Sunday, 31 March 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 31/3/2019



Renewal Proposal - There has been plenty of discussion under the sheds about the new renewal proposal with hardly any complaint about most of the infrastructure components - more and better storage, updated waste disposal, management offices onsite, and so on. But car parking - can there ever be enough? (See separate article on trader parking).

Buses - Thursday this week apparently produced good business for some in the Upper Market and the presence of tourist buses up on Peel St. was cited as a reason. One trader said “Can someone please push the bus button every trading day.”

Car parking - with the news that Coles are taking up with eBay so they can use their delivery infrastructure, one trader is suggesting that we should find a way to offer free or subsidised delivery to our customers. “We certainly wouldn’t need as many car parks and it would remove many of the reasons for a customer saying no to a purchase.” 

A couple of traders commented on a new stall selling cotton shopping bags. The bags have  colourful prints depicting Melbourne and Australian icons including our own pallet tree. “It is nice to see fresh new products adding to the mix.”

A trader is asking when are the QVM cleaning contractors are going to supply paper rubbish bags in line with our sustainability policy.

A tourist customer commented that when he walked into a stall it was cold wet and windy, but when he walked out there was sunshine with a nice warm breeze. “Welcome to Melbourne mate!”

Queen St. traders are nearing a deadline to make way for seating and landscaping adjacent to the sheds. According to one trader there may be strong resistance.


Latest Retail News – 31/3/2019


1. Big W may need to close 60 stores according to Macquarie Report.
2. Just Water in recyclable Tetra-Paks launched in Australia.
3. New 93 stall fresh food market given approval in Point Cook.
4. Union concerned at sexual harassment in retail.
5. Renting expensive clothes may disrupt clothing industry.
6. Deloitte forecasts retail turnover will fall in 2019.
7. Bunnings planning full online offer.
8. Coles adds everyday essentials to Uber Eats.
9. Myer axes 50 management staff.
10. Pandora told to fix refund policies.
11. Debenham refinancing could hurt investors.
12. Coles signs deal that will double home delivery capacity.
13. Kraft looks to sell Australian coffee brand Cerebos.
14. QVM launches new advertising campaign.
15. US moves to ban cashless stores.

Happiness And Avoiding Burnout

For some reason a number of articles have crossed our desk this week concerning happiness in small business and the risk of burnout.

Maybe the stresses of business, particularly retail, are being felt generally right now, but whatever the reason we felt each of the following articles might be worth a look for you or someone you know.

Avoiding burnout using a Bill Gates strategyhttps://www.inc.com/julian-hayes-ii/if-you-want-to-avoid-burnout-adopt-this-simple-habit-from-28-year-old-bill-gates.html

Some tips from Yale's most popular class ever (Spoiler- some Specialty Merchandise Traders will not like some of these techniques)  https://www.businessinsider.com.au/im-taking-yales-class-on-happiness-already-working-2019-3?r=US&IR=T

Happiness is a choicehttps://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/why-you-actually-can-choose-to-be-happy.html

The Missing Piece Of The Trader Storage Survey.


Much has been made of the survey conducted to establish trader storage needs. The results of the survey have guided aspects of the latest renewal proposal which will be put to Council on Tuesday. But it was what the survey didn’t ask that is now causing concern.

Traders were effectively asked what their storage needs were. They were asked to list their box storage, dry goods and refrigerated needs and predict future needs. That is fine but they were not asked about their vehicle storage needs. (Note: We understand there was an option for “Other” storage but few traders would have associated that with vehicle storage. Perhaps it could have been made clearer.) Vehicle storage may mean simply parking a vehicle after it has been used to replenish stock held at an outside location (often home). Or some traders may use a vehicle as a store of goods during the trading day either on the stall or nearby.

For many traders none of this will be an issue. Traders in fixed locations or with regular delivery arrangements may not have a legitimate need for a stock vehicle. But if a trader legitimately uses a vehicle to regularly deliver stock (perhaps to simply replace the previous day’s sales) then there is a vehicle storage issue.

According to some attendees at Thursday’s meeting presentation it was suggested that the market would becomes a vehicle free zone - trader’s vehicles would be parked elsewhere, away from the market. It should be noted that while we understand the long term aim of QVM will be to remove vehicles from trading areas,  this not a short term or even medium term priority. Clearly there will be time for QVM to work through issues and find workable solutions for traders.

 And getting back to storage of the actual vehicle - parking in Melbourne is a very expensive exercise. Traders currently use free parking at the back of the open sheds, discounted voucher parking in the main car park, and some low cost street or multi-level car parking at discounted prices on the weekend. Even $10 or $15 per day parking becomes a significant cost impost over a week.

The public is encouraged to use public transport for their shopping needs but traders generally don’t have that option. Many traders with small trading areas and set up/pack up arrangements require regular daily top-ups and easy access. A vehicle is an essential delivery tool for many traders and those vehicles require easy access parking. 

There will be more to consider on this matter as we move forward.


Thursday, 28 March 2019

QVM In The News - 28/3/2019


A new public space larger than Federation Square would replace the open-air carpark at Queen Victoria Market under the latest proposed ...
A mixed-use development worth nearly $1 billion forms a financial linchpin in the City of Melbourne's latest effort to rejuvenate the popular but ageing ...
Cr Capp said there was a “live situation at the moment at our beloved Queen Victoria Market” where instead of a reduction in car parking spaces the ...

New Proposal For QVM Infrastructure



A new plan for QVM infrastructure and car parking is to be put to Council for decision next Tuesday. This plan follows the rejection of an initial proposal involving underground facilities at ABCD sheds. A 40 member People's Panel recently made recommendations on market infrastructure and car parking. 

A media release and accompanying video was put out today and the essential elements are as follows -

- $6 million will be invested to create cool and dry storage at fruit and vegetable trader’s stalls. There will be extensive consultation with traders to get the designs right and consultation with Heritage Victoria.  
- A $19 million investment to provide up to 500 customer car parks on a future Southern Development Site on Franklin Street.
- Another 500 customer car parks already being delivered as part of the Munro development in 2021.
- The existing asphalt carpark will become a 1.5 hectare public open space called Market Square, larger than Fed Square.
- Further design and costings to consider storage and waste facilities in Queen Street with new “Operations Hubs”. An accompanying video shows one hub to be located at the Southern end of Queen St., one at the Northern end, and one at G Shed. The hub at the Southern end is designated as “Queen’s Corner”.
- On-site restoration of current sheds.
- Therry St., Queen St., and the current car park designated as public spaces.



Sunday, 24 March 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 24/3/2019



Caricaturist’s license suspended- when we asked Ivano if we could announce his departure from QVM he said on condition that we used this provocative heading. In fact Ivano is taking a European sabbatical, getting  back to some of the environments where he first started caricaturing and incidentally where he used to be offered rent free spots at markets because of the uniqueness he brought to the mix. We will miss the “professor” and his educated perspective on market matters. We are already looking forward to his return and wish him all the best.

No spare seats here - E Shed Food Court Sunday 24th March 2pm
“You can lead a horse to water, but........” -  one trader’s response to Sunday’s crowd in the Upper Market. There were plenty of people, queues at many food outlets, and a variety of tourists.  For some traders the buzz did not translate to sales, for others it was OK and in these tough times OK is most welcome.

Customers reported a big crowd down at the Food & Wine Festival on Southbank over the weekend.

A positive forecast from one trader who says the racing cars have gone, the AFL jumpers are out, and now we can expect a build in sales towards Easter.

RMIT marketing student liaisons with traders have started and expectations are high that linking high tech students with usually low tech traders might just get some interesting results. This is all part of a program run by the Small Business Mentors.

A trader remarked that Night Market trading is great but it is very nice to have a two week break. (The Summer Night Market season finished this Wednesday.) He is expecting to look a little more presentable on a Thursday morning, at least for two weeks. The Europa Night Market re-commences on 10th April.

A trader from the Upper Market who relies on locals tells us that most days he could go home at noon without much impact on sales. His customers generally do morning shopping for food and visit him on their way out. His neighbour on the other hand relies on tourists and he expects more consistent sales throughout the day often with a rush at the end.

One trader’s sales philosophy - “Know when to step in, know when to step back, read their mood, don’t push, but always be helpful, and when they can’t decide say “Don’t worry, I’ll be here next time you come in.”” He adds, “usually they do come back.”

A trader is impressed by the number of traders handing out recyclable paper carry bags. He was initially concerned by the higher cost of paper but says customers will often refuse a paper bag and choose to use the bags they already have. He didn't experience that refusal when using plastic bags.


Have Your Say - click here.

Lord Mayors Commendations Back For 2019

Lord mayor Sally Capp will oversee the 2019 small business commendations program with a fresh new identity and streamlined application process. The program has acknowledged many market traders over the years and maybe this is the year for you. Details as follows - 

"Melbourne is fortunate to call itself home to a diverse range of independent small businesses who contribute to the economic prosperity and vibrancy of the city. Established in 2005, the Lord Mayor’s Commendations program recognises the longevity and commitment of these hidden gems and well-loved characters,without which Melbourne wouldn’t be the same.

This year the program is back with a fresh new identity and streamlined application process, making it easy for your business to get celebrated. It is free to apply and open to small business proprietors who have been operating in the City of Melbourne for ten or more years. Each successful applicant will be invited to an exclusive event hosted by the Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.

Other benefits include:
• Promotional opportunities via City of Melbourne marketing channels
• Inclusion in a photographic exhibition
• Networking opportunities
• Insight into a range of small business initiatives and support programs
• Membership of a growing alumni of commendation recipients

Our categories are: 10+, 25+, 40+ and 50+ years of operation, as well as a 3+ generations Generational Family Business Commendation. Past recipients are welcome to reapply if they are eligible for a new category.

We look forward to receiving your application and giving your business the recognition it deserves.

Apply Now

Applications close: 26 April, 2019

You can contact the Lord Mayor’s Commendations team at lmcommendations@melbourne.vic.gov.au "

Some Past Trader Recipients:

 



Peoples Panel Feedback - Market Infrastructure Options

Options related to the People’s Panel Report and the recent trader storage survey will be put to Council early April and traders can get advance notice of the proposal at a special meeting next Thursday 28th March .

The options for market infrastructure follow some great input by traders on the People’s Panel.  Details below -

Info session: Market infrastructure options
An information session will be held for traders on Thursday 28 March at 3 – 4pm to provide an overview of the proposed market infrastructure options being presented to Council following the People’s Panel Report and trader storage survey. The session will be held at the Renewal Office, Munro Warehouse, Rear 128 – 130 Franklin Street (enter via laneway beside the Party Shop on Queen Street).


Competitor Sneaks Up On Trader


Trader Ivano has been seen on these pages in the past but usually it is because another prospective groom has chosen a caricature session at QVM to propose to his partner. Ivano draws the couple with a suitable romantic theme and then the groom-to-be pops the question - all very romantic and exciting.

On this occasion Ivano was doing a caricature of an international visitor who revealed himself as another caricaturist from Brunei. They ended up swapping caricatures and maybe there will be some work for Ivano in Brunei as part of his upcoming sabbatical.

New Workshop Program For Traders


Queen Victoria Market –Grow your Business Program


QVM Grow Your Business is a new program specifically designed to provide REAL hands-on skill development sessions and on-going support through one-on-one mentoring sessions, available to business owners operating a business at Queen Victoria Market and is delivered as part of the Trader Connect Program.

The program provides 5 x 2 hour workshops (held between between 3.30-5.30pm), all tools/templates/workbooks on key topics that are essential to business success.
First Workshop:
Date
Thursday 28th March, 2019 (First Workshop in Series)
Time
3.30pm to 5.30pm
Venue
Queen Victoria Market - Trader Connect Lounge
Address
266 Victoria Street Melbourne, Opposite Queen Victoria Market
Pricing
Free




Workshop schedule:
Grow your Business 1 – Setting Your Compass – Thursday 28 March 2019
Grow your Business 2 – Decide Your Income– Thursday 18 April 2019
Grow your Business 3 – Customer Focused Marketing – Thursday 2 May 2019
Grow your Business 4 – Customer Focused e-Marketing – Thursday 23 May 2019
Grow your Business 5 – Managing for Success – Thursday 6 June 2019
Small group for personalised support

*Participants MUST commit to the FULL program due to limited participant numbers offered
REGISTER HERE –
http://bit.ly/GYBWORKSHOP
or email qvm@sbms.org.au

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 17/3/2019



It would be difficult to find two more competitive traders than Joe & Mino but that didn’t stop them from sharing a comrade moment this week.

While a trader sat watching Opera In The Market recently he caught himself thinking how many customers paying $169 could fit into a standard market stall. And he came to two conclusions - firstly, that he can see why QVM might be interested in running more events under the sheds, and secondly, perhaps he should be taking singing lessons.

Speaking of business opportunities, one of our traders has proposed standing outside the toilets at the top of SBA and charging a small fee to dry the hands of customers because after 10:00am there are never any paper towels left (Not another toilet story - Ed)

There are many wonderful photo opportunities around our market and Ronnie’s van must be one of the most popular. Karl’s American Doughnut Kitchen might just claim top billing in the most photographed category but both are wonderful tourist magnets.

Sticking with Ronnie's van - a trader suggests that Ronnie should invest in a red Ferrari to attach to his van during Grand Prix week.

Forget the Grand Prix - one of our traders is suggesting that we might get more mileage (excuse the pun) out of St. Patrick’s Day than the Grand Prix which seems to drain the Northern end of the city. A Guinness stall in every aisle?

Another trader has a contrary view and says this is the first year he can remember that Grand Prix attendees were clearly evident in his sales tally on GP weekend.

And finally, there have been a few side bets on where Betty Jennings might end up when she makes way for the new containers in String Bean Alley. The shortest odds are on Betty getting just the spot she wants.



Latest Retail News – 17/3/2019


Latest Retail News – 17/3/2019
1. Retail Food Group struggles to stay afloat.
2. Shoes of Prey in liquidation.
3. Senate report says franchising industry needs a shift of power.
4. UBS report says shopping centre visitation decline in Australia the worst in Asia.
5. Build-A-Bear enters voluntary administration.
6. Zara sales growth slows.

Maybe QVM Is At The Cutting Edge of Milennial Attraction


The owner of one of the world's top retail consultancies has predicted that milennials will continue to be attracted to physical shopping although he issues a warning...

"Millennials have lived their whole lives being stimulated by inordinate amounts of media. By comparison, most retail is relatively boring, if we get right down to it. How many times a week do you walk into a store and say, ‘You know, I need to take a selfie of this place?’ Zero."

Well, hang on, we get lots of selfie/store photography at QVM. there are plenty of places where younger shoppers pull out their mobile phones and take a photo.

They do it in our Meat & Fish hall, during Queen St. festivals, at our Night Market, and some key traders like Karl's American Doughnut Kitchen and Ronnie's Fabulous Juice Van are subjected to constant selfie-taking.

Maybe we are more trendy than we realise.

Have Your Say - click here.

Shoes Of Prey In Liquidation


I can remember one of our market shoe sellers listing online newcomer Shoes Of Prey as one of the reasons he was leaving our market but it turns out that Shoes Of Prey didn’t have it right either.

A few years ago Shoes of Prey were the exciting new kids on the block with a revolutionary method of selling shoes to customer specifications from a website. Customers could choose a whole range of options including style and colour from a sophisticated interactive website.

Our market trader trader knew his stuff because he had handmade shoes to customer specifications for many years but he found that customers were no longer prepared to pay his prices for handmade excellence and he couldn’t quite understand how online sellers like Shoes of Prey were doing it.

Shoes of Prey went into liquidation a couple of weeks back, apparently victims of a change in consumer preferences. They claim their big mistake was assuming customers wanted to design their own shoes when in fact they were more impressed by copies of what other people, particularly famous people, were wearing. Instagram and Facebook were determining what people bought, rather than the opportunity to create your own design.

Just when you think retailing has chosen a course, it twists again.


Monday, 11 March 2019

Combining Efforts in String Bean Alley


The criteria for new traders in QVM's String Bean Alley includes a preference for locally produced goods and sometimes producing a product(s) and standing in a container to sell it, creates conflict. It is difficult to be in two places at once.

But maybe producers can combine their locally produced items in a single display and take it in turns to stand at the container for the selling function. You could imagine an interesting display of locally produced goods and an experienced manufacturer to advise customers.

Some sort of strategy would need to be worked out with management and one person would need to sign a license and be responsible for rent payments, but a co-operative model has potential.

If you are a producer interested in String Bean Alley but concerned about the conflict with manufacturing time then perhaps you could get together with like-minded producers and make a submission.
 

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 10/3/2019


A trader has suggested that every trader should have a $300 item in their range. A $300 item will almost certainly attract attention in a traditional market, and if and when it does sell, the impact on sales for the day will obviously be significant. Great advice, but what if you sell socks? - maybe offer a year’s supply?

Are there signs of cracking? If there was a barometer for trader frustration, one trader suggests if may be off the scale right now. Apparently there are reports of anger and even physical altercations over the past week. All sure signs that trade is really tough at the moment.

A customer rocked up to a trader and asked if he could use his stall for a wedding photo shoot that day. Given the disruption that a photo shoot could cause the trader suggested that they would need to ring him for a booking.

A few traders are asking if it is really necessary to have bollards installed on the internal walkways of the Upper Market on Fridays and weekends. With bollards controlling vehicular movement at the top and bottom of each aisle, aren’t the inner bollards just an unnecessary obstacle for pedestrian customers?

From one trader on Sunday - “Such great potential from the weekend’s crowds. If only we could push the button on consumer spending at the same time.”

Trader, Xenia Charalambous (Sonia), has decided to pull down the curtain on her time at QVM. Xenia had few peers in the field of customer service at QVM and her booming laughter could be heard aisles away. Xenia suffered a stroke in 2016 which prevented her from working at the market, and her daughters have been ably carrying on the business. We wish Xenia, Noni, Helen and the team every success for the future. - Kali tychi.


Opera in the market – as reported last week, a number of traders attended this event on Monday and gave it a big thumbs-up. We may tend to take our magnificent old sheds for granted but given the right lighting, the right sound, and the right occasion, they can really add atmosphere. 

Have Your Say - click here.

Myer Recovery?


Myer has reported an increase in profit but on lower sales which begs the question - have they simply given themselves more time to find a solution to department store decline?

Net profit is up 3.1% while total sales fell 2.8%. The company is continuing its focus on exclusive brands and making the most of its new website which apparently performed well in the lead-up to Christmas, and produced record online traffic on Boxing Day.

Myer says it will continue to focus on in-store customer service, expanding its exclusive brand range and improving its online offer. For them, increasing profit is a good start.

The Pain of Retail




“Australia's retailers have started the year where they ended it — in a world of pain.”

This was the quote from an article on the ABC this week. Australian January retail sales were up only 0.1% which surprised many who expected a rebound from December’s poor result (down 0.4%)

Meanwhile in the US, there were reports of 5,300 store closures over coming months including the likes of Gap, Victoria’s Secret and K-Mart. Payless Shoes (gone into liquidation) are closing 2500 stores.

And while it is fine to talk about the statistics, there is a more compelling element to the pain and one that is echoing around QVM right now. Financial hardship is very real for many traders, and even for those getting by, there is no escaping the frustration of declining trade. The personal impact of these times is inescapable.

There are calls for government action because consumer demand is such an important part of our economy’s health. The Reserve Bank is taking a keen interest in the performance of the economy as it mulls over interest rates. Major retail players like Myer are in the limelight as they grapple with extreme change in our industry.

For market traders there is plenty of advice, sometimes conflicting, often without guarantees, and only the game (or foolish) claim to have simple answers. As each of us work through our own situation it might pay to focus on what we can control and leave the rest to others. Frustration has little to offer.

By Greg Smith



Shipping Containers Are Green



An article in the Sydney Morning Herald this week praised the contribution of containers to the retail industry.

Extolling the flexibility, mass appeal, and point of difference with containers modified for retail use, the article identified high profile retailers like Tesla, Gucci, and Nike as past and present users.

And the “green” bit? With over 24 million unused shipping containers around the world, converting them to a useful retail purpose amortises the original energy investment in a very positive way. 

Latest Retail News – 10/3/2019


Latest Retail News – 10/3/2019
1. Report says retail insolvencies on the rise.
2. Hugh Jackman named as R.M.Williams boot ambassador.
3. IGA trialling smaller format stores.
4. Coles sells groceries on eBay.
5. Myer lifts profit.
6. Allensford takes 19% interest in Reject Shop.
7. Officeworks acquires Geeks2U.
8. Costco trumps Amazon in US online customer satisfaction.
9. Coles brings “Quiet hour” to 79 more stores.
10. Retail slows in January.
11. Kaufland receives aproval for 3 Victorian supermarkets.
12. Sports Direct seeks to sack Debenhams Board.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

A VIP Leaves Our Market

Security at QVM without Charlie will not be the same, but he is leaving us next week to enjoy a new life in country Victoria.

Charlie has spent 13 years helping to keep QVM a safe place. What Charlie lacks in height he makes up for in heart and a remarkable ability to control difficult situations. He is well known to many traders for his no-nonsense approach to keeping a large public space in order. Belligerent customers (including one last year with a hammer), difficult traders, lost children, and early morning or late night revellers have all been part of his watch.

But it is Charlie's friendly, positive disposition that has brightened the day for many and that is a trait that will be particularly missed. We wish Charlie a very happy and productive future as he takes on a new direction in life.

Have Your Say - click here.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 3/3/2019


A bit of movement in the ranks of Fruit & Vegetable traders with reports that award winners from the 2018 QVM Trader Awards, the Bongiorno Brothers, have sold their business, and another F&V Trader has had their license cancelled.

And the caption for this photo – “He’s not spreading, just hanging out the washing.”


It is easy to complain about extreme temperatures during the current heatwave but as one trader pointed out it doesn’t seem to faze our tourist visitors who may only be in town for a few days and just get on with their shopping no matter what the conditions.

While we are talking about tourists – one English tourist said over the weekend that he will be telling his friends back home not to worry so much about the sharks, spiders, and snakes in Australia, but those bush fires are really scary.

Card or bust – a trader reported that card transactions over this weekend constituted 86% of his total sales. He put that down to tourists, including internationals, who now all seem to be enjoying the convenience of tap’n’go technology.

One traders answer to the heat problem.



Did anybody else notice that J Shed didn’t have many stall gaps in Sunday’s extreme heat? Is that aisle becoming the “comfort aisle”?

And one trader says he is surprised at how many traders are attending Opera At The Market this week. He didn’t realise we had so many cultured traders. Another trader who attended last year said the night was quite magnificent and the sound and lighting show off our wonderful old sheds in their true beauty. “Unfortunately we spoil the setting by putting in traders.” He was joking. Seriously! He was joking.

Trying To Make Sense Of QVM’s Upper Market Decline.

This may seem blindingly obvious but there is a simple reason why shopping centres are reducing the space devoted to standard shops and creating more entertainment - footfall is down.

Shoppers are no longer inspired by simple shopping and no amount of advertising is going to correct that. But modern retail thinking suggests there are other things that bring consumers to retail centres – things like concerts, arts centres, spas, fitness clubs, children’s activities, fine dining – and the list goes on. Things that create a desirable link with customers, and help form a bond, perhaps a community bond, that makes a centre able to satisfy other needs. Importantly these services provide a level of leisure and entertainment that can never be satisfied online.  

QVM is experiencing the same decline in “shopping activity” and that is why trader numbers are falling.  QVM has very successfully enhanced food and entertainment in its Night Market schedule, but the daytime activity remains a challenge, at least in the Upper Market. String Bean Alley is an interesting exercise.  It has the potential to create something new and interesting for the Day Market, and it fits in well with Night Market activities.

But the bigger picture for the Upper Market is a major exercise. It requires intense retail thinking and probably thinking that is driven by new learning. There is a huge amount of new learning and experimentation going on right now. Retailers around the globe are spending millions on new ways of exciting consumers and making shopping (sorry, “retail experiences”) more convenient and desirable.

To some extent that future is out of the hands of individual traders although the search for new entrepreneurial ideas, and general excellence in retailing, should remain the aim for every trader. But amongst traders there are real frustrations with things like stall gaps, and when times are tough, time is an enemy.  It might be helpful if we could start the conversation on how we curate a better market right now. There are plenty who would put their shoulder to that cause.

By Greg Smith

Whats In A Name ? - Take Two

Yes, we did post this article last week and we do apologise for showing it again but some of you may have noticed that the Have Your Say function wasn't working. Our friendly technology conglomerate Google decided to disable one of the plug-ins that we were using for feedback so we have now devised a whole new way of making comments about articles. 
Here is the article again. If you are reading this direct from the post you will find a comment option at the bottom. If not, click on the heading to the article and the comment option will appear. Please comment if you wish. Thanks - Ed


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.




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.