Sunday 28 October 2018

Heard Under The Sheds - 28/10/2018

Box Storage - so storage boxes have been moved out of the roller door facility in M Shed and everything is ok. Or is it? One trader pointed out that maybe we have just shifted the boxes elsewhere, as our photo shows. More to be done here and we have been advised that follow up will take place with the traders concerned.

Night Market - the last Wednesday Night Hawker Market received a thumbs up from a number of traders. Now the Night Market has a three week break before the start of the bigger Summer Night Market.

Colourful bollard covers brighten up the Peel St facade with a bit of a bonus for one of market family - Guru Pete doesn’t have to clean out cigarette butts from the hole in the top of the concrete blocks anymore. Happy Pete. And by the way, Pete’s weekly tip on the Victraders facebook page came in third on Saturday and paid a whopping $6. Happier Pete.

Getting back to basics – one of our traders said that it is easy to forget our prime purpose here at QVM. With all the politics, rules and regulations, future plans, and endless debates, we are really only here for one thing – to sell to our customers. Everything else is incidental.

On a similar vein, another trader has resurrected his collection of Inspirational Salesmanship CD’s. He figures that salesmanship skills, especially closing the sale, need regular reinforcement by himself and his staff.

A trader asks why it is necessary to place a pallet of market tables on a major walkway at the market. It was early in the morning but foot traffic from the car park to the Fruit & Vegetable traders in A and B Sheds can start early.

Taylor Swift might be a great performer but there was general disappointment with crowd attendance over the weekend. A number of traders thought that 50,000 or so fans at Etihad Stadium should have had a bigger impact.

A week ago we published a photo of Trader Mino receiving help from market insurance man Leon Nissen. Mino had experienced a robbery at his showroom/warehouse and needed help making an insurance claim. Leon has been around our market for a long time and is well versed in insurance requirements for traders. We asked Leon for his contact details and here they are – Leon Nissen 0418563091 Leon is an Account Manager with Scott Winton, Insurance Brokers.

Retail Expertise - in last week’s Heard Under The Sheds we mentioned a traders suggestion to include some retail expertise in the appointment of the Committee of Trustees. One trader has asked whether there really are any experts in retailing these days. Retailing is being re-invented as we go and there are plenty of so-called retail experts out of work following high profile retail collapses. Given the success of activities like the Night Market and the undoubted experience of current traders maybe we already have what we need at QVM.

A great little story from one of our traders about the time he took part in an expo at a major conference centre and nobody turned up. There were plenty of sellers but only half a dozen buyers although he noticed that each one of those buyers was carrying a broom. The broom seller near the main entrance had a simple philosophy - don't worry about how many customers there are, just do your best to sell to each one. Its called making the most of limited opportunities.

Trader Strategy In Tough Times.

It is said that there are three types of business. Those that have had tough times, those that are having tough times, and those that are going to have tough times.There have been various terms to describe business in the Upper Market over the last few weeks and some of them are unprintable, but “diabolical” probably comes closest.

Before we start this little guide on how to react in tough times, let’s state something important up front - this not about you or your product. This is about poor consumer demand and we are all experiencing the same thing - reasonable crowds producing very little sales.

So how do we occupy ourselves (and keep our sanity) when we are feeling unwanted and unloved?
1.    Keep busy- Inactivity is catching and we don’t want customers to get the impression that our offer is generally unappreciated. According to one business advisor, most businesses leave around 25% of their tasks incomplete. You could tidy up displays, dust, repair, and replace. You might use quiet times to update your price list, take photos of your products and put them on your website or Facebook page. The list goes on.
2.    Treat your customers well- I know, this can be really hard. After all we are feeling un-loved. The good buyers are missing, and this lot seems to be wasting our time. But it is not their fault, and at some stage they will return as buyers. It is important that we leave the right impression.
3.    Plan your next holiday - seriously, exchange this feeling of neglect for something far more positive. In fact, maybe plan a quick break straight away. There is nothing like a good break from work to refocus and adopt positive action.
4.    Be careful who you listen to - there are plenty of unsupported views on why business is quiet. Often they involve blaming somebody else. There are a lot of things that can impact on business but essentially, and right now, it is just low consumer demand.
5.    Strategise - you might be the type who works best under financial or emotional pressure, so get creative and start planning some new strategies - new products, new marketing, new merchandising. Even if the buyers return fairly quickly you stand a better chance of attracting a wider audience with some new offers.
6.    Consult a mentor - we have a structured mentoring program for traders at QVM and it makes good sense to take advantage of it.
7.    And perhaps the best strategy of all is to plan what you will do when the upturn comes - it will happen.

QVM In The News - 28/10/2018

It's popular with locals as their go-to spot for fresh fruit, veggies, meat and an outstanding variety of dairy and smallgoods, but Melbourne's Queen ...
Also be sure to stop by local specialties (like the Dongjin Market) or iconic gems ... St. Kilda Beach, or shop until you drop at Queen Victoria Market.
The City of Melbourne is half-way through its “deliberative democracy” process, which it hopes will get its Queen Victoria Market (QVM) redevelopment ...

Why Your Business Needs A Website

Every business has a window – for some it is a physical window (e.g. a retail shop), for others it’s a market stall and for many now it’s a website.

Did you know that only 45% of Australian businesses have websites BUT 90%+ of consumers go online to get information before deciding where to buy?

Simply, the number of people using Google to find products and services means you will be missing out on sales opportunities if you are not online.

The SBMS Business Mentors have compiled an article to assist traders with setting up their own website. Click here to go to the full article.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Heard Under The Sheds - 21/10/2018

J Shed Lighting – one of our intrepid traders took some light readings this week and they showed considerable disparity between stalls. Now we want to stress that there are many factors that need to be taken into account when measuring retail lighting and this was just a quick check one morning. Here are some readings and it is worth noting that showrooms aim for around 500 lux while super market lighting is usually desired around 750 lux.
J 44/45 (new LED light) Walkway 481 Stall Interior 719
J 49/ (LED light) W 435 Int 691
J 59/60 W 819 (lower hanging) Int 348
J 30/31 W 456 Int 228
J 22/23 W 503 Int 306
J 14/15 W 428 Int 197
J 3/4 W 230 (pre-existing older non LED light) Int 197
The readings were taken directly under lights and moving away from that position resulted in a significant drop in readings. Of course retail lighting is usually enhanced with supplementary spots and the like but without electricity at stall level we don’t have that option.

In The Wind – apparently at least one trader has expressed concern that new containers proposed for String Bean Alley might restrict airflow in summer. One L Shed trader tells us he blesses the day that containers arrived at the top of the aisle and protected him from destructive winds that whipped in under the sheds and damaged stock and displays. Perhaps it depends on who you ask, where they trade, and of course the weather on the day.

The New Information Hub has raised concern with its placement. Traders were surprised at how far back under the shed it has been set and the narrow trading space left behind in L Shed. Are the proposed new containers going to be set back as well?

The empty stalls around the upper market this Sunday have led to speculation that the extremely tough trading conditions right now are simply making the high Sunday rents un-economic for many traders. If they still have leave credits they are taking them.

Rumours that a petition might do the rounds on Tuesday seeking trader objections to the proposed new containers in String Bean Alley. This might test out those traders who have already expressed interest in one of the containers and indeed any trader who sees them as an attractive option.

Box Storage In M Shed – the ban on storing boxes in the roller door sheds at the top of SBA seems to have survived its first week without too much drama. Presumably traders have been able to make other arrangements. We can confirm that market equipment has been moved into those sheds. How did you fare with alternative arrangements? Please comment here.

One trader told us on Friday that he was worried about meeting his obligations after some poor trading and then on Sunday announced that he had a bumper day – the delicious uncertainty of retailing right now.

Committee of Trustees - a trader has suggested that this new body could be a perfect opportunity to inject some hardcore retail experience into the management process.

Entertainment - a trader has acknowledged that we probably can't turn the Day Market into a Night Market with all its entertainment and food options but maybe some entertainment could be part of the day experience. He joked that it would keep traders from getting bored but his suggestion is serious. He is thinking of roving entertainment or perhaps a stage that could be positioned in different areas on different days.

What Is Wrong With Containers?

The City Of Melbourne on behalf of Queen Victoria Management Pty Ltd is applying to Heritage Victoria for the installation of more relocatable pods (shipping containers) in String Bean Alley. And the question has been asked – “Do they fit with our old market?”

In a sense they are perfect. The Upper market has always been about function before form. You only have to look at our proliferation of steel racks and steel storage boxes in the market. Those facilities are not pretty and it is clear that efficient operation and meeting the needs of the operating conditions of the time are the driving forces in our choice of facilities.

Of course the “current trading situation” has changed dramatically over the last decade. Customers have many more buying choices. They are in the box seat and demanding increasing levels of convenience and accessibility. They are now seeking a mix of shopping and pleasure (our successful night markets are proof of that), longer trading hours, and new demands are being placed on market traders as we compete with a whole range of retailing options.

Relocatable pods allow us to improve our offer through better displays. They allow us to trade at a variety of hours with a roller door the only barrier to when we trade. Some traders will save 4 hours per day setting-up and packing up. That time can be better spent on more actual trading hours, more time to fine tune their retail offer through stock acquisition and in-house websites, and even more flexibility to meet family demands.

QVM will always have open stand stalls but containers offer a better way for many traders and CEO, Stan Liacos, has confirmed that demand for this option is very high.

Shipping containers are not pretty, but like our facilities over the last 140 years, they are functional. For many small family traders they are the answer to meeting the increasing demands of consumers.

Shipping containers are simply an efficient tool to meet modern trading needs. The blessing is that we can incorporate them within our wonderful traditional shed environment and help make our market a better place for traders and customers.

By Greg Smith

Disclosure: The author of this article is a tenant in a SBA container and may benefit from increased traffic flow if the approval is granted.

Latest Retail News - 21/10/2018

Latest Retail News – 21/10/2018
1. Iconic Lygon Food Store goes into administration.
2. Nike opens first House of Innovation in Shanghai.
3. 60% of Aussies expect most retailing will be done online within 5 years.
4. Measly retail growth in August.
5. Consumer sentiment stabilises after 2 months of falls.
6. Luxury group, LVMH, announce drop in Chinese demand.
7. Sears prepares to file for bankruptcy.
8. Violet Crumble returns to Aussie hands.
9. Adairs to focus on new categories, larger stores and online.
10. Westfield unveils Living Centre Of The Future with 40% dedicated to dining, entertainment and leisure.
11. Coles sales lift 5% in first quarter.
12. Recent court ruling on leave for casuals could impact on retail industry.
13. Myer relaunches “My Store” campaign.
14. Michael Hill first quarter sales drop.
15. Kaufland gets ready to tackle Australian market.
16. Uniglo Asian profit jumps by 34%.
17. Amazon Australia launches into food.
18. Woolworths invests $30m in organic food.
19. Premier Investments calls for removal of Myer Board.
20. Roger David Appoints administrators.
21. Max Brenner rescue falls through.

Reject Shop Share Price Plunges – Reject Shop have announced that same store sales were down 2.4% in the first 15 weeks of the financial year which translates to a possible 44% drop in profit for the year. Concidentally their share price dropped 44% as a result of the announcement.

Roger David Enters Administration – Australian menswear chain, Roger David, is to launch an immediate clearance sale as it prepares to shut down after Christmas.

QVM In The News - 21/10/2018

Queen Vic gets hi-tech
MENTORS are working with stallholders from the 140-yearold Queen Victoria Market to help them build their businesses amid confusion over the ...
Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market is about to get cheesey in the best possible way, hosting a cheese huge cheese festival for you to get your snack ...
Queen Victoria Market traders have responded to comments Neil Mitchell made last week about being “ripped off” when he used to shop at the market.

Saturday 20 October 2018

Progress For The Day Market

The decision by QVM Management to apply for more containers in M Shed will create opportunities for 12 more of our traders to experience the benefits of container trading particularly in association with the Night Market.

String Bean Alley has been largely incomplete since its inception over 5 years ago although it has always had the potential to provide a different look at the broad range of products available at our market.

Ideally, as many traders as possible will get to experience the convenience of roller door set-up and pack-up and the merchandising potential of a permanent display.

An application has been made to Heritage Victoria and a decision is expected in coming months.

Monday 15 October 2018

The Birdbath Principle – Particularly Relevant To Traders

The Birdbath Principle is best explained by the example of choosing to place your birdbath in the centre of a lawn where feeding birds are exposed, or placing it adjacent to foliage where birds can feel comfortable and safe.

This all comes from an article by Bri Williams on smartcompany It has relevance to retail and exposes unique problems for market traders because of the size and configuration of our stalls. Essentially it relates to removing fear on the part of customers – making them feel comfortable about entering your stall and getting the right exposure to your product range without being pounced upon by staff.

One technique for many traders is to display on the line. In other words, set up display tables at the front of the stall so customers can view everything from the comfort of a public area. For some traders that is not feasible, largely because of the size of their product range and the need to have customer entry and circulation to present their full range.

Containers in String Bean Alley and shops on Victoria St have bigger problems because customers have to consciously step up or into the retail space. At least one trader in String Bean Alley positions himself on the outside of the container to give customers the freedom to circulate without fear of being pounced on.

Another trader I notice is constantly on the move for similar reasons. Customers need to feel they can move freely. Apparently there have been studies that you need at least 1.2m clearway at any point in your stall to encourage customer movement and we have written on Victraders before about avoiding the dreaded "bum brush" for customers. 

Giving customers freedom is all very well in normal shops but smaller spaces have their challenges. Maybe this is worth experimentation at your stall. If you can encourage an extra 1 in 10 potential customers to engage at your stall, the effort could be very worthwhile.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Heard Under The Sheds – 14/10/2018

And There Was Light…..The reaction to a very dim J Shed following works on the roof was pretty swift with an SMS going out to traders on Tuesday and new temporary lighting installed on Wednesday. We have had a couple of favourable reactions but what did you think? – comment on Have Your Say.

The new Visitor Hub has arrived in String Bean Alley with at least one trader saying. “ A 40ft container! – that is what I want for my business.”

A Trader told us the story of his customer who was so overwhelmed with their purchase that they picked up their parcel and started to leave without paying. We’ve all experienced something similar and when the customer was politely told that they hadn’t paid, they were extremely embarrassed and apologetic. They completed payment, thanked the trader for their service, and left – without their purchase. The trader was last seen trying to track them down a couple of aisles away.

The latest Trader Bulletin asked for stories of great deeds done by traders causing one to say “I get up at 4:30 each trading day – most of my friends think that is pretty amazing”. Maybe not quite what our promotions people had in mind.

We are receiving reports from the Upper Market of incredible volatility in sales patterns. A good trading day followed by a complete disaster is a common complaint. Maybe a sign of consumer confidence in turmoil?

One trader was intrigued by a conversation with a couple of shoppers who were walking a dog. They said they used to shop elsewhere on Saturdays but wanted a way to integrate dog time with their normal weekend activities. They now shop weekly at QVM with their dog and love the experience.

Trading Hours – a few traders were caught out as bollards were put in place in the Upper Market right on 8:00 am following a letter to all traders from CEO, Stan Liacos. The general view seemed to be that tightening up on trading times, and sticking with advertised opening and closing times is the right move. What did you think?

What Rally? A trader showed us a leaflet calling “Stallholders and Traders” to a “Change The Rules Rally” on Tuesday 23rd October. Turns out it is a generally advertised rally for union members from many industries across Australia to protest at the power of big business.

Good Advice – many traders will recognise Leon in the white shirt in this photo. Leon has been advising traders on insurance matters for a long time. Trader Mino asked us to take this photo because he felt traders should know about one of Leon’s many services. Mino suffered a burglary at his Dandenong showroom and was having trouble organising the insurance claim. Leon has stepped in to offer his advice on how to fill out a claim. If Leon reads this article perhaps he can let us know his contact details so we can pass on to traders.

Rent Debate – one of our traders has pointed out that some groups in our market have a much greater capacity to pay than our struggling Specialty Merchandise Traders. Business For Sale advertisements reveal incomes in Fruit & Vegetable, Meat & Fish, and the deli, many times higher than Specialty Merchandise. Rent/Revenue Ratios have been recorded at 1.9% in the deli, and 4.7% in Fruit & Vegetables (including outgoings) while this trader’s Rent/Revenue Ratio is around 13%. As this trader says, nobody begrudges these businesses for making money – it is just about proportioning costs.

Have Your Say – click here.

15/10/2018 08:55:42       Rent Debate "Rent is just one expense.  It is divisive and illustrates a lack of financial knowledge to discuss the rent expense in terms of revenue percentages.  A more accurate measure would be to look at the Profit and Loss report as a whole.  High revenues do not equal profitability.  The composition of fixed expenses will vary with the type of business. 

For example using the same logic - as a fruit and vegetable business I pay more than $5000 in wages each week.  My wages to revenue percentage would be higher than General Merchandise.  Using the percentage of revenue logic I should be able to pay a lower rate of wages than General Merchandise because of the higher percentage.  Is this something I can debate about to lobby for lowering my wages expense - no - I have to pay according to the Award including penalty rates for working on a Public Holiday.
We are all hurting at the moment with a significant decline in customer numbers over the last 6 months.  I am struggling to make a profit even though my takings are a high amount.  I have to cut staff, I'm being told I need to stay open until 5pm on Fridays even though it is not profitable, the rent has just gone up, I've bills in the to pay pile are mounting faster than the paid pile. I get up at 1:45am most mornings, I don't get to do much with the kids, I don't have social events with friends, etc etc. So don't look at my revenue and tell me I should pay more rent. By the way the shiny new truck is still being paid off - they cost more than $75,000 just so I can haul the stock from the other end of Melbourne each morning.
I invite any retailer to sit down with a fruiterer to look at their Profit and Loss Report and compare expenses as a whole rather than just picking out one single item." Tired and overworked       
A great response. Thanks for the insight. Business is very tough. We all have that in common. - Ed

15/10/2018 12:03:42       Rents "Rent may be ""just one expense"" but it is rents we are talking about here. And as much as I can feel empathy for fellow traders in other areas, for their workload and personal sacrifices etc. the general issue of rents is a mathematical question not an emotional one.
The issue here is that the Gen Merch traders are bearing a significantly larger share of the costs than they generate. I don't believe it is unfair to suggest that if you don't generate the expense you shouldn't bear the cost.  
I would also suggest that whether you chose to determine rents by revenue, profitability or cost generation to QVM Pty Ltd, Gen Merch Traders as a group would be always end up paying much lower rents than they currently are. "  
Another considered response. Thank you for adding to the discussion - Ed   

QVM Facebook Promotion

QVM's Facebook promotion is relentless. Below are some examples from the last week or so, and with an impressive 75,000 likes the impact is significant.

You can checkout all the QVM posts at or get a mix of QVM and trader posts shared on the Victraders Facebook page at

Retail News Stories – 14/10/2018

Why Specialty retailers Are Getting Into The Restaurant Business -

A Thank You To Fellow Traders

A Trader has asked us to pass on his thanks to five different groups of fellow traders. 

Now his “thank you” is part serious, part having a dig, and part frustration.

The first group involves those traders who come in late to the market. By the time they rock-up he has usually made a few sales which  he figures may not have been possible after all his competitors arrive.

The second group is those who pack early. He usually waits around and picks up a few extra sales at the end of the day and less competition means a better chance of earning those extra dollars.

Then there are those traders who don’t have EFTPOS. Over time this has probably got to the top of his list because as we all know, electronic payments are rapidly replacing cash.

Another big contributor to his sales performance are the traders who sit at their stall playing games on their mobile phones. Ignored customers may just end up at his stall and he is quick with a greeting.

Finally there are traders who are rude to their customers -“Please don’t touch unless you are buying” or “We are closed for today, come back tomorrow”. According to this trader, some of his competitors use such language.

So there you have it - five different ways to help this trader and probably do yourself a disservice.

Have Your Say - click here.

15/10/2018 14:47:00       The thank you          "As I’m lying on the beach in Koh Samui,and reading the above, it made my day. I would love to know who the trader was . Excellent "     Andy
Thanks Andy. I will ask him if it is ok to publish his name. How about some photos from Koh Samui? - Ed.

Sunday 7 October 2018

Heard Under The Sheds – 7/10/2018

J Cave - the jokes are rolling in about the blackout in J Shed following this week’s installation of shade cloth to minimise the impact of heat under the glass roof. The result is a very dark aisle, even on bright sunny days. Traders are asking if customers will be issued with mining helmets as they enter the aisle and one says he will be sending an email congratulating QVM on creating the long awaited Night Market atmosphere in the Day Market.
Jokes aside, one trader suggested that perhaps new lighting should have been part of the installation program? 

Rent Debate - a Trader has suggested that if the rent increase is based on recovering costs then maybe the rent each trader pays should be based on cost. Factors like space, position, cleaning costs, marketing costs, and electricity supply, all operate in different ways in different precincts of the market. Then there is income - some precincts have greater capacity to pay, based on their income, than others. Maybe our simple “rent for a spot” could be a bit more sophisticated and a bit fairer.

Trader Comings and Goings - trader John returns after heart surgery and Trader Lana will be taking a few weeks off after suffering a sports injury.

Customer Comings & Goings - the variety of customers at our market is of course mind-boggling. One trader says he can’t wait to see what 80,000 WWE wrestling fans at the MCG might bring to our market after Saturday night.

Night Market Scam - apparently four traders were targeted by the same group on Wednesday night as the scammers attempted to fabricate refunds on EFTPOS transactions. QVM’s security staff have taken an active interest in the events with a focus expected at this week’s Night Market. (See separate article)

Traders Lounge – a trader said he found the Trader’s Lounge very useful this week as it allowed his staff to upload photos for his new website using the wi-fi facility.

One trader who has been away from the market for some time was very impressed with the renovated toilet block on Queen St.

The Son of a Trader who said he couldn’t wait to get out of his family market obligations as a teenager now finds a curious attraction to QVM over 25 years later. He told us he loves bringing his children here to enjoy the market atmosphere.

One Trader wants to know how quickly the trend to staffless stores will develop. He is counting on new technology that will allow him to set up his stall and then disappear for the day.

The good old ways triumph. Market Traders, Catcher Coats, were recently asked to create a fashion statement for Melbourne Fashion Week and apparently their full length men’s coat in pillar-box red stole the show and earned an article in the Age. Well done to David & Sally.

A Trader comments how good it is that negative press about our market seems to have gone away, and customers have stopped asking if we are closing. He believes the negative publicity does a lot of harm. Yes, things are tough but let's just get back to retail basics and focus on our customers.

Have Your Say – click here.

08/10/2018 10:17:12       J Shed "I don't care who's responsible for J sheds current state but please fix it ASAP. It's an embarrassing eye sore".

08/10/2018 10:30:01       Traders Ball  "Rather than just rewarding traders who have big social media sites why not try to recognise traders that have contributed to the various committees or sub committees over the years.
Trying to better the market for all traders in their own time and giving back to wider market community is to me more worthy of recognition.

I can think of many traders in this category."
Good point - thanks for your input. The aim of this years event is double-barrelled - recognise traders, and get a marketing spin-off that will benefit every trader. Of course it is not just traders with big social media sites that can participate. Every trader can participate through their engagement with customers at the stall. Those with say a Facebook page may be able to access more votes and if you believe all the hype around changing retail, perhaps every trader should get on board with social media. There is something to be said for rewarding traders who keep up with the times, engage customers in new ways, and add to the appeal of our market across all customer groups. But, I get your point - there are many forms of contribution. The question is whether that contribution makes us better. - Ed.

08/10/2018 12:32:33       J shed           "Who would have thought that the  professionals who took so long to get it right would have got it so wrong... please fix it so that we can all  see the light.....comments please mr editor"
I'm waiting on the corrective action - Ed.

08/10/2018 12:39:44       Ball     "Not all for us like to be in the lime light. I would like recognition however I do not wish to float my own boat so to speak. I would like to go about my businesss in a quiet and ethical  manner and be recognised without fanfare.... I think that is what the previous persson is trying to say. It has nothing to do with social media.... your comments please to give advice.thanks."
Not everyone is comfortable with the marketing fanfare. Is that what you are saying? If so, I agree. - Ed.