Are String Bean Alley containers a whole new way of shopping or just an evolution of open stands that meets modern demands? It is an interesting question and one that we probably haven’t examined closely enough particularly in relation to the cost of trading.
The interest in containers from traders is huge. Twelve new containers in SBA attracted 70 applicants. Some traders are suggesting that containers should become the dominant option in our market. A lot of that is probably being driven by the convenience factor. A roller door means lots of labour saving. Some traders in open stands spend 2 hours at the beginning of the day setting up and another 2 hours packing.
There are other factors at work too. Customers are demanding more accessibility to traders. Trading more often and trading longer are two of those demands.
Night time trading is becoming a key element for the market and some of you will be aware of the effort it takes packing up a stall at the Wednesday Night Market, getting home at around midnight, and then turning up for trade early the next morning, all while keeping a smile on your face. A roller door certainly makes that easier.
And of course all this needs to be done on a shoe string, because low operating costs are the ace card of small businesses like ours. Traders have been maximising efficiency and minimising costs since 1878. That is how we remain competitive.
String Bean Alley is an interesting experiment. In many ways containers are an improvement on existing open stand set-ups but we shouldn’t get carried away. So far the day trading in SBA has been disappointing. Completing the aisle and giving it identity will hopefully correct that. But the jury is still out on the economics and it will probably take 6 months, or at least until 5 day trading is introduced in SBA to get the full picture.
Containers in SBA have great potential, but like all business ventures we should watch the efficiency/cost equation very closely as we move forward.
By Greg Smith