Sunday, 14 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 14/7/2019

Only at the Night Market - It was 9:30 pm, bitterly cold, a hail storm hit the market, and not one customer left the food queue at an outside food venue. That is commitment.

A couple of traders contributed $120 to a Market Officer’s charity challenge and two of their mates decided to contribute as well - but their contribution was $121. Never miss a chance for one-upmanship.

Some discussion under the sheds followed this week’s TRC meeting particularly in relation to trading hours. The transition to 9am to 3pm for the Upper Market during week days was pretty much expected but 5pm closing on Saturday and Sunday raised a few questions, essentially "Why?".

A customer from overseas said he was delighted to rug up for Melbourne’s chilly winter on Saturday, but then found himself sun-baking in the full glare of the sun, all on the same day.

A few Traders have commented on how good L Shed looks with all the new tenants on the South (carpark) side nestling up against the recently decorated SBA containers. It may take a few weeks for the economics to play out, but if looks count, L Shed should see a boost in foot traffic.

A certain purveyor of fabulous soups and juices in String Bean Alley has suggested that the vacant roller door sheds at the top of the aisle could be turned into a museum with interactive displays of the old market, a mini cinema, and educational elements for tourists, schools, and special interest groups. Contemporary light and sound shows could create quite an attraction.

A Trader suggests that the few remaining single use plastic bags in our market seem to be dominated by one category of Traders - those selling street clothing.

A Trader thought he had seen it all until he viewed a Uber motor cycle driving along the centre walkway to deliver a meal at 3:05pm on Sunday. It raises a few questions – Is that safe? Was the delivery for a customer or a trader? Should the world’s best food market be offended that someone found it necessary to go outside our market for food?

15/7/2019 Plastic Bags - "Unfortunately its not only street clothing with plastic bags, it seems that a number of my fellow souvenirs traders and t- shirt traders can’t understand the new rule. We look a but foolish if this keeps happening.
You can’t advertise plastic free, when we aren’t . Please don’t comment that its only a few, I don’t want to hear excuses." - Drita McLennan 
Thanks Drita - Ed

15/7/2019 Hours - "So how many different sets of hours will we have now.?
It has already been proven that until 5pm in the deli hasn’t worked, so why push it.
What seems to escape the powers that be is that we are small businesses that are mostly operated by1-2 people. If we are expected to trade till 5, what work/life balance does that give. Go one step back, we need hours to be across the board in all areas. You may get  away with the fresh sections with early hours but in the upper market to have Stringbean Alley, Information hub and general merchandise all on different time, is why marketing can’t market us. 
All areas in the top end should trade the same.  If the people know that the market is open until 3 pm everyday, then they will remember.
Can I please see the surveys results that are been sprouted as the reasons for 5pm and the questions that were asked to get this time?
Will the rents go up ?
A better option would be a standard 4pm finish everyday." - Drita McLennan

Thanks Drita - some great points. There is some data on city shopping habits that may have influenced the 5pm close and I will see if I can find that - Ed.

Ed: 1215 15/7/2019
The answer to the question "Why is 5:00pm closing being proposed for Saturday and Sunday" may lie in this graphic showing CoM pedestrian counts in 2016.
The dotted red line shows hourly pedestrian counts on weekends and the vertical red line shows where a 5:00pm closing would intersect, obviously still within peak pedestrian times for the city.
Would this translate for the various QVM precincts on weekends?

Charity Begins At QVM

Are Traders competitive? The answer is obviously yes, but sometimes it shows up in unusual ways, even in charitable pursuits.

Market Officer Richard Shortt is raising funds for mental health through the Push Up Challenge. Richard plans to complete 3128 push-ups over coming weeks and is seeking online donations from the community including traders. A couple of traders pooled in to contribute $120, a very tidy sum. Two of their mates decided to donate as well and made their own contribution of $121. The Push Up Challenge is benefiting nicely from the competitive streak in Traders.

If you wish to donate to a very worthwhile cause you can go to Richard’s donation page - - and, no, you don’t have to make it $122. All donations are welcome.

Market Officer, Marcus McInnes, is also participating in the Push Up Challenge, and his page can be found here -

A number of traders have already committed to this cause and it raises the question of whether the market community should have a more formal on-going charity connection - expect more on this in coming weeks.

NOTE: The Push-Up Challenge is raising money to support headspace, National Youth Mental Health Organisation - An organisation working to strengthen the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians.
The Push-Up Challenge started in 2018 and aims to raise awareness of mental health in Australia. This year, The Push-Up Challenge highlights the devastating number of Australian lives lost to suicide in 2017. 3,128 push-ups for 3,128 lives lost to suicide.

Trader Scammed

A Trader has reported a clever online scam which has cost them thousands of dollars and should be a serious warning for all traders.

The scam started with a reasonably substantial email order for delivery overseas and payment in advance which was a reassuring start to a series of transactions. Goods were paid by credit card with a mail order transaction completed on the Trader’s EFTPOS machine.

Perhaps a little unusual was the request for the Trader to use a special carrier and pay the delivery fee direct to the carrier. The delivery fee and the cost of the goods were reimbursed via the EFTPOS machine on each occasion.

Well, it turned out that the credit cards were stolen and the bank finally took action, cancelling the payments, and leaving our Trader out of pocket on the goods supplied and the fees paid to the delivery company. The ordering company, and the delivery company were scam operators.

This all took place over a month or so and thousands of dollars were involved. To make matters worse the bank shut down the Trader’s EFTPOS facility and issued a bill for outstanding funds. Many Traders would assume that the bank (in this case the CBA) would cover fraudulent action but that is not always the case. Many Trader’s would also assume that the use of stolen cards would be discovered quickly by the banking system but this went on for some weeks.

The Trader’s advice is simple - always double check unusual transactions, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

"We have had this happen to us but didn’t supply the goods as it didn’t ring true.
A way to make sure that your payment are secure is to only accept payment through an online account. We use the Eway system.
Transaction are verified before goods are sent out. The first 5 transactions a month are free.
Anyone that wants to pay any other way is knocked back and its an absolute red flag if they want to use their only delivery. 
You need to be firm on how you operate your business and don’t let customers dictate the terms." - Drita McLennan 

Thanks Drita. Great advice. - Ed

Call For More Retail Stimulus Now

The passing of tax concessions by the senate was seen as an important step to putting money back in Australian consumers pockets and hopefully stimulating spending but one academic says more is needed.

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics at UNSW, says the Government needs to unleash all its tax savings right now rather than stagger them over the coming years. He believes that our economy is in dire need of stimulus if we are to avoid recession and all the economic and social ills that comes with it. 

He argues that the Government should abandon its political brand (a surplus at all costs) and introduce bold stimulus measures to protect our economic health.

Read the full article here -

Latest Retail News – 14/7/2019

Latest Retail News – 14/7/2019
1. Big W launch interactive catalogue with Snapchat.
2. Coles teams with Microsoft for data driven customer engagement.
3. Freedom Furniture launches creative new range of kid’s room furniture.
4. Dominos trials cashless stores and admits most business is done online.
5. Shoppers urged to spend their tax windfall in retail as a boost to economy.
6. Michael Hill’s underpayment of staff may cost it $25m.
7. Low consumer sentiment continues in June.
8. Aussie retailers need to catch up on “click and collect” transactions.
9. David Jones and Country Road to shrink store numbers.
10. Westfield Tuggerah introduces “quiet hour” for customers with dementia and autism.

QVM In The News - 14/7/2019

QVM Features on Postcards foodie program -

Celebrated Melbourne chef and restaurant owner Scott Pickett will open Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, bringing his Queen Victoria Market concept to the ...

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 7/7/2019

A Trader sent us this photo taken after closing at the Night Market where clearly patrons have difficulty finding places to leave their food rubbish. The trader reckons if you stand still long enough you may end up becoming a target as well. The crowd on Wednesday night was certainly huge.

On a similar vein, we had a couple of complaints about congestion on Wednesday Night which may need some tweaking with crowd control, but certainly is a very nice problem to have.

A Trader says he listens intently to what his customers are asking for and attempts to meet their requests. With trends changing so quickly he reckons his customers will give him new pathways before he reads about them in trade magazines.

We’ve written elsewhere about Trader, David Kiper, and here he turns up again in a promotion sighted on one of our freeway overpasses.

Christmas at the market in July was featured on a Channel 10 morning show during the week including an on-air interview with Marketing Manager, Meg Dalla Lana, at Melbourne’s best Christmas shop, which is located within our market down on Elizabeth St.

A Trader asks if it is OK to growl at children who are mistreating stock in full view of their parents.

Traders are starting to move into L Shed in front of the newly decorated container shops.

A Trader was getting a lift home after a vehicle breakdown and the tow truck driver asked him if the Queen Victoria Market had re-opened yet. It seems that customer perception is difficult to shake following the untidy renewal debate a couple of years back.

And a little note about readership on Victraders – generally this Heard Under The Sheds article wins the readership poll every week but last week two other articles were more widely read – the report on the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards and the article about curating the gaps in the Upper Market.

Have Your Say – click here.

That's Not A Market, This Is A Market

The famous Crocodile Dundee line (That’s not a knife, this is a knife.) has inspired this comparison between the wannabe markets by the likes of Coles, Woolworths, IGA, and the real market - The Queen Vic Market.

The comparison is an idea from one of our long standing traders, David Kiper, and has been written about on these pages before, but it is said that a good idea bears repeating so let’s refresh the comparison.

That's not a market
This is a market.

That's not a market.
This Is A Market

That's not a market.
This is a market.

David intended that the “This is a market” line would be part of an advertising campaign with the final message directed to local consumers something like this - “Lee from Singapore, Omar from Dubai, and Anne from England all consider QVM one of the great markets of the world. Why aren’t you shopping at QVM?"

String Bean Alley Starts To Attract Crowds

With school holidays in full swing, and some fine weather, the crowds in String Bean Alley this weekend were encouraging.
 This is normally a particularly busy time for the Upper Market and the true test will come when conditions are not so ideal but Traders seem pleased with the start.
One Trader said he felt that at last String Bean Alley had truly become part of shopping in the market rather than just a transition aisle.
A few of the containers still need to open and an official opening will take place on Friday 19th. July.

Have Your Say - click here.

Make Our Market Great Again

“Make America great again” was a campaign slogan popularised by President Donald Trump in his 2016 campaign and it has featured in a number of formats including a Christmas sweater shown below. It is considered one of the most influential campaign slogans of all time.

Given that QVM is currently celebrating Christmas in July one of our Traders thought the concept could be refreshed with a variation “Make Our Market Great Again”. We have asked our (on-leave) caricaturist, Ivano, to add to the story. We will leave you to work out who the Trader might be and, yes, he may be a newly appointed Trader Representative who is very passionate about the success of our market.

Latest Retail News – 7/7/2019

Latest Retail News – 7/7/2019
1. Toys’R’Us launches more than 4000 products on Ebay.
2. Uniqlo to open 20th Australian store at Northland, Vic.
3. Officeworks staff vote to approve wage rise and more leave.
4. Manufacturing sector reports weakest conditions in 3 years.
5. Debenhams only Australian store in Melbourne to close as UK parent company calls in administrators.
6. Woolworths to get rid of its liquor and pokies businesses.
7. Nestle claims world’s first recyclable sweet wrapper.
8. Pepsi introduces cappuccino in a can to rival Coke’s coffee.
9. Dyson opens its first permanent bricks’n’mortar store in Australia.
10. Retail sales flat in May.
11. NRA says tax cuts should boost retail spending.

QVM In The News - 7/7/2019

... Melbourne's Crown Casino is cutting down its plastic usage, the Queen Victoria Market is banning plastic bags and straws and Coca-Cola Amatil is ...
... CBD spots like the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets, Queen Victoria Market and next to the Immigration Museum on cruise ship arrival days.
We are involved in a number of large, generational investment programs. You don't spend A$250 million on the Queen Victoria Market upgrade every ...

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 30/6/2019

Siberian Hamster - fans of Fawlty Towers will remember Manuel’s Siberian Hamster (it was in fact a more mundane rodent). A hamster was sighted in Spring Bean Alley on Saturday morning and was quickly bagged before it upset too many customers.

An experienced market person reckons that a Saturday Night Market is worth a try for the Upper Market.

Saturday’s combination of rain and extremely strong winds tested many traders and reinforced the luxury for those who trade in the comparative comfort of J-RL Sheds. A trader suggested that it was the height of optimism to read the forecast for Saturday and still come in expecting reasonable trade. Yep, we are just a bunch of optimists.

One trader said that two of his customers were unfazed by the atrocious weather. One was from Canberra, the other from Hobart.

A Trader says he made the mistake of checking his sales figures over the last few months and comparing them with last year. He now wishes he hadn’t although it did explain the level of his bank account.  

Another Trader doesn’t need convincing that consumers have dried up their spending to previously unheard of levels. He sells umbrellas, and on Saturday, despite extended rain periods, did not sell one.

A Trader has a new name for SBASpring-A-Leak Alley. Thanks for the name-twist Jeff.

A Trader asks if a lower rent could be struck when you’re your aisle has more than 20% absentees. The gaps certainly create a bad impression with customers.

And In our desperate search for positive news we can relate a comment from one happy trader who says that over the last few months he has spent much less on cash register rolls and carry bags – not quite what we had in mind.

The Happiest Trader in the Market Award goes to wood burner Mick as he completes his first week in SBA with a permanent display, a new engraving machine, and a roller door. 

Stars Shine At Lord Mayor's Awards

This week's ceremony at Melbourne Town Hall recognised the contribution to our great city by small business including these equally great QVM Traders.

As a previous award winner
Bruce Pham was a guest at
the evening


More Than A Market

In the cold hard world of business we need to remain logical, considered, and not let emotion get in the way of good decisions. But sometimes that is hard, and two conversations at QVM this week highlighted that dilemma.

First was the Trader who became teary talking about the immense frustration of trying to get some changes at their stall and the barriers that were being put in their way. Tears are reluctantly shown around our market (tired kids excluded) and this was a Trader desperate to get the very best for their business and to showcase their offer in the best possible way.

The second conversation was quite different. This Trader has long been planning retirement and ensuring that their children took up the reigns of running the stall. They have slowly managed the transition and everything was going to plan, except for one thing - working at QVM is far more enjoyable than retirement. Their problem now is to maintain contact with the market they love and not get in the way of their kids.

QVM is not just a market. For many of its Traders it is an immensely important prime business activity and an integral part of their lifestyle. It is more than buying, selling, and merchandising. It is more than profit and loss. There are many reasons why this is a special place to work.  The enjoyment of running your own business, the striving for excellence, and the unique social bonds you form in a market are all part of the package.

Take out the emotion? Good luck with that.

What's Next At QVM?

With two very worthwhile projects under the QVM belt, (completing String Bean Alley and transforming Queen St.), maybe it is time for the next big thing - curating the Upper Market.

In June 2017 we published an article “Is It Time We Curated Our Market?” and 2 years later all that has really changed is the frustration of traders as gaps grow and our look deteriorates. Every trader has been quizzed by customers on the look of the market, but what really hurts is when experienced outside retailers ask “What is going on here?” The look of our market is a serious issue.

Of course it is not just the gaps around our market, but the exposing of infrastructure like storage boxes and racking that were never really intended for public display. The backside of our market is usually not very pretty.

Fixing the gaps is no easy matter. We already have a shifting trader population and short term absences only have to be notified the day before. It is difficult to plan for those. There are many uncertainties and maybe there will need to be more predictability if gaps are to be avoided. Or, as one trader suggested, just make the trading area smaller, rope off unused areas, and let the laws of supply and demand create the fully populated market.

Many traders believe that the look of our market is unacceptable on too many trading days. We suspect that the climate is ripe for considering all options for improving our public face. It will require significant effort, resources, and co-operation but somehow the gaps need to be fixed, and quickly.

Latest Retail News – 30/6/2019

Latest Retail News – 30/6/2019
1. Reserve Bank says retail suffering more than any other industry in Australia.
2. A French online marketplace for buying and selling pre-owned luxury fashion gets S65m funding.
3. Amazon expected to take lead in UK’s cooking & baking market from Sainsbury.
4. ROPO (research online, purchase offline) is latest retail buzzword.
5. Some retailers blaming poor sales on plastic bag ban.
6. Woolworths expands its checkout free, Scan&Go, trial to more stores.
7. Amatil develops Australia’s first 100% recycled plastic drink bottle.
8. Monash survey says 92% of Australian consumers believe sustainable business practices are now expected.
9. H&M focuses more on online investment.

QVM In The News - 30/6/2019

A woman has died in hospital after being struck by a truck turning a corner in West Melbourne near the Queen Victoria Market. The woman, who is yet ...
The couple has been in business together for 45 years and their iconic stall has become an institution at the Queen Victoria Market (QVM). And with ...
Open-air markets provide a vastly different shopping experience from ... Located in the Australian city of Melbourne, Queen Victoria Market is the ...

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 23/6/2019

Precision Parking - during the week a steel ramp was placed across the entrance to Michael Mallon’s stall and we asked him how he got his car in to his stall without damaging the ramp. It might not be quite clear in the photo but the ramp is significantly elevated and can't be driven over. Here is Michael's explanation. “I drove at considerable speed down the aisle, and at just the right moment pulled on the handbrake and swung the wheel rally driver style. The subsequent spin, with a gentle launch off the edge of the ramp, landed me perfectly in the stall. It was all just one fluid movement. It might be a little harder getting out.” We can’t wait to see the CCTV and of course we don’t doubt his story.

The SBA roller coaster - many of the newcomers to String Bean Alley have a whole new appreciation of open air markets with this weekend’s variable weather. Moving stock out of the rain, protecting against wind-blown moisture, all while presenting products as well as possible for those customers prepared to venture up the alley between rain showers - a constantly changing environment and one which traders out in Queen St. have put up with for years.

Theories abound amongst traders about the reasons for low business levels at the moment but maybe the most accurate refers to exceedingly low consumer sentiment. A Trader pointed out that the last time this happened (the 2008 GFC), Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, gave everybody $1000 or so, and we spent our way out of a problem. It was a brilliant strategy and one that current PM, Scott Morrison, could perhaps emulate.

A good crowd turned out for the Night Market this week although not everybody was happy with observations that a younger (and poorer) demographic seemed to dominate.

A couple of traders in the Upper Market reported “donuts” on Friday and they weren’t the edible variety. (For the uninitiated a “donut” is a nil sales day - a big fat zero)

A trader said he was visited by a tour this week. It was a QVM tour and the guide introduced the Trader and asked him to explain his product to the group. The Trader has been visited by tours before but it surprised him that this one was all locals. And to complete the tale, a few returned later and purchased. Love those good news stories.

Jumping to conclusions - a Trader said he was impressed with the Truffle Festival up in A Shed this weekend but felt it was unfair competition for the cafe at the top of A Shed. It turns out the reverse was true and the big crowd caused a spike in nearby trade. As our photo shows that was a serious crowd.

A Trader who doesn’t sell food is wondering if you can buy truffle infused carry bags - anything to get truffles at his stall.

Another Trader suggested that if we can get a key festival in A Shed every weekend, get String Bean Alley up and firing, and add a few attractions in between, we might just have the answer to recovery in the Upper Market.

No rescue day! - a Trader commented that even on the quietest weeks you usually get a “rescue day”, a day when takings are higher than normal and a day that revives your business expectations. He didn’t get one this week and figures it must be coming up next week.

Sound Structure At QVM

You might wonder what this contraption at the top end of RK/RL Sheds does. It is a suspended light and sound structure which has become a distinctive feature of the Night Market. Music composed just for the Night Market emanates from the structure with a variation in sound and vibration similar to what you would get in a Dolby sound movie theatre. The music drifts in and out during the night and seems to get a good response - a nice alternative to loud block out music.

And this is how it looks in operation, and yes, it would be nice to hear it, so maybe a trip to the Night Market is in order.

Articles Worth A Read – 23/6/2019

A growing number of Australian businesses are struggling in economic downturn and retailers are on watch.

Latest Retail News – 23/6/2019

Latest Retail News – 23/6/2019
1. Cotton On launches online in India.
2. Woolworths gives online shoppers a tech gift allowing voice activated shopping lists.
3. Coles new strategy focus on sustainability.
4. French fashion house, Chanel, says it is not for sale.
5. More than half online shoppers prefer good price to good quality.
6. Victorian State Government to legislate ban on single use plastic bags.
7. 63% of shoppers prefer bricks’n’mortar shopping.
8. Activewear retailer, Lululemon, quietly closes its men only stores.
9. Plant based chicken substitute coming to Australia.
10. Tesco thinking about up-market convenience store.
11. BP now delivers food and drink from its convenience stores via Uber.
12. NZ retailer introduces edible coffee cups.

Two Business Stories Involving Retail

In the struggling world of investment funds a Sydney based hedge fund has outclassed its rivals with a couple of stunning share market bets and one of them involved retail. Their investment in a buy now/pay later company called Zip has produced very strong returns – “Services like Zip, which allow people to buy goods and pay for them in instalments, are benefiting from the shopping habits of young people, many of whom don't have credit cards, and the growing popularity of online shopping.”

And in the second news story, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have been joined by a third billionaire in the worlds most exclusive wealth club. Bernard Arnault heads LVMH which owns the likes of Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon and Dior.

QVM In The News - 23/6/2019

While Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne market have already imposed plastic bans, Gary Zoabi, manager of Preston market, said he had ...
... by Victoria Police including Federation Square, Southbank Boulevard, Southern Cross Station, State Library of Victoria, Queen Victoria Market and ...
Don't miss the Winter Night Market at Queen Victoria Market for its street food, mulled wine, local entertainment and Christmas-themed gifts.
This weekend, the largest weekend truffle festival held outside Europe returns to the Queen Victoria Market to demystify this most mysterious of ...
Queen Victoria Market to South Melbourne Market Bike Ride
Hire a blue bike and take a foodie tour of two iconic Melbourne markets. Browse Queen Victoria Market and then ride through the CBD to South ...