger? The crowd was here but that didn't translate to sales. If we are going to fix poor sales levels perhaps we need to look at other aspects of how we do business. - Ed

30/04/2018 21:22:06      Birthday Report Card        "Traders are generally  a tough breed to please .Good crowd numbers and strong advertising and for many that was not enough. I had a modest response to my products birthday offer however I had one of my best Sundays trade for a while.
Retail is not an exact science and sometimes we can over analyze things and still not get it right. Sunday proved that for me."     Stavros
Have to agree. Retailing is not an exact science although learning from experiences, particularly in times of change, remains an imperative. It is great that you had a better day, and I understand some of our food people did very well, but the over riding trend in the Upper Market suggests we have a lot more work to do. Thanks for your input - Ed.

06/05/2018 19:58:43      140th Birthday Trading        "We had our best week since Christmas and we were not alone in A Shed and the Victoria St shops. "         Marshall @rewine.
Excellent! Thanks for the feedback Marshall. - Ed

Latest Retail News – 29/4/2018

Latest Retail News – 29/4/2018
1. 10 years ago Myer was in the top ten of reputable companies. It is now ranked 45th.
2. Westfield introduce new websites across centres including self-publishing for individual retailers.
3. Gloria Jeans to expand into Germany.
4. Meaghan Markle’s handbag gives Oroton a boost.
5. Weak beauty sales hurt Priceline.
6. Warm weather hurts clothing retailers.
7. Kogan revenue soars on mobile sales.
8. New Myer chief John King was head of UK’s House of Fraser stores.
9. Old Navy bucks downturn and opens more stores in US.
10. Coles food sales up but Target and Bunnings UK struggle.
11. Westfield says fashion rebound assisting their bottom line.
12. Coca Cola profit jumps.
13. Amazons profit nearly doubles.

Articles Worth A Read This Week:

How I Marketed my Small Business Effectively Without Breaking the Bank

Get an MBA If You Want to Get Ahead in Business. Skip It If You Want Your Business to Get Ahead.

Study: Long checkout lanes cost retailers billions

QVM In The News - 29/4/2018

Pollster and perennial mayoral candidate Gary Morgan said if elected he would propose to exhume the estimated 6000 bodies buried under the markets and use DNA testing to return them to relatives. Almost 1000 bodies were moved in 1920 from the site, a former cemetary, when the market was ...
Old Melbourne Cemetery lays under the main carpark at Queen Victoria Market. Mr Morgan, who ran for lord mayor three times against former mayor Robert Doyle, said the by-election was a referendum on the future of the market. The pollster opposes the $250 million City of Melbourne plan to refurbish ...
She nominates a greener and cleaner Melbourne, better transport, tackling homelessness with four new accommodation centres and extra funding, and city safety as key policies. She supports the Queen Victoria Market Renewal largely in the format left by former lord mayor Robert Doyle, with some ...

Mortal Enemies…Or Are They?

Jeff Bezos of Amazon (on the right) and Hubert Joly of Best Buy are intense competitors in the electronics category. Amazon are the sellers of just about anything online and Best Buy are a key bricks’n’mortar chain, so why are they together?

Amazon and Best Buy are joining in a major push to flog 4D and HD TVs using the Amazon operating system. This is a push against rival Roku’s TVs although just to keep things friendly, Best Buy will continue to sell Roku as well.

Clearly these men and their organisations are just concentrating on chasing sales, whatever it takes, and that is probably a good lesson for every trader at QVM – forget all the distractions around you and just focus on business.

Three Trader Assists In One Week

QVM Traders are independent business people and our businesses are incredibly time consuming but when traders take the time to assist their fellow traders it is worthy of note and I had three such instances this week.

Business expenses are a major concern for every trader and sometimes even the little things can add up. In my business we personalise our carry bags with printed paper labels and the labels can be expensive from traditional sources like Officeworks ($45 per 100 sheets). I mentioned this to a trader and he said he was now buying equivalent quality labels on eBay for around half the cost. He sent me the link and I have now ordered online from an Australian supplier.  Here is the link to one of the suppliers on eBay - Thanks to Bruce Pham for this assist.

Photography – Good photographs can make a big difference on websites and social media, and this trader offered to assist me get a bit more creative with my photos. He spent around half an hour of his time taking and sharing photos on Friday and Saturday and I have already introduced the results into my social media feed. You can see some of those photos in a separate article on Victraders.  A big thank you to Mino Voloder.

Sales Assist – this trader sells goods in my category and in a few items we are direct competitors, but when a customer asked for an item that only I carry, the trader phoned me, asked for my trading location, and sent the customer around to see me. That ended up in a substantial sale. A big shout-out to Bob Chhugani for the referral.

Traders helping traders is a great experience and if the end result is happy customers, we are all winners.

Good Photos Can Make A Great Difference.

Good photos like the one above can have a great impact. We QVM Traders are all being urged to promote our businesses via social media, and that makes a lot of sense, not the least because it is largely free.

But like everything else we do there are degrees of excellence that can determine just how successful our efforts are ,and photography is one of those skills that with a little bit of effort can turn a ho-hum social media post into something special that impresses our customers.

Credit for this article goes to a trader who takes the subject of photography very seriously and he offered to help me with some promotional photos for my business. He has a $6000 camera but as we will reveal later that isn’t essential to get good results. As this trader says, it is not the equipment that gets results, it is the creativity that goes into the photo.

Here are few results from a quick photo-shoot at the market on Saturday.

These photos are quite simple in subject matter but I hope you will agree they all say a lot more than a simple bland photo of a product. Bland product photos are fine for catalogues but when you are trying to create some mystery and expectation, it takes a little more thought. The last photo, by the way, was taken with a smart-phone so you don’t need special equipment to get great results. The following photo was also taken with a smart-phone and I apologise for the blatant self promotion but it is a good example of how a little creativity can boost the impact of a photo.

A big thank you to Trader Mino, for encouraging some creative thinking in my photo taking and customer engagement.

Have Your Say - click here.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Heard Under The Sheds – 22/4/2018

A trader who shifts stock between two stalls said he had a real problem getting through the crowds with his trolley around mid-day on Friday. He wished he could have the same problem every trading day.

Reaction to last week’s quote – Those of you receive the weekly Victraders email will have read the quote of the week which came from trader Marshall Waters at a City of Melbourne committee meeting earlier in the month - "The heritage of the Vic Market is about the people, not the buildings." One trader asked the question during the week “So, the Parthenon and Coliseum were unworthy of saving?”

A trader asked – “Why is it that during the school holidays it is the Fathers who have no idea how to control their children in a retail environment like QVM. I’m sick of asking young kids not to handle my stock.”

String Bean Alley Vacancy – management have emailed traders seeking applications for the SBA container available at the end of April. Apparently there have been several applications already and more who intend to apply. Reasonable rent and the opportunity to trade at the night market are enticing ingredients.

Racks and Tables for Sale – Photographer, Andrew Bertuleit, has moved into a permanent shop in F Shed and has racking and fold-up tables for sale. Contact Andrew at F3 or call him on 0429 133 133.

A Strategy For Retail Recovery In Shopping Precincts

A Strategy For Retail Recovery In Shopping Precincts

1. Get The Timing Right – uniform trading hours that meet customer needs and reflect the surrounding environment e.g. population dominated by commuters.

2. Mix It Up – assemble businesses that compliment each other and provide an offer that meet the needs of customers. Maintain this rigorously so that if a key component closes it is quickly replaced. Meet ALL the needs of customers in one place.

3. Spruce Things Up – keep things clean, well maintained, and well lit.

4. Have A Plan – maintain a cohesive vision and strategy with reasonable expectations. A retail centre is not always just about retail.

5. Service With A Smile – This goes without saying. One bad customer experience can spoil a whole shopping trip. And we are talking about facilities here as well as inter-personal relationships.

The strategy above was written up this week in The Conversation which is a journal written with “academic rigour, and journalistic flair” usually by academics working with businesses and communities. This article was addressing the decline in UK High Streets where retailers have been struggling to maintain their relevance. 

Their research observed that commentators often blame store closures on online shopping, and poor footfall on the weather, but they found a different problem and it related to High Streets maintaining a variety of services and a cohesiveness that met customer needs. In particular they found that local councils and businesses had not worked well together in coping with change.

Have Your Say – click here.

Meeting A Mentor

This is Katya Ellis. She is co-ordinating the free mentoring sessions under the Trader Connect program. A number of connections have already taken place and we have good reports from traders.

Katya has retail experience and market experience so she is a good first port of call. You can book a first session by ringing or emailing her on 1300 631 171, 

Alternatively, you can book the free sessions by going direct to the Small Business Mentoring Website -
1. Visit
2. Click 'I want to book with a voucher'
3. Enter code 'QVM' and click "book with this voucher"
At this stage you will see a list of 12 mentors who have been selected as most appropriate for QVM. There are many more if you wish to delve further.

Trading Hours Debate Takes A Twist

Traders have long agonised (and procrastinated) over market trading hours and this week CEO Stan Liacos publicly raised the issue in a newspaper article which will delight some and horrify others. 

There seems little doubt that QVM trading hours don’t meet common consumer expectations. Most of us have experienced the customer confusion at our trading times, and if random turning up is any guide, the number of customers who turn up on or after closing times should tell us something.

The CBD is now opening later and closing later and yet when the TRC were asked to look at market trading hours we understand they played around with minimal extensions. Their reluctance is probably understandable given the variety of operational demands on different market precincts and particularly the historical early starts for many of our fresh food operators.

Nevertheless, this is one aspect of our operation that needs serious attention. Do we start small and select just one precinct to trial new hours? Or does this require across the board adherence to work. Do we follow the TRC lead and just extend in regular small increments over the longer term? Do we curate the market so that those who are willing to trade new hours are grouped together?

There are many options, and now that CEO Stan Liacos has lit the fuse, maybe we can come up with a solution that will achieve what we all want – better business levels and strong growth for the future.

22/04/2018 22:58:04      trading hours          "Do we know how many traders took part in the Trading Hours survey and what the results were? That could determine a good starting point to trial? 8.30am to 5.30pm is a nice long day with 2hrs either side for setup / pack up. If we are trying to attract more locals after work then they will be arriving when we are packing so perhaps hour later start / finish could be better ."
Yes, if we are going to target city commuters then the finishing time is important. Good discussion points. Thank you - Ed

23/04/2018 10:48:22      Trading Hours         "We can change the trading hours any way you like  but if the shopping offer is out dated and looking tired then we will cease to be relevant .
It is up to the stall holder to stay on trend and remain current."
Yes, trading hours are one aspect of our offer, but we have plenty of other things that we need to get right as well. Thanks for your input. - Ed

Market Traders…….. It’s not you!

Many traders are on the merry-go-round of improving their offer in a whole lot of different ways as we tackle the negative impact of this retail revolution, but sometimes it is not the offer that is at fault. 

There are times when we all need to take a deep breath and acknowledge that other things are at play. Sometimes it is not the supply side of the business equation but the demand side that is restricting sales.

The last few days in the Upper Market have shown remarkable differences in consumer reaction. Thursday was generally considered a good trading day with good crowds and a number of traders reporting the best sales in some time. It led some to speculate that interstate school holidays that started later than Victoria were starting to feed interstate visitors into the market.

Friday had good crowds in the Upper Market (in fact one trader complained he had difficulty getting his stock trolley through the crowd around mid-day), but many reported poor business, and the momentum from Thursday was not sustained. Saturday was a real conundrum because there were huge crowds in Queen St. with long queues at many of the food outlets, but business in the Upper market was poor.

A couple of traders have reported that their sales have been dominated by international buying this week, one saying that every single customer on Saturday was international (and he wasn’t selling souvenirs).

There are obviously many factors currently impacting on customer buying patterns. We know that we need to spread our influence as wide as possible these days and things like websites and social media can help. We may need to re-examine our trading hours as suggested by CEO Stan Liacos. In particular we need to communicate with our customers, understand what they are looking for, and keep our product range relevant. 

Assuming we are doing all those things, there is no sense in beating ourselves up over days when sales are poor. The customer is the master, and they can be fickle. That is just part of modern retailing.

22/04/2018 22:24:27      Market Traders it's not you         "Many traders have many opinions on many subjects. However with all the uncertainty over the past few years should we just control what we can control and concentrate our energy & focus on the customers we do get."

Retail News - Toys’R’Us In Australia, Unseasonal Weather, Starbucks Rascist Uproar.

Toys’R’Us To Survive In Australia – according to Smartcompany there have been a number of offers for the Asian and Australian operations of Toys’R’Us which suggest the brand will survive in those locations. There are currently 44 stores trading across Australia.

Unseasonal Weather A Big Problem For Clothing Retailers – unseasonably hot weather in Australia has created a dilemma for clothing retailers as stocks of winter goods sit on the shelves and in the racks. Mid-season sales usually reserved for July are already appearing in some online offers.

Starbucks Move Quickly In Rascist Uproar – Calling police to evict two black men innocently waiting at a Starbucks table in Philadelphia has gone viral and created a huge image problem for Starbucks. The Company has responded with what many believe is an appropriate action and will close all US store for several hours next month for racial bias training for its 175,000 employees.

Chinese Tourism On The Rise

China is now Australia’s number one source of tourists with a staggering 226,900 arriving in February alone, and breaking the record for that month. They have replaced New Zealand as our largest source of tourists.

BusinessInsider is drawing a link between February’s 0.6% rise in retail sales and the influx of Chinese tourists.

Within QVM there is anecdotal evidence that the nature of Chinese visitation is changing. Traders are reporting more independent Chinese visitations in addition to the usual organised tours. What are described as middle income visitors, often with a good understanding of English, are starting to become more obvious.

One of our traders is closely watching that trend and has plans to adjust his range for a more discerning Chinese visitor, often looking for items with a distinctive Australian flavour.

Earlier this month we reported on the importance of tourism to the Upper Market -

The potential of Chinese tourism is immense as its large population rapidly becomes more global in its outlook.

Have Your Say – click here.

The Alternative To Car Parking

Target US are ramping up their delivery services and identifying the convenience for public transport shoppers as the main driver.
Target are saying that more and more customers are abandoning car usage on clogged roads and are happy to use the convenience of public transport and pay $7 to have their shopping sent direct to their door the same day.
The service applies across shopping categories including food, homewares and even furniture with a slightly higher delivery fee.

PS - Coles Australia have just announced nationwide same day delivery service through Airtasker.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Stop Making QVM A Political Bouncing Ball

According to the Herald-Sun overnight, Lord Mayor hopeful’s pollster Gary Morgan, and academic Sally Warhaft, want to make the upcoming city election all about stopping QVM development.

When are these people going to get it? Our market can’t be left as it is. It is slowly failing. We need professionally designed adjustment to meet the needs of consumers in 2018 and beyond. Fortunately the CoM has high level professional designers on the job.

There is a plan for recovery, and yes, it will be done within a traditional building framework. The city is going to carefully dismantle, repair, and re-install heritage sheds so they will last another 140 years for goodness sakes. In the process they will at last offer a work safe environment for traders and customers. The only substantial changes above ground will be a lift well occupying the space of approximately 3 double stalls, an underground access ramp for vehicles, and thicker roofing panels to offer some heat protection in summer. Check out the artist’s impression showing how the market will look from Peel St. after the renewal. Does that look like a market destroyed?

What will destroy our market is traders leaving because the market is no longer relevant to consumers. No consumers, means no business, means no market. We need to show consumers that we are relevant to modern shopping, will be available when they want to shop, can safely offer fresh, clean, well stored produce, and can even engage in online access. And of course we will do all that with the continuing ace card of professional personal service from stallholders.

The New Market Pavilion although temporary will be a great marketing tool. Showcasing our best products, and experimenting with things like trading hours, produce presentation and a whole range of sensible innovations for one of the world’s great markets. We can pretend that there isn’t a global retail revolution going on or we can grasp this opportunity to showcase what we can do.

Traders have been screaming for greater promotion of our market. What we have can only be flogged so many ways. What we can offer with improved facilities, a showcase pavilion and a bit of innovation, has great potential.

This is not about destroying our market, it is about making it more relevant to modern consumers, and ensuring the one thing (and probably the only thing) that will protect QVM into the future – strong business based relevance to modern shoppers. 

The changes proposed by CoM are modest. It would be nice if all these outside voices could grasp the business reality of trading at an old market in the middle of new consumerism. The very thing they are trying to save is at risk from their “do nothing” attitude.

By Greg Smith (39 years trading at QVM)

Sunday 15 April 2018

Heard Under The Sheds – 15/4/2018

A quote from one of our traders – The nay-sayers used to say about our market “If it is not broken don’t fix it”. Then they said “It just needs a coat of paint”. Now we know it is broken, and a coat of paint isn’t the answer, do they have another option? Maybe a showcase market pavilion?

Lord Mayoral Candidate Sally Capp was seen in our market on Saturday talking to traders. She was accompanied by Board Member David Mann.

Experienced Traders – you could tell the experienced traders who knew what the weather was bringing on Saturday and moved from their Peel St facing stalls to other locations in the market for the day.

Weather Proofing – Saturday’s storms brought the expected response from traders. When will we make some useful expenditure at our market and provide protection for customers and traders? String Bean Alley and F Shed traders were not the only ones to lose on the day.

A trader has asked if anybody has met a mentor yet?

A sigh of relief from some traders when it was revealed that Phil Cleary could not run for Lord Mayor due to the fact that he was not correctly registered.

A trader had to feel sorry for the tourists at his stall on Saturday who had bought light clothing in Friday’s 26 degree heat only to be greeted by 12 degrees (feels like 6.3) on Saturday morning. Our weather does test the inexperienced traveller. Actually it probably tests any traveller.

No trader departures advised this week although one of our String Bean Alley Traders is giving up his container in favour of his other stall and another has asked if they can advertise their business for sale on Victraders. As mentioned elsewhere there is some concern that without renewal activity we will now see more departures.

Management Departures - We have reports that Fiona Whitworth has resigned and will be leaving the market in June. We understand there are no complications here, just a straight forward career move.

Arrivals - Vic Market Gifts have announced the arrival of their newest worker, Max. Welcome to Max.

Latest Retail News – 15/4/2018

Latest Retail News – 15/4/2018
1. Adidas says it will shift focus to online.
2. More food in shopping centres means more competition for current operators.
3. Aussie brand Homebodii gets Nordstrom deal.
4. Nine West files for bankruptcy in US.
5. 99 year old founder of Godfreys looks to buy back struggling business.
6. Amazon Australia says it still has a long way to go.
7. Baby Bunting warns that other retailers clearing stock during administration will hurt their results.
8. NAB says retail is on the up, but continues to underperform other sectors.
9. Chinese market supplier links up with 150 store pharmacy chain Chemsave to expand its diagou operation.
10. Michael Hill fails to secure a buyer for its US operations.
11. UK supermarket giant, Tesco, reports huge jump in profit after several years in doldrums.
12. Toys’R’Us reports billion dollar bids for Asian operations.
13. Online optical business, Vision Direct, to open first flagship store in Melbourne.

I Shopped The World This Week And It Taught Me Something

I bought a watch this week - a not too expensive, particular model of a particular brand.

When my wife complained about spending money (I do have other watches) I explained that I had scored a bargain (I love reversing that common shopping justification).

I had purchased this watch at the best price, not just in Melbourne, not even just in Australia, but at the best price in the whole wide world. I had trolled google, ebay, Amazon, and every other option I could think of, and purchased from a reputable dealer in the US. There was one cheaper price online but I can’t quite shop in Belarus with confidence.

And did I feel guilty for not purchasing from one of the excellent QVM watch sellers? Well, yes, I like to give my business to traders where possible, but this was one item that was not readily available in the market. Of course customers rarely use emotion in their choice of seller.

This little experience got me thinking. What happens when customers search for my products? How do I compare with my worldwide competitors? What point of difference do I offer to meet my customer’s needs? Maybe these are questions we should all be asking.

Social Media The Answer To Customer Mistrust?

Writer and entrepreneur, Scott Oldford, wrote in Entrepreneur Magazine this week- “I’m sorry to tell you this, but most people don’t trust you.”

And it is true - particularly in a market. We have come a long way from the bad old days when market traders sold nothing but rejects, or what had fallen off the back of a truck, but our heritage is a little tainted.

Customers don’t trust us, at least at first contact, and the selling process doesn’t give a lot of time to correct that impression. It might be said that the whole intent of the selling process is to convince customers that we are wholesome individuals that they can trust with their spending. This is where social media comes in.

Testimonials to our credibility as retailers will often help new customers feel comfortable with us. Written words, quotes, or photographs on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and others can be very helpful in creating pre-trust amongst potential customers. One of our traders who does that very well is Mino Voloder (see photo above).

The written word (or photograph) can have remarkable credibility and influence. The importance of this type of communication is illustrated by the ongoing attempts across social media to keep things clean, remove false news, and avoid fake testimonials. “Likes” on Facebook, positive feedback on eBay, and good reviews generally are all very important to serious retailers.

So, if you don’t have social media exposure then get some (the QVM Marketing team may be able to help you here). Ask your customers to give feedback and reviews, and ask if they would object to you posting a photograph on your social media.

Social media is a rich new source of exposure for traders and most of it is free.