Sunday 24 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 24/11/2019

The first Summer Night Market was opened officially by Lord Mayor Sally Capp on Wednesday Night with a few special guests in attendance including ex CFO Vic Ailakis and ex Board Chairman, Paul Guerra.

Retail can be cruel – Thursday’s special shopping day for attendees of the Jehovah’s Witness conference was one of the hottest and windiest November days on record with a number of Traders forced to shut up shop. All reports suggest that those who were able to trade recorded good sales.

A customer visiting from the Jehovah’s Witness conference called in at F1 asking staff if the bag they had just purchased was made from real leather as claimed by the Trader. Staff decided the bag was unlikely to be made of leather particularly as it had cost only $20. We understand that a Precinct Manager intervened to assist the customer with a satisfactory resolution.

Traders have questioned the placement of the new bollards up on Peel St. including one directly in front of a Traders stall. We understand the placement of bollards is in accordance with the latest crime intelligence on public place intrusions.

A number of Traders have commented on the influx of new Traders in the market including a high-tech Artificial Intelligence movie booth. Filling the gaps is most welcome.

A Trader commented that Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg’s, call for Australians to work longer is already being adopted by many QVM Traders. Once again we are ahead of the pack.

A few Traders have noticed that our esteemed cleaner, Guru Pete, has lost considerable weight recently as he continues to work on his health. And the good news is that the Guru will be part of the new team taking over the cleaning contract at the market.

String Bean Alley has a great community feeling amongst its Traders and when Ronnie Z handed out free juices to his neighbours during the 36 degree heat on Wednesday evening he got a gold star. Thanks Ronnie.

With Trader Lee recently suffering broken fingers, his nephew on crutches, and Trader David recovering from a wrist injury, Traders are asking if Watches & Clocks is the most dangerous category in our market.

A Trader reported on Thursday that she knew when the wind changed direction that afternoon because stock that had blown out of her stall in the morning, blew back in from the car park later in the day – true story.

This week's bad (but irresistible) joke - "Did you hear about the tape measure who scaled Mount Everest .... he went to extraordinary lengths."

A few Traders commented on how pleasant and respectful the Jehovah’s Witness customers were.  "They can come back anytime."

Do We Need A Closer Look At Trader Parking?

The special QVM bulletin put out this week could result in higher parking costs for many Traders and maybe it is the right time to look at the question of Trader parking in more detail.

From January, Traders who park in RK/RL and L sheds on Tuesday’s or Thursdays will need to find somewhere else to park their vehicles as the area will be activated for trading. In fact the bulletin states that there will be no more parking under the sheds except by Traders in their own stalls. Presumably that will affect those who previously parked in B to E Shed laneways as well.

And before we move on let’s identify a clear conflict of intent here. It has been a view by many (Traders and management) that Trader’s vehicles should not be parked in stalls if we want to maintain a professional retail appearance at QVM.

But for Traders needing alternative parking, car parks around the market have been nominated as alternatives (see list of alternative car parks below).  The problem is they all cost money. Early bird rates start at around $16 per day. Saturday, Sunday rates are generally around $10. For 5 day Traders the costs will mount up.

Why do Traders need parking? Market trading is unique, particularly in regard to limited trading space and storage. Many Traders (probably most Traders) replenish stock daily. And many Traders, certainly in the Upper Sheds, do not get the luxury of normal supplier deliveries either because they move locations from day to day or don’t have the space to unpack and allocate stock. Stock is delivered to homes or warehouses and then brought into the market.

So, a vehicle is an essential tool of trading. You cannot deliver stock via public transport (although there was a wallet trader a few years ago who carried all his stock in a suitcase on the train). For most Traders a vehicle is not a convenience, it is a necessary part of doing business at QVM.

We currently have a voucher system that allows Traders a discounted parking rate on weekdays ($12) but vouchers are not available on Saturday and Sunday when we dedicate our car park to customers. Vouchers are also available to city workers, a sort of Early Bird system at QVM. (*) The problem is that availability is not based on time but on a strictly rationed quota. As an example, Friday vouchers are usually exhausted by 7:30 am and Traders who arrive after that time have to make alternative arrangements or pay full price for parking.

There are a few things to consider here –
-        Should Traders who are using vehicles for stock replenishment be provided with car parking?
-        Should the voucher system be extended to all authorized Traders regardless of time of entry (in other words scrap the quota system)?
-        Should QVM Traders get preference over city workers? (*)
-        At what level do parking rates become prohibitive for Traders? A 5 day Trader who takes Early Bird parking outside the market could spend around $70 per week – a significant cost in tough times.

It would seem that more discussion is needed on this subject and your thoughts are welcome.

* Correction: "Vouchers are not available to city workers. They are only available to QVM traders and there is system in place to ensure they are only given to traders. The early bird prices referred to for city workers are on non-Market days only and no voucher is given, it’s based on the entry and exit time of the vehicle as per standard early bird prices."

Alternative Car Parks Near QVM:
Wilson Parking - 380 Latrobe St. (Entry via A’Beckett St.)
Mon-Fri 6:00am - 10:00pm
Early Bird $18.00 (Mon-Fri in 6am-10am out 2pm-12am)
Sat-Sun 7:00am - 10:00pm - Flat Rate $10.00 (Sun) $11.00 (Sat)

CBD Park - 58 Franklin St.
Early Bird $16.00 (in 5:30am-9:30am out 2pm-12am)
Sat-Sun - $12.00

SMA (Kim Lim) 162 A’Beckett St.
Mon-Fri 6:00am - 8:00pm
Sat 7:00am - 6:00pm
Early Bird $13.00 (Mon,Wed In by 9:30am out 2pm-8pm)
Early Bird $16.00 (Mon-Fri In by 10am out 2pm-8pm)

The Mint Car Park 383 Latrobe St.
Early Bird $19.00 (Mon-Fri in 7am-10am out 3pm-9pm)
Sat-Sun - All day Flat Rate $10.00

NOTE: This information has been taken from websites. Check with Car Parks for any special conditions.

Latest Retail News – 24/11/2019

Latest Retail News – 24/11/2019
1. Cotton On opens in Vietnam.
2. Steinhoff International’s Australian subsidiary has sold Best&Less, Harris Scarfe and Debenhams.
3. First high-end convenience store from David Jones/BP collaboration opens in Bayside, Melbourne.
4. Colgate launches recyclable toothpaste tube.
5. Most grocery stores struggle to make good use of customer data.
6. Woolworths expands its delivery service.
7. Plus size clothing retailer City Chic to open 15 new stores over next 3 years.
8. Dimmeys to close down.
9. Security and tracking within stores receives upgrade as un-manned convenience stores roll out.
10. Marks & Spencer hire senior Tesco executive to rescue declining clothing sales.

The One Thing Most People Don’t Understand About Branding -

QVM In The News - 24/11/2019

You might think that all farmer market types are the same and you might be partially correct. However, Queen Victoria Market is a completely different ...
At the Queen Victoria Market another fashion stall recently sold a jacket with fur around its hood, which the stallholder described as “faux fur”.
At Queen Victoria market a stallholder had a fur-trimmed jacket described as faux fur but testing showed similar results to the beanies at South ...
Mr Burstall told a Friends of Queen Victoria Market forum that fruit and vegetable traders were being driven out of business so they could be replaced ...
A public forum on the future of the Queen Victoria Market will be held at Drill Hall on Wednesday night. Mary-Lou Howie, President of Friends of the ...

Monday 18 November 2019

In Defence Of Stuff - Rant Warning

I am sick of people running down “stuff” as gifts particularly at Christmas time. The new age approach (or is that millennial approach) is to give experiences rather than stuff. Well sorry, but experiences are soon forgotten, while “stuff” hangs around.

And the “forgotten” bit becomes more relevant as you get older. I don’t remember my 70th Birthday but each day I am greeted by these wonderful gifts from my Grandaughter which reside on my office desk. 

The plastic bottle, incidentally, has little supermarket giveaways in side which add movement and colour as you shake the bottle. Both the bottle and the graphic are gifts that keep on giving.

And yes, there are life experiences that keep on giving as well, the first date with my wife probably a standout. But there is a place for stuff. Stuff brings back memories. Stuff decorates. Stuff reconnects with people and events. And stuff can be very functional. One of my favourite gifts (after the plastic bottle) is my watch – a mechanical masterpiece that will last for 100 years.

Maybe society is simply over reacting to “stuff”. Yes, we do need to watch how much we consume. Yes, we do need to save the planet. But along the way, functional, attractive, meaningful, or even whimsical “stuff” has its place. And yes, some of that stuff can be donations to communities in need so they can buy stuff designed to improve life.

Am I biased? Let’s be honest – this is a retailer talking. Many of us rely on consumers buying “stuff” to earn a living. I just think we need some kickback to a trend that might be based more around laziness than a desire to give something meaningful. My Grandaughter had this nailed.

By Greg Smith

Sunday 17 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 17/11/2019

Jehovahs Witness delegates sighted already. It is a week out from the Jehovah’s Witness conference at Marvel Stadium but delegates have already been seen in our aisles.

A Trader points out that it is now 4 years since the last JW conference and a lot has changed in the world economy since – perhaps we shouldn’t assume a sales spike this time.

New evacuation process? It was probably simply a timing error by a contractor but when a truck pulled up adjacent to the toilets at the top of String Bean Alley at 3:10pm on Sunday, and started pumping out the ladies toilet, the effect was almost immediate. The combination of noise and very unpleasant smell cleared a nearby café in seconds. At least one Trader was forced to leave their stall until the smell subsided. Maybe a lesson for evacuation co-ordinators worried about getting a response. Smell can be a very powerful activator.
Follow-up: Apparently the toilets were in danger of overflowing and being closed down. The decision was made to do a quick pump out rather than close the toilets. 

Renovations in C Shed include some good old fashioned wood-working as repairs are made to timber posts. A Trader sent us this photo.

Repairs in C Shed are being conducted with as little disruption as possible but one Trader suggests the tradies could be asked to turn down their radio during trading hours. Traders are prohibited from playing loud music at their stalls and perhaps tradies could comply as well. 

Still on C Shed – a Trader asks why we can’t board off the construction area so it looks less like a construction zone. 

String bean Alley Traders have been given approval to trade on Thursday 21st November prior to the Jehovah’s Witness conference.

Google mail problem. Google is an important search option for businesses and getting your business to show on Google requires an application and a confirmation of your address. The problem is that Google send you a letter in the mail to confirm your address, and QVM don’t accept mail for Traders. Well actually they don’t accept mail except for Google mail. One of our Precinct Managers confirmed that a letter from Google will be delivered to your stall to enable registration. 

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – Three tape measures exploring the Amazon jungle were captured by cannibals. The lead tape measure said “Take me to your ruler.”

Concerns on Monday that the Jehovah’s Witness website was only showing fresh food on its QVM information page quickly got a response from our Marketing Team with new photos introduced, and a complete listing of all the Trader special offers for conference delegates including food and Specialty Merchandise.

Next Wednesday's Summer Night Market season opening is expected to go off with a bang helped by live bands from the Melbourne Music Festival and a 32 degrees temperature forecast.

An Artist's View Of Our Market

Photographer Andrew Bertuleit was walking along Queen St one Tuesday evening when he caught sight of this compelling view of D Shed. He quickly raced back to his shop for a camera. Unusually the shed was completely vacant of any facilities having been used for a special purpose that day. 

The glare of the sun as it set in the west, and the unusual pattern of shadows combined for a stunning shot. Thanks Andrew.

Tough Times In Retailing & Blaming The Wrong Things

There are lots of reasons why retailing at QVM is really tough at present but many we have heard over the past week are probably not relevant.

We all want to understand why business is so unpredictable. Understanding leads to corrective action, but if we don’t get the right understanding it can simply lead to frustration and sometimes even anger.

A common complaint in recent weeks concerns stall transfers, changes to permitted use, and the introduction of new Traders. These new arrangements will often change the competitive mix in the market and competition is a powerful dynamic. But each of those three ingredients (stall transfers, permitted use, new Traders) have compelling reasons for our full support. Without them, our ability to tackle this retail revolution is compromised.

Clearly we need new Traders. We have plenty of empty stalls to fill and new Traders add interesting new elements to our offer. We don’t want duplication but some crossover or competition with existing Traders can be difficult to avoid.

Changes to permitted use can change the competitive dynamic but we all need the flexibility to tweak our offer and address changes to consumer buying patterns. Part of our role as retailers is experimentation.

For similar reasons, stall transfers can be an important tool for Traders looking to adjust their offer, trial new trading arrangements, and ultimately get a better response from customers.

Management have a big responsibility here. They need to give Traders flexibility, encourage new Traders to the market, and minimise clashes. Many Traders recognise this is a tough job.

Poor business is caused by lots of reasons but at present the over-riding reason is low consumer demand. Low consumer demand is identified as the primary cause of retail decline across the globe. A competitor moving stalls, or adding products, or a new Trader with “similar” lines, is not the cause of our dilemma. On the contrary, retail is a fluid industry requiring freedom to change, adjust, and introduce new features. Our survival probably depends on it.

By Greg Smith

Latest Retail News – 17/11/2019

Latest Retail News – 17/11/2019
1. Coles partners with Sainsburys for new private label range.
2. Singles Day (11/11) takes US$1bn in first minute.
3. Australia’s Swisse, A2, Bubs, and Blackmores were big players in Singles Day.
4. Amazon to launch new supermarket brand. *
5. All Coca Cola Australia brands now available in recycled plastic containers.
6. Singles Day is Chemist Warehouse’s biggest online event.
7. Retailers downgrade their Christmas expectations.
8. Ebay introduces buy now, pay later.
9. Woolworths introduces Metro style supermarkets to Caltex service stations.
10. Footwear giant, Accent (Athletes Foot, Skechers,Vans), takes over online activewear retailer, Stylerunner.

QVM In The News - 17/11/2019

Nifra Poultry, a premier butcher store located at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, announced the release of new poultry and game meat products.
I met the Italian students and their Australian peers at the Queen Victoria Market, as they were ready to explore the city. Aside from the market, the ...
... the Argus Building, ACMI's Basement, Queen Victoria Market and the uninhabited former Royal Women's Hospital getting an overhaul for the annual ...

Sunday 10 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 10/11/19

The Attraction of Dumplings - A customer was timed waiting 40 minutes in a queue at Monday’s International Dumpling Festival.

A first for one of our Traders when he was offered a small sample of marijuana by a customer as thanks for handing over his business card on Saturday. The customer then made the mistake of offering a sample to a Market Officer. Not the smartest promotional activity we have heard of.

Passionate dispute between two Traders may benefit neighbours – this story started off innocently enough with a Trader declaring they had baked some Lemonade Scones. Their neighbour quickly pointed out that scones made with lemonade are NOT true scones. Apparently lemonade is supposed to add an airy quality to the scones but our complainant insisted that scones made properly did not need aeration. Some spirited discussion followed and it was agreed that a bake-off should be conducted so neighbouring Traders could settle the issue. Double whipped cream and a variety of jams have been proposed. We hope to bring you a result soon.

The Dumpling Market on Monday experienced one of the severest rain storms ever seen in SBA. Red dominated on the radar, but the downpour didn’t seem to dampen the appetite for dumplings under the sheds. That of course is one of the advantages of holding events at QVM – the show goes on despite the weather. The queues for dumplings were long but String Bean Alley Traders have called this “The Dumping Market”.  

The Jehovah’s Witness web site for the upcoming convention includes tourist advice for attendees but no mention of QVM. That didn’t stop attendees coming to QVM last time and we know that our Marketing Department have organised QVM special offer brochures for the visitors.
PS - there is in fact a separate website that lists things to do at the convention including QVM. The page shows trading hours and how to get to the market. See it here.

Last week’s complaint in Heard Under The Sheds about new signs confusing customers on the top walkway has brought a quick review from the QVM Marketing Department. Expect some modifications soon.

The Lucky Tree Saga – Ronnie Z has quite a collection of fauna around his van, and during his recent absence for van renovations he farmed out two of his lemon trees to neighbouring Trader, Tony. When Ronnie returned to claim his trees Tony refused saying that for the few days Ronnie was away, the trees looked really good at his container, and brought him good luck. He wanted to keep them. News got out about the “good luck charms” and at one stage a tree mysteriously disappeared into a stall in a neighbouring aisle. We believe that the trees are now back with Ronnie but this story proves two things. Firstly, any suggestion of good luck charms can create quite a frenzy. Secondly, Traders really do have too much time on their hands. Both are consequence of quiet trading.

A Trader is delighted that a quick phone call to the Small Business Mentoring Service earlier in the week got him a visit from a mentor and he is now on the path to setting up a Facebook/Instagram presence for his business.

Another Trader reported that he made his first Instagram post this week and has new followers already.

According to one Trader, all the publicity about our new trading hours is really great. He believes that the market should be constantly informing the public about our hours.

And on those new hours - A few Traders are keeping tabs on sales in the extra hour Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And the results so far? - let's say that the public might need more time to realise we are open later.

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – “Why didn’t Santa come to work? Because he was given the sack.”

The Current State Of Retailing

While sales continue to struggle under the sheds at QVM there are a few things happening out in the wider retail world that give cause for concern.

Perhaps leading the concern are reports that the recent Federal Government tax concessions are not filtering through to retail. When Kevin Rudd opened the purse strings back in 2008 the impact on retail buying was almost immediate. This time, there is concern that tax concessions are going to pay down debt and the much needed boost to the economy is simply not happening.

September retail sales fell well short of expectations although foot traffic is up in October.

A recent global survey of CEO confidence recorded a 21% drop in sentiment by our leaders with climate change, Brexit, trade wars and Hong Kong protests blamed for the decline.

The Australian Retailers Association is about to go through a shake-up with long time chief, Russell Zimmerman, departing and major retailers joining the group for the first time. This follows a failed attempt to join the ARA and NRA in one body.

Struggling department David Jones recently announced the sale of its building on the south side of Bourke St. Mall to provide better facilities in its store across the road although observers suggest it is more about pervading financial issues for the group with major losses over the last two years.

Economic commentators are predicting another interest rate cut although talk is more about sitting tight and seeing what happens globally. Even the Reserve Bank has been described as having a “wait and see” approach, as it looks to others, including the Federal Government, to make moves.

At a local level, Traders are reporting unexplained fluctuations in business levels. There have been increasing occasions when good crowds simply do not translate to sales and the normal boost provided by events like the Spring Racing Carnival is not evident. Traders are reporting a good variety of visitors, and a positive response to a day out at QVM, but shopping bags remain scarce.

At present there is a lot of head scratching going in and in racing language, perhaps we are just waiting for someone or something to break out of the pack and race forward. Until then we might need to keep a tight rein on expenses and make the most of limited opportunities.

By Greg Smith

Articles Worth a Read – 10/11/2019

8 Statistical Insights to Improve Your Instagram Game and Business -

Latest Retail News – 10/11/2019

Latest Retail News – 10/11/2019
1. Woolworths trials cashless Mini Metro.
2. Aldi to feature ham in its Christmas campaign.
3. Major retailers to join Australian Retailers Association as Russell Zimmerman departs.
4. Tax refunds fail to reach retail sales.
5. Coles offers unlimited deliveries for flat fee in online subscription service.
6. Nike brings its personalisation service to Australia.
7. Amazon Australia offers buy now, pay later.
8. Queensland considers single use plastic bag ban.
9. NZ shoe retailer, Ziera, with 23 stores in Australia, unable to find buyer.
10. Catch launches pop-up store in Target.

QVM In The News - 10/11/2019

While Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market is one of the iconic places to visit in the chilly city with smells of delicious produce wafting through the streets ...
Visiting the Queen Victoria Market is equivalent joining celebrations of an ever-lasting festival. It is known for being one of the largest open-air markets ...
Queen Victoria market of Melbourne is famous for its fresh produce, eateries and cafes, alongside its specialty shopping that comprises of Kitchen and ...

Ahead of opening a permanent store in Thornbury in December, Melbourne's first dedicated Portuguese tart shop is popping up at the Queen Vic ...

Sunday 3 November 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 3/11/2019

A Trader tells us about his cruel brother who, when he was young and impressionable, told him he was adopted - purchased at the Queen Victoria Market. Now he trades here, he loves the connection, and he has forgiven his brother.

A Trader may be re-thinking his involvement with aggressive customers after sustaining a broken finger on Saturday, and losing at least one days trade. The customer was believed to be high on drugs and ended up in the back of a divvy van. An altercation may have been difficult to avoid but either way the price can be considerable.

Overheard early morning in one of our food shops
Trader to Server - "Could you hurry my breakfast? I’m on my own today."
Server - "So, do you want a medal?"
Trader - "Ok. But where will you pin it?"
Server - "I’ll give you three guesses."

Misguiding Tourists - A new sign up on the top walkway has Traders and customers confused. The map is not correctly oriented so it is very difficult to get directions unless you lie sideways. 

Racing around - Last week we noted how apprentice tipster Michael Mallon picked the third placegetter in the Cox Plate. This week Guru Pete was back in the tipping chair but celebrity tipster Tony P pipped the Guru with a third place in the Derby while Pete’s tip came 4th. We wonder if Pete is feeling the pressure.

Vehicle safety is a concern in the aisles with bollards controlling traffic flow. An ex Trader recalled how one of his lady customers used to call at his haberdashery stall in J Shed to order lace and then Company Director husband would drive his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost into the aisle during trading hours to pick up the order. Times have changed.

Last week’s strong winds caused one Trader to recall the time a mini tornado carried one of his seat covers high off into the wild blue, never to be seen again.

A Trader suggests a raft of measures to attract new Traders including one off allocations, tables and fittings provided, free rent for up to 4 weeks, and removal of all red tape. His theory is that there are potential new entrepreneurs out there who just need encouragement “to give it a go.”

A Trader notes that one way that Instagram and Facebook have changed retailing is to allow excellence in presentation. Products and services can be made to look extra good with some clever photography. His point is that gaps in our market are an aspect of presentation that fails by comparison.

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – “Did you hear about the left-handed tool shop…. It’s just not right!!!!!!”

String Bean Alley Suffers – During a rainy day this week, the only customers in this shot taken at noon are hurrying to get under the sheds.

String Bean Alley Opportunity – The Melbourne International Dumpling Festival was held last year in Federation Square but this year will be conducted in a Night Market format at QVM on Monday 4th November, including SBA. The event is conducted by an outside organisation and it will be interesting to see the public response.