Tuesday, 15 October 2019

From The Archives - Michael Mallon Interview

Back in 2011, the most popular Victraders articles often involved interviews with Traders and this one got a lot of readership. It was an occasion when Tony Pierrakos filled in for the Editor. Michael Mallon can be a funny man and we suspect that Tony got the best out of him.

Interview With Michael Mallon - 5/6/2011

Name? - Michael

What do you do/sell at the market? - Giftware
How long have you been at the market? -  35 years.
What do you like best about the market? -  Not being here.
Worst moment? - Waiting for Tony to take this photo.
Past jobs? - Bus driver.
Sporting interests? - Horse racing and rugby.
If you were CEO for a day? - I'd move my neighbour Tim Moore  a few stalls away.
One thing nobody knows about you? - If I tell you everybody will know.
Favorite food? - 16 sausage mix, my own personal recipe, recipe available at a price.
Favorite drink? - Red wine.
Favorite TV show/ movie ? - Groundhog Day, and Melbourne cup carnival.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? - Don't work at the market.
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do ? - Try find the sod that told me to work at the market.
If you were given a 2 week free holiday anywhere around the world, where would you choose to go? - Spain, I think.

Thanks Michael

Interviewed by Tony

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 13/10/2019

Money matters 1 - a customer asked the Trader if they could pay by card and they were told “Yes, as long as you spend $10.” For some reason the customer was upset when the Trader refused to accept a card for a $1 purchase. With a standard EFTPOS charge of around 30c (in this case 30%) we are on the Traders side.

Money matters 2 - a customer wanted to purchase a $13 meal on card and was told “Sorry, you must spend $20 for a card transaction.” That’s a bit rough, and here we are on the customers side. Incidentally it cost the customer $2.50 to go to the nearest ATM for cash.

A customer says he is going to buy a Tattslotto ticket after his luck in finding no queue at the American Donut Van on Queen St. around noon on Saturday. Most Traders wouldn’t regard that as good luck.

Like many Melbournians, Traders are well known for their sporting interest but kick-boxing between a Trader and a customer this week wasn’t the sort of draw-card our market needs.

Warmer weather is the time for walking in the sun, attracting tourists, showing off summer clothing, and unfortunately, pervading smells. Our first day of 20plus degrees in a while and Traders in C (or is it D Shed) placed covers over a nearby drain on Sunday in an attempt to reduce the unpleasant smell.

The recent shortage of car park vouchers on Fridays (generally none left after 7:00am) is apparently explained by the works in C and D sheds which has taken away the parking spots in the laneways. One Trader asks how many vouchers are taken by Traders with legitimate need to carry stock and how many are purely for convenience parking.

A Trader says there is one really good reason we should all work to eradicate the vacant stall syndrome. It is called “Protecting The Brand”. The Queen Victoria Market is known around the world and more famous than David Jones or Myer. Clearly we need to show our best face at all times.

A Trader in String Bean Alley reports that one of his elderly customers joked “A string bean is a string bean but a pea is a relief.” And that qualifies as our bad joke of the week.

The Melbourne Marathon has once again drawn complaints from Traders as they struggled through road barricades to get to the market on Sunday morning and wondered what impact that would have on customers.

There was some concern that climate change activists might target QVM as part of their guerrilla campaign. But, apart from a few activists located around Queen St. on Friday, they appear to have left us alone, at least for now.

And finally the tale of a stolen pair of ear-rings which a Trader thought might have been taken by a woman customer on Friday. The customer returned the next day and, you guessed it, she was wearing the stolen ear-rings. Our Trader was too amused to get upset but she did report the matter to security who we understand escorted the customer from the market.

Market Entertainment - Hunting The Guru

With at least 7 or 8 large groups of school children coming through our market on Friday, one of our traders (thanks Darren) suggested we could take an idea from Disneyland and create a mystery hunt to entertain young visitors.

Apparently Disney have small Mickey Mouse figures dotted around their Disneyland complexes. Visitors are given a book to record their sightings of these figures and of course social media plays a part in the process.

The school groups that visit QVM are often given a list of tasks to perform during their visit and extending that activity to any visitor might be worthwhile. Of course we need a celebrity to focus on and who could be better than our own Guru Pete.

We decided to take on the “Hunting The Guru” concept and placed small stickers around our market. Below are close-ups of the stickers. See if you can work out where they were placed.

Answers can be found here – Hunting the Guru Locations.

Articles Worth A Read – 13/10/2019

Many articles about retailing come across our desk each week and here are four that we thought were worth a read.

Can You Teach Entrepreneurship? - https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/339851

Four Ways To Make Prices Seem Lower - https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/323876

Latest Retail News – 13/10/2019

Latest Retail News – 13/10/2019
1. RBA says international retailers significantly impact on Australian prices.
2. Some green shoots but retail continues to disappoint.
3. ANZ survey says latest rate cut impacted negatively on consumer confidence.
4. Coles launches 30 minute meal plans.
5. Chemist Warehouse opens first store in China.
6. Nestle introduces Starbucks coffee range for Australian homes.
7. Country Road moves into fashion rentals.
8. UBS says Coles & Woolworths experienced price inflation in September indicating positive trend.
9. Egg farmers call on retailers to increase prices.
10. Michael Hill shows strength in first quarter.

QVM In The News - 13/10/2019

The Queen Victoria Market, which sits just over the Victoria Street southern border, is ripe for any foodstuffs that Errol Street's IGA supermarket fails to ...
If you're at Queen Victoria Market for a whole day, the menu of the day may look like this: 1) starter doughnuts, 2) main course doughnuts, 3) dessert ...
The success of a pop-up at the Queen Victoria Market convinced them to open a permanent store. “There are some characteristics that you have to get ...

The New Order In Retailing

New Order In

“At the heart of each change within the fall of an industry lies consumer demand. It’s up to businesses to interpret the changing tides of opinion and desire, and cater to them.”
Joshua H. Davidson

Davidson's quote got us thinking about the new order and here are some examples that might lead us to change the old ways of retailing.

Your customer doesn’t want to dance to your tune, they want influence, and convenience is paramount.

Your customer doesn’t want waste – sustainability is a new driver.

Save the planet, because customers think that is important.

Customers want delivery now.

Global prices are no longer a secret.

If you don’t have a point of difference, your customers will be indifferent.

Customer Service - Don’t force but be attentive.

Your competitors now include the power companies, mobile service providers, and any organisation that has managed to absorb discretionary spending.

Retail hours are whenever your customer wants contact.

Your competitor may be anywhere in the world.

Your customer can find out almost anything.

Customers want value.

Customers don’t have to buy now.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 6/10/2019

A Trader reports a radio discussion on the ABC about Chapel St. Traders encouraging dogs into their shops. The move is yet another unusual example of retailers trying to attract customers back to high street shopping.

With later opening times about to launch in the Upper Market, a Trader asks will parking vouchers be available for Traders who arrive an hour later than normal?

A Trader suggests that a 6 months trial moratorium on the stall spacing rule might make it easier for new Traders to avoid harassment – see our article https://www.victraders.com/2019/09/harassment-at-qvm.html

There have been reports that the trial of three new Traders sharing a container in String Bean Alley may not have met expectations.

He’s Back! A number of Traders were delighted to see the return of Caricaturist Ivano after a short break overseas and apparently customers were delighted to see him as well.

Traders have commented on the incredible volatility of trading at present with a really good day followed by a really poor day, and no rhyme or reason. One lamented that choosing a day off has suddenly become a lot harder.

A Trader suggests that we should provide hydration stations around the market like we do at the Night Market. Providing facilities for customers and Traders to refill water bottles would be consistent with modern event practice.

Traders were pleased to see CEO, Stan Liacos, engaging in a variety of Trader conversations around the Upper Market on Friday.

One of the Baristas at Padre Coffee was treated with a loud rendition of Happy Birthday on Saturday with Traders and Customers joining in the fun.

A Trader commented that restoration works at the top of C Shed appear fairly low key with a few bolts being replaced and some paintwork. “Our old sheds seem to have stood up to the passage of time better than some Traders.”

One of our Watch Traders was not impressed when asked if he had turned all his watches forward one hour for daylight saving.

And from our bad (but irresistible) joker – “I sold my vacuum cleaner the other day…. It was just collecting dust.”

Have Your Say - click here.

Articles Worth A Read – 6/10/2019

What the retail apocalypse means for the American economy

Three reasons the problems for Forever 21 don’t spell the end for brick’n’mortar. https://www.insideretail.com.au/news/3-reasons-forever-21s-bankruptcy-doesnt-spell-the-end-of-brick-and-mortar-retailing-201910#daily

Fitch downgrades Australia's economic growth, while Rabobank tips 'modest' global recession

Trader’s New Website Feature Looks A Winner

File Photo
One of the SBMS/RMIT interns who was re-designing a Trader’s website introduced a feature that had immediate results and maybe this feature should be included in all web exposure for Traders.

The feature was a photograph of the Trader, in fact a number of photos throughout the Trader’s website. The new website was launched last weekend and on Wednesday Night a friendly group of Asian tourists visited the Trader’s stall. They came into the stall like long lost friends which had the Trader a little confused at first until they revealed that they had seen his picture on the new website. They turned out to be good customers.

The intern who designed the website wanted to highlight the Trader through pictures because he believed the personal contact that Traders establish with their customers is their ace card in this increasingly impersonal retail world. The personal touch can be conveyed in other ways as well with stories of the Trader’s retail experience, their business philosophies, and how their products can mean more than simple purchases.

Maybe this is a tip for every Trader when they plan their web exposure.

Embracing The Future - Just Thinking Out Loud

Just thinking out loud.

The modern world of retailing is all about online and digital marketing - think remote access to customers.

But as Traders, we know that crowds are our lifeline and our physical connection, particularly with tourists, is very important.

We can’t deny the populations attraction to the latest retailing options so should we embrace them? Should we have an Amazon pick up point at QVM? Should we have a (wait for it) supermarket at QVM? Whatever it takes to get crowds on our patch.

Are we better to distance ourselves from those growing trends or embrace them and show that what we have to offer is intrinsic to the future, no matter where it goes?

Encouraging customers to get their stuff at QVM might mean expanding options rather than avoiding them. Consumers decide what is relevant.

Latest Retail News - 6/10/2019

Latest Retail News – 6/10/2019
1. Coles to expand its offer on eBay.
2. Patagonia to open Melbourne flagship store on Little Collins St. in November.
3. Luxury luggage brand, Rimowa, opens pop-up store at Chadstone.
4. Ripcurl sold to Kathmandu in $350m deal.
5. Coles trials zero-waste supermarket.
6. Forever 21 files for bankruptcy and plans hundreds of store closures.
7. David Jones to sell its Bourke St menswear store and invest in sister store across the road.
8. Industry hopes interest rate cut will boost spending where other measures have failed.
9. Coles to open in-store food halls.
10. First certified Lego store opens at Westfield Doncaster.
11. Retail trade stabilises in September after nine months of contraction.
12. High shipping costs are deterrent for shopping online in Australia.

QVM In The News - 6/10/2019

Mr Guerra, most recently CEO of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, has an ... including seven years as Chairman of the Queen Victoria Market.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 29/9/2019

Earlier this week office staff were looking for a Richmond fan and a GWS fan amongst Traders presumably for some sort of marketing promotion. We hear that finding a GWS fan amongst Traders proved mission impossible.

A Trader is concerned that news of global tour operator Thomas Cook’s collapse will impact on the tourist dependant Upper Market.

Gas scare at the Night Market - turned out that the smell of leaking gas was actually Durian Fruit from a fruit stall, and yes this delicacy can smell that bad.

A Trader tells us that eBay’s introduction of free delivery on a large range of products this week is another indication of where retail is heading.

A hung over customer admitted he had come into the market early Saturday morning to work through his inebriated state. Security staff wish he had gone home to do that.

A few Traders said they expected the usual Grand Final day pattern of a little business before lunch,  and then a very quiet afternoon, as most of Melbourne turned their attention to football. But this year the “little before lunch” turned out to be “very little.”

A Trader sent us this photo of an aisle In his local supermarket that is dedicated to ready to eat dinners and lunches.

Did everyone notice the market will be open Monday and Tuesday before Christmas Day this year?

Traders are asking how we can enshrine hard won conditions like the heat policy and single day absences so that they don’t get lost with each new licence renewal. Locking in those provisions would seem to make a lot of sense. One Trader suggested the TRC could put it as a priority.

The handing out of large plastic garbage bags to Traders has been criticised particularly in view of the retail plastic bag ban throughout the market. In the past such criticism has been dismissed as”points scoring” by Traders reluctant to move from plastic bags themselves, but one Trader says we should take this seriously. He feels uncomfortable every time he throws a huge plastic bag into the aisle at the end of the day. He asks why smaller paper bags can’t be distributed at least to those Traders who seek an option.

A rent rise never seems to fly under the radar but 2% seems to be grudgingly acceptable given that some increased expenditure by QVM is expected over the next 12 months. 4% would have been a different story.

One of our new traders confided that the hardest part of life at QVM is when she is  hassled by neighbouring Traders.

A Trader with an alternative corporate life says he attended a conference this week at which Westpac Chief Economist, Bill Evans, talked about the “retail sector now in recession and facing structural changes.”

And the bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – “Has everyone met our new TRC member Barbara the Sheep...... she is so excited to represent all ewe’s.”

Latest Retail News – 29/9/2019

Latest Retail News – 29/9/2019
1. Walmart to halt sale of e-cigarettes following health scare.
2. T.K.Maxx now has more than 50 stores in Australia.
3. Good360 reaches $100m in donations of essential family goods from major retailers.
4. Webjet takes $7m hit from Thomas Cook demise.
5. Amazon Australia to sell second hand tech.
6. Footwear brand Ziera falls into administration.
7. Chadstone Shopping Centre adds hotel to its range of customer services.
8. NZ looking to trademark Manuka Honey.
9. Australia sees rise in foot traffic despite falling sales.
10. Plastic bags to be banned in Victoria from November 2019.
11. Nestle unveils world’s largest Milo factory in Malaysia.
12. Sephora to open first SA store.
13. Kelloggs ventures into craft beer.
14. Haigh’s opens more stores in Sydney and Melbourne.

QVM In The News - 29/9/2019

By Stephen Mayne. As the City of Melbourne (CoM) finally gets cracking with its biggest ever investment in the Queen Victoria Market (QVM), the ...
By Sean Car. For the manager and “head barber” of Queen Victoria Market's (QVM's) new barbershop Edwin Squires, hairdressing runs in the family.
It seems impossible to believe now, but Melbourne's main cemetery was once located on the site of the iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM), mostly ...
The Queen Victoria Market's seasonal weekly Hawker 88 night market is welcoming a new stallholder this year, with durian trader Durasia supplying ...
Queen Victoria Market is officially changing its opening hours for the first time in almost 20 years, with many traders concerned that the longer hours ...
New Trading Hours to commence from 29 October
Queen Victoria Market has today announced it will change its trading hours for the first time in nearly 20 years, offering customers more consistency on ...

Punting, QVM, And Change

A colleague Trader once said that we are all gamblers. It is the anticipation, the possibility of riches, that brings Traders to the market each day with a positive mindset. But riches are becoming harder to find and there is another punting connection that might be relevant here.

Have you been to a horse or dog race meeting lately? If you have, you were probably part of a very small crowd. The gambling industry is strong, but the old practice of going to the racetrack and experiencing the sights, sounds, and buzz of a big crowd has changed. Punters now rely on modern technology to do their gambling and no longer have to go to the track. They have sacrificed the buzz for convenience.

There is a clear analogy with shopping trends. Customers who don’t wish to venture out shopping can do it online. They won’t get the buzz of shopping and they can get goods delivered to their door. It is all about convenient alternatives.

The local punting industry of course hasn’t abandoned crowds and clearly has a plan of attack for the Spring Carnival in 2019. The latest TV campaign is enticing punters with the prospect of dressing up, socialising, having a good time, and even hitching up with a partner. They are selling the entertainment value of going to the track. QVM has its Night Market and the Queen Street Festivals to do similar things, but the poor old Upper Market seems to miss out in the entertainment stakes.

So what do we do with the Upper market? Do we need to re-invent it? Is entertainment the answer and is that enough on its own? Do we comprehensively change the way we organise the Upper Market - create interesting variations on the mundane aisle system, introduce some well thought out entertainment elements, and make a real difference? If you were to sit down with a clean sheet of paper, how would you organise the Upper Market?

As a senior banking economist recently said – “The retail sector is in recession – facing structural challenges.” Clearly change is happening, and for the Upper Market, that change might as well be significant. The way business is going, what have we got to lose?

Harassment At QVM

Harassment of new Traders is alive and well at QVM and we must put a stop to it.

Last week we published an article about making it easier for new Traders to conduct business at our market. New Traders are our life blood and particularly important as difficult trading conditions create gaps in our ranks.

That article suggested providing stall facilities that made setting up easier but maybe we have a bigger problem for new Traders and it involves harassment by other Traders.

There is an unfortunate culture amongst some of our Traders that they should be protected from competition. They call up the old stall separation rules which many believe belong in the dinosaur age. The question needs to be asked - is protecting and encouraging new Traders more important than misguided protectionism?

Some Traders are brazen enough to raise the issue direct with the new Trader. Some may not openly engage with the new Trader, but they certainly make their feelings clear by raising complaints.

Imagine being a new Trader in a new environment and receiving this sort of negative response from the Trader community. And make no mistake, this sort of behaviour reflects on all of us unless we make every effort to put a stop to harassment.

Times are tough, and we can understand that Traders are concerned about any impact on their businesses. But we need to get our priorities right. We have a major problem attracting new Traders and that needs attention. The gaps in our market are an eyesore and they have to be filled. Let’s give new Traders our full support. Let's embrace what they can offer our market. As one of our Traders said “If we did lose any business through competition at the moment it would probably be 5% of nothing!” This is about priorities and collectively building a better market.

A Key Initiative In QVM’s 2019/20 Business Plan Could Be A Great Opportunity

There is lots of good stuff in QVM’s 2019/20 Business Plan. E-commerce and grocery delivery partnership, new Licensing & Leasing Framework, and adjusting trading hours are some of those, but the one that caught the eye of many was “Reviewing the layout of the Upper Market Open Sheds”.

Traders have been urging measures to correct the gaps in the Upper Market caused by departing traders. The retail recession is creating havoc in retail precincts worldwide and re-configuring our Upper market could be the perfect opportunity to make some improvements, restore the buzz necessary for good trading, introduce some entertainment elements, and prepare our market for the future.

We could use this opportunity to try some new layouts, maybe introducing more permanent structures, and perhaps experimenting with different stall formats that offer more flexibility.

The retail recession is causing retailers worldwide to reassess, experiment, and come up with better ways. QVM and its Traders have a great opportunity to do the same.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 22/9/2019

A Trader says it is so frustrating when there are reasonable crowds but very few customers come on to your stall.

Reports of plenty of diners at the first night of the Hawker Night Market, and some encouraging sales for new Specialty Merchandise Traders although a bit patchy out in String Bean Alley.

A Trader made an interesting observation about retail marketing – in strip shopping centres you are on your own – in Shopping Centres the landlord promotes the centre – at QVM the landlord promotes the market and individual Traders. And yes that is a compliment.

Apparently CEO Stan Liacos was out talking to Traders in the Upper Market on Friday. He suggested to one Trader that he needed to lift his game on stall presentation and the Trader agreed, making some immediate improvements.

Keeping a clear vista out in String Bean Alley is an obvious priority with one Trader asked to modify their veranda display so it didn’t block the view of other Traders.

Bad (but irresistible) Joke of the Week – Johnny took his new puppy to the vet. He asked “Why does he keep putting his head in the sink?” The vet said “ Well he is a plug!!!!”

A Trader says he is noticing that some retailers who feed him marketing material are going way up-market in their offers as they test out consumer sentiment in these difficult times.

Our photo shows a group of visitors lining up in a strange way in an aisle last week. Apparently they were on a cooking challenge involving a number of special tests around our market. One of the participants said “We were just a bit tired”. Another explained that they were from New Zealand and nothing more really needed to be said.

A customer at the Night Market said she was enjoying her visit but found it very hard to work out what some of the food stalls were actually selling. She wasn’t familiar with some of the food names and because the food was all prepared fresh (which was a good thing) there weren’t any dishes on display.

A Trader commented how a few extra buses up on Peel St. seem to make a big difference to crowd numbers (Sunday).