Sunday 24 February 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 24/2/2019

A trader has asked with all this talk about trading hours has anyone thought about trader parking? If a precinct commences trade later than another, do they miss out on parking vouchers? A minor point but with rising costs and diminishing returns, every expense is relevant.

A customer asked one of our traders why we don’t have seating under the sheds? Seating is available in food areas, and on the periphery of the market, but what if you want a rest break walking our aisles?

A good news story – Security Guard, Charlie, found a credit card and ID for a Chilean student while he was doing his morning rounds on Saturday. They were left at an ATM in String Bean Alley. Charlie showed the ID to a couple of neighbouring traders in case the student returned. Sure enough, a young man was noticed about half an hour later sitting despondently near the ATM with his mobile phone in hand. He was asked if he needed any help but he declined saying everything was OK. A trader persisted and asked if he had lost a credit card and ID. He said “Yes”, and that he was just about to cancel his credit card. A delighted visitor to our market was directed to F1 where Charlie had left the cards. We think QVM will be in this young man’s good books for some time.

Tony Abdelnour retired from trading in leather belts at our market some 5 years ago. He misses the buzz of market trading and the enjoyment of running his own business, but he was delighted to see that his image still adorns the market frontage to the customer carpark. See photo.

A trader returned from an extended overseas holiday this week with destinations from NZ to Dubai. She made a practise of asking shopkeepers about business and says that the response was consistent around the world. When she identified herself as a retailer every shopkeeper confirmed that business was very, very tough.

Apologies for repeating this news, but once again traders are asking when are we going to curate our market and remove the blank spaces? We can confirm that consolidation is receiving active attention from management.

And one of our casual traders is complaining about blank spaces but for different reasons. He says the over-supply of great trading places, especially corners, is making it too hard to choose his spot for the day. It is doing his head in.

A customer commented that he and his wife had walked up from Flinders Street station late Saturday morning and thought the city was very quiet until they reached QVM and the buzz started. In his opinion we had a significantly larger crowd than the rest of the city.

The news of bollards being used to close aisles from 8:00am in the Upper Market each day appears to have been greeted with a nod and acceptance that this is good for safety and security. Any other views out there?

What’s In A Name?

General Merchandise as a category or precinct name has a chequered history and has sparked many debates.

Some years ago a group of traders in the Upper Market got sick of the “General” term claiming it was derogatory to their category because in fact many considered themselves specialists in specific products. In other words, not General Traders, but Specialty traders.

So the term “Specialty Merchandise” was developed as a substitute for General Merchandise and it has been championed by Victraders for some time. The theory is that most traders in the Upper Market specialise in a particular product or range of products. Most are experts in their field and can offer specialised advice to their customers. So the term “Special” is appropriate whether we are talking about the product or the knowledge of the trader. The same applies in our food areas.

The term Specialty Merchandise or Specialty Traders, has filtered into common usage and can be found in some high level documents relating to QVM planning and renewal. Yet, when the question was raised at the TRC last year they opted to retain the use of “General Merchandise”. Some would say that was consistent with the TRC’s reputation for resisting change in our market.

And just when you thought you had a handle on this there is another name proposal. Why not just call the Specialty Traders “Retail”, and the others “Food”. Yes, technically food (at least at QVM)  is retail, but a publicly released QVM document from 2015 made the distinction between Food and Retail which seemed to make sense. It probably depends on who you are aiming your story at. The public may accept Food and Retail as sensible differentiations but within our market walls we may seek more definition.

What’s In a name? Well obviously in this case it is a confusion of identities that sparks much debate. If you want to add to the debate, particularly if you have a solution, we would love to hear from you.

Have Your Say – click here.

Footnote: Here is how Wikipedia describes a Specialty Store -
A speciality (AE: specialty) store has a narrow marketing focus  – either specializing on specific merchandise, such as toys, footwear, or clothing, or on a target audience, such as children, tourists, or plus-size women. Size of store varies  – some speciality stores might be retail giants such as Toys "R" Us, Foot Locker, and The Body Shop, while others might be small, individual shops such as Nutters of Savile Row.[158] Such stores, regardless of size, tend to have a greater depth of the specialist stock than general stores, and generally offer specialist product knowledge valued by the consumer. Pricing is usually not the priority when consumers are deciding upon a speciality store; factors such as branding image, selection choice, and purchasing assistance are seen as important. They differ from department stores and supermarkets which carry a wide range of merchandise.

Retailing Has Always Been About Change

Retailers for centuries have found ways of accommodating the wishes of consumers and the same thing is still happening with a twist or two to allow for progress. But, in essence things haven’t changed a lot.

When market towns and fairs became popular in medieval times there were no cars to hop into for a quick shopping trip and many consumers simply did not have access to goods. The need for convenience was answered by pedlars who visited consumer’s with a variety of produce and hard goods. The goods came to the consumer. To get the convenience factor into perspective, fairs were held twice a year while pedlars might visit monthly.

Fast forward to today and the restrictions of modern traffic and busy lifestyles means that pre-shopping or actual shopping online adds a level of convenience and has changed the way consumers shop. The essence remains - find a way to meet consumer’s needs.

During the 16th Century in Vicenza, Italy, the established cheesemongers had a lucrative trade selling through their established “shops”. Direct sellers started to buy cheese from surrounding producers and undercutting prices at the local market. Retail disruption was alive and well 5 centuries ago and consumers knew a good deal when they saw it.

When a London Draper attempted to add meat and vegetables to his drapery store he caused an uproar, but the department stores that evolved from that sort of disruption have prospered for over 150 years. Now department stores might be the targets of retail change themselves as consumers find more convenient ways to do their shopping.

There are many other examples of retail change - mail order catalogues, shopping centres (there are examples of 4 story shopping “forums” in Roman times), party plan (not unlike pedlars of old), supermarkets (constantly promoting their market roots), and of course online with all its features like global delivery, click’n’collect, and so on.

So, new retailing has many similarities with old retailing. But thinking the current way of doing business can go on forever is simply not supported by history. Retailing will change in lots of different ways but the basics remain the same. There is only one master in our industry, the consumer, and chasing the best way to get their business will always encourage disruption and change

True Grit At QVM

This article is not about some fictional western movie. It is about the real thing - dirt & dust.

Ok, there are more serious issues for our market like wish-washy  consumer demand (look that up in your business dictionary) but grimy dirt and dust is an issue for open air markets and some of our traders might need strategies.

Presenting your stock in pristine condition is important and there are signs if something is not right in your stock presentation. When a customer handles one of your items and then wipes their hands, there may be an issue. When they rub their fingers together and inspect for dirt, it is a dead giveaway.

Ironically, set-up and pack-down stalls already have a great strategy. The simple action of handling every stock item during the set-up/pack-down process usually keeps it dust free, and that is a plus. More permanent locations like Victoria Street, F Shed and String Bean Alley shops, with exposure to the street, are havens for dust, and that is not good for business.

So what are the techniques for avoiding dust and dirt? You could simply move the dust and dirt on with a duster or a blower. Blowers are great, because they get the job done in seconds and many of us love the power of noise and force from a blower (ok it is probably a macho thing). We have seen traders use old fashioned feather dusters, more modern “static lint” dusters, and even baby wipes to keep things clean. One trader says he doesn’t have a problem with dust - his wife does the cleaning (sigh!).

But vacuuming makes a lot of sense. You clean and remove the offending dust, and with a regular cleaning schedule, your stall/shop and your stock should be free from contamination. In these difficult times we don’t want to give our customers any excuse to move on. Of course the perfect strategy is to sell everything so quickly that there isn’t time for dust to settle, but that is the subject for another article.

In the meantime, regular checks on the accumulation of dust in your display is just another joy of trading in an open air market.

Articles Worth A Read - 24/2/2019

What traders are missing out on - an article about the average Australian wage -

An interesting discussion about the "decoy effect" in pricing goods -

How to handle tough times - this article is a little out of left field but you will find some interesting observations including the claim that successful people are a little delusional.

How to beat the morning dread - only for those who wake up fearing what the day will bring -

Walmart's strong Christmas proves the worth of physical stores -

Sunday 17 February 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 17/2/2019

A larger lady asked a trader what material his hat was made of. He said “leather”. She said “If that is leather, I’m a ballerina”. His hat was, and she wasn’t.

A trader commented that the invitation for traders in last week's Heard Under The Sheds to participate in a joint purchase of printed paper carry bags was great for a number of reasons. But the significant one for him was showing that traders can work together for the common good. Michael is the trader doing the liaison with the manufacturer and he makes nothing out of the deal. If you want to get a good rate on recyclable printed paper bags direct from China, call Michael on 0411700727 or email

Another trader tells us he has taken up the suggestion to buy plain paper carry bags from O’Kelly in Dandenong and is paying around 41.5 cents plus GST for large carry bags with a twist handle and around 24 cents plus GST for medium size bags (355*240*120mm).

According to one trader there is a positive to the really quiet trading days at the moment. He has found that on some days he doesn’t have to count the cash because he can remember every sale. Hmm… not so positive.

Thanks to the trader who sent us this photo of heritage inspection works on our sheds getting underway during the week.

A trader said he was amazed at how much impact a few buses of tourists up on Peel St. can have on market sales. Apparently this occurred on Thursday.

A customer praised the service from some of our traders last week. He mentioned Leo giving him great advice on a cigarette lighter, Tim helping him out with repairs to a silver chain and Alex making him a special belt. A big tick to all those traders from a happy customer who obviously spent a bit of money at our market.

A rain free Wednesday night apparently helped improved sales at the Night Market this week.

February is often a time for reflection by traders and we hear a number of stories including a possible move overseas for one trader, the sale of one of our clothing businesses, and a couple of long term traders seriously considering their future at QVM.

Have Your Say – click here.

Latest Retail News – 17/02/2019

Latest Retail News – 17/02/2019
1. H&M says profit decline due investments in online.
2. Administrators of Napoleon Perdis say 27 stores “unnecessary”.
3. Online retail sales dip in December after strong November.
4. Australian wine sales exceeded production in 2018.
5. December retail sales failed to meet expectations.
6. Nick Scali reports record half year profit.
7. US retail sales expected slower in 2019.
8. Amazon patents parcel delivery via public bus and train.
9. J.C.Penney to exit home appliance business.
10. US supermarket giant, Kroger, increases its range of 15 minute meals.
11. David Jones CEO resigns.
12. Menswear retailer, Ed Harry, to close for good.
13. JB HiFi profit up 5.5% in first half
14. Low business and consumer confidence expected to get worse.
15. Victoria looks to eradicate use of plastic bags by end 2019.
16. Nestle introduces Starbucks range for home consumption.
17. Baby Bunting lifts sales.

How To Get A Container In String Bean Alley

The extra 12 containers for String Bean Alley have been eagerly awaited and EOIs (Expressions of Interest) are now open.

A number of traders have already expressed interest in getting a roller door although the competition will be tough particularly as the opportunity to participate has been spread beyond current market traders. The new trading places in SBA have been advertised broadly on social media.

Perhaps the best advice to traders is to carefully read the Trader Information Pack (click to access). The overarching vision for String Bean Alley is for a community of stallholders that will provide products and services that:
• Are locally designed, sourced and produced;
• Are customised, bespoke and/or personalised elements to the product offer or service;
• Are a specialist range with a stand out point of difference; and
• Have an interesting story behind the product, brand and/or service.

The Trader Information Pack goes into more detail about what those ingredients mean and ticking as many boxes as possible will assist your application. Remember to think outside the square. If you can come up with something special, something that is likely to excite customers, and add a new element to QVM’s overall offer, you increase your chances of success.

It may also be a good idea to talk to current SBA Traders, check out the current container facilities, and actually draw up plans of how things might look in your proposal. SBA Trader Greg Smith can be contacted in Container 2 or on 0406222020 if you need trader assistance.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 10/2/2019

A rather distressed customer told a trader that her first visit to QVM had been spoilt by ill-mannered or disinterested traders. She couldn’t work out why she had received such dismissive behaviour. Fortunately the trader telling us the story had shown genuine concern for her plight and explained that sometimes traders are distracted by other things (like really poor trading). The customer left with at least one trader showing understanding and giving the customer the attention and consideration that every customer deserves.

On a similar vein, a trader tells the story of a customer who acted a little strangely as he entered his stall. He was one of those outspoken customers who likes to make a scene, dresses a little eccentrically, and made some pretty outlandish claims about the important things he has done in life. He selected 4 of this trader’s more expensive items and asked if they could be packed while he went off to look at some neighbouring stalls. The trader didn’t expect to see him again but packed the goods anyway. Half an hour later the customer returned, apologised for the delay while he found an ATM, and handed over cash for the goods. Our trader was left happy and a little ashamed that he had jumped to conclusions about this customer’s intent. You can never tell.

This is a picture of a horse. Not just any horse because it travels greater distances around our market in a day than almost any other person or animal (or toy). The horse is attached to Guru Pete’s cleaning trolley and Pete believes it has been there for more than 15, and possibly 20, years. It was a gift from Kevin & Annette who used to sell soft toys in the market. Kevin and Annette still visit the market regularly for their food shopping.

Trader Co-op. With all this emphasis on recyclable packaging, one of our traders has come up with a bulk buying option for printed paper carry bags direct from China. By dealing direct with a Chinese manufacturer, and combining multiple orders, he is able to minimise freight costs and keep the overall cost down. Michael already has a number of traders interested and if you would like to join this co-operative effort, give him a call on 0411700727 or email . Michael used to be in the packaging business so he knows his stuff.

Bigass– no, we are not being derogatory. This is one of the brand names for huge industrial fans that may be very useful under our super hot tin roofs. A trader sent us this photo of a giant fan at a local basketball pavilion. He said the cooling effect was quite impressive.

A trader says she is amazed at the number of overseas customers who return to our market. One of her lines is a key tourist product and customers from US or Europe return to her stall on each visit which may be yearly or every few years. It is great that she gets repeat business and of course great that these customers keep QVM on their list of must visit places.

No Taj Mahal, but the improvements to the toilet block at the top of String Bean Alley got a few thumbs up this week. A good clean-up, a coat of paint and replacing a few fittings has certainly improved the appearance.

Marketing Slogan - A Trader Suggestion

Given the impersonal nature of much of today's retailing, this slogan came up in discussion amongst traders. Together with the photo we think it has merit.

Shopping Is Personal At QVM

Changing Retail

Here are a few stories that illustrate the dramatic changes going on in retail right now and there may be some pointers for QVM traders.

Self Driving Grocery Shops - With this new Boston service a robo delivery van pulls up outside your door , you unlock the doors with a pre-arranged code and you choose your groceries. We are mainly thinking essentials here like bread, milk, eggs, fresh vegetables and fruit.

Trader Joes End Grocery Deliveries – yes, this is a non-change because US grocery chain, Trader Joes, has decided to end its grocery delivery service in New York, citing high costs and economical alternatives as key reasons. Trader Joes introduced their delivery service when they had just one Manhattan store. Now they have seven so customers are better serviced and they have many alternative independent delivery services to use.

Ikea Moves Into Abandoned High Street Shops in London, Paris & New York – as furniture retailers and others move out of high streets, Ikea is taking up the space for a magical furniture display, where there are no tills, and no sales made, except those made on line.

Some Product Categories Are Purchased In Big Quantities Online But Not Food – Why?

QVM In The News - 10/2/2019

As customers jostle and shop owners holler on a busy Sunday at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Davide Alberti is up to his elbows in dirty trays ...
The $3m cost of council's failed bid to redevelop Queen Victoria Market ... failed bid to push through its redevelopment of Queen Victoria Market.

Sunday 3 February 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 3/2/2019

String Bean Alley reassessment. Now that 12 additional containers are coming to SBA we can expect a reassessment of rents and trading hours. Five day trading is on the cards and new rents will reflect that. Apparently discussions have started with current SBA traders and Expressions Of Interest for new containers are expected to follow.

Ups and downs of trading - some record breaking stories have come out this week, although they are usually the sort of records you don’t want to break. But with a positive spin, two traders have reported that their sales on super hot Sunday had exceeded their Night Market sales before lunchtime. Another had almost reached his total takings for Thursday, Friday, Saturday before noon on Sunday.

A few traders are pleased to see the follow through on complaints about the temporary toilets at the top of SBA. This week’s trader bulletin noted that works are to commence on the block from Monday 4th February.

Graffiti - after the nightclub on Queen St. closed the graffiti count around our market dropped but recently it has shown a resurgence with two instances appearing overnight Saturday. Guru Pete has had to call in the specialists. Graffiti is a bit beyond bucket and mop.

A trader has noticed that the weather station in K Shed has disappeared. The equipment was to record weather variations in K Shed as part of a study of trader/customer comfort levels. He suggested that perhaps it had melted away.

Traders getting together – a trader has suggested that once String Bean Alley is complete, it would be a good opportunity for tenants to get together and start creating some marketing impetus of their own.

Consolidation of stalls – apparently management are seriously looking at the issue (see “Its Time” article ) but rather than wholesale changes to our aisles they are looking at vacant areas such as in A Shed and C Shed that might be roped off for other purposes.

A couple of traders have expressed concern about the current pressures on traders. With January/February takings apparently reaching an all time low, some traders may be entering a danger zone of monetary and emotional stress. Maybe a good time to ask “Are You OK?” There are options for traders including consulting with Small Business Mentors - Call or email Katya at the Trader Lounge to discuss further, via 1300 631 171 or

Articles Worth A Read - 3/2/2019

This business buys from department stores and sells through Amazon

Challenging practices based on old standards

Physical retailing will not die

Latest Retail News – 3/2/2019

Latest Retail News – 3/2/2019
1. The gap between Coles and Woolworths narrows as Coles gathers pace.
2. Sportswear company, Skins, files for bankruptcy.
3. Chinese tourists spend more on retail shopping than any other travel expense.
4. Kogan share price up after strong Christmas.
5. Vicinity Centres property portfolio lost value over recent 6 month revue although Chadstone and DFO’s up.
6. Myer could lose Nike concessions.
7. Amazon planning its own delivery network.
8. Coles trials Uber Eats meal delivery service.
9. Food is the new fashion in Gold Coast Shopping Centres.
10. Chinese retail activity expected to exceed that of the US by end of year.
11. Walmart withdraws from Google Shopping Service.
12. Online furniture and homewares retailer, Temple & Webster, posts first profit.
13. Luxury retailer, LVMH, reports 21% jump in profit.
14. Insect food products expected in Australian supermarkets this year.
15. Napoleon Perdis blames landlords, banks, and online retailing for collapse of his cosmetics empire.

This Night Market Shot Is Revealing

The photo above was taken from a very popular spot in String Bean Alley during this Wednesday's Night Market. 
The rain induced reflections added a new dimension to the shot as does the eerie glow behind the tall buildings. That was caused by lightning strikes near the city.

The photo tells us something else because normally crowds would block the reflections on the ground but this was a small crowd and it showed in trader's takings. A rather severe rain storm on the cusp of opening (5pm) and the first week of kids back to school probably had something to do with that.