Thursday 17 May 2012

Is Our Market's Soul Being Destroyed? Re-visited

At our traders meeting with the Lord Mayor yesterday (7th May) an impassioned plea by one of our Fruit and Vegetables traders gained attention.
This trader talked about the grass roots of the QVM and the core element of family. He talked about the rigors of market life requiring great commitment and adaptive powers, both key strengths of a family structure.
Running your own stall is a process of commitment, pride, obligation to your family, and hopefully earning a reasonable income for your endeavours. As a business owner you make sacrifices in time and effort to achieve that result. The personal attention you give your customers reaps rewards in the form of income, and the satisfaction of a job well done. As the member of a family business, this is not just a job but a lifetime commitment.
 However, the focus on family principles has slowly but surely been eroded by leases and transferable licenses that set the business commitment to 6 years, instead of a lifetime. Add in the growth of multi-stall ownership requiring managers and you remove the personal touch which is just so critical to good customer service.
Corporatisation of our market makes it much easier to run the corporation. Many facets of the market become standardized, boxed-in, and regulated. But, in the process, are we destroying the essence of what makes us so special?

09/05/2012 23:53:06 "This is such a well written and truthful piece. I'm now a second generation trader taking over my mums stall. I could walk away from this and earn a lot more for a lot less work but I choose to stay as I am so proud of what my parents achieved here. They started in 1970 as the first ever jewellery stall. We were the first to sell opals and sterling silver charms.  Mum used to queue up at 430 in the morning to get a stall and sometimes she didn't get one so she'd ask other traders if she could use s bit of their table. Dad used to make a lot of the things we used to sell and that was done after hours at home and sometimes we'd help out so it is very much family orientated.
I grew up in the market and now my son is doing the same. It's one massive multicultural family for him with many aunties uncles and a special gran. The way things are currently going with all these licenses, I'm still on the old arrangement, I don't see a future for my son in the market or my self. In the old days all the traders used to band together and fight all the bullshit, now there is that much segregation and everyone on licenses is too scared to do anything for fear that their license may not be renewed.
Something needs to be done, it's a very special place and all of the families are starting to disappear, there aren't many places in the world where there is such a large concerntration of family owed and operated businesses." Right to the point

13/05/2012 06:45:41 On one hand my heart goes out to those that talk about the family aspect of the market, but on the other hand what I care about is feeding my family not having a family at the market, that is my business, my place of work. My friends and family are in my home, in my home town. Unfortunately, most of the traders that have been at the market have been there for generations and this is part of the biggest problem that we have. Stallholders have talked about how good the market was many years ago, and many years ago when there was no competition from weekend trading it didnt matter how bad or good the stallholders were at customers service, at product selection and merchandising. However, now we are in 2012 and all of those factors really matter and because no one has moved with the times, the market is dying, so its only the stallholders who have caused the death of its soul. Change is innevitable, nothing works if busienss owners dont move with the times, many stall holders also come from countries where once again customer service, product selection and merchandising doesnt matter. When was the last time stallholders looked at their product offering, went to trade fairs, followed trends? How can they expect to be competitive in the market when none  of this gets done? Do they really understand what the customer wants? its clear that cheap products and discouts is not the answer otherwise the market would be booming, so its all about product offering and customer service. There is no point trying to blame anyone, its about taking responsibility like a true adult and business owner would do, not like someone who has been run by a public school and the headmaster dictates. I believe the only way will be to privatise the market and get some business minded people running the market, after all it is a business and it should be run like a business, not like a family that it is not. I really love the multi-culturalism and the family owned busiensses, i really do, especially having grown up overseas myself in many 3rd world countries, but unless everyone moves with the times and does a total product and stall revamp and improves their customers service skills, they need to leave it to those that want to see change, want to improve, want to take responsibility and not leave it up to market management who clearly need to be leaving themselves (unless they do some serious training in how to manage a business). Lets all work together with the Mayor in deciding how to firstly change management and then work with the new management in improving the quality of stall holders, leading to great success !! everyone at this market should be making lots of money... it should be a happy place to work, everyone should be being joyous,, its a market for godness sake !!...  Market soul 

17/05/2012 I try to keep open debate on this website, but the above comment demands a response. The poster seems to think family business and progress are mutually exclusive. A well run family business will accommodate all aspects of moving with the times, updating product ranges and merchandising techniques and giving great customer service. The point is that a family business often adds the personal touch that enhances the customer experience and there are many fine examples at the Queen Victoria Market. Let’s not debase one of our finer attributes in the search for someone to blame for the current dilemma of retailing. - Ed

13/05/2012 08:11:24 I agree that multi-ownership of stalls is eroding the essence of the market.  Small business owners are always the most enthusiastic and pleasant to deal with.  Just the other day I walked past a stall to see a staff standing around playing with her phone, I wanted to buy something but decided not to because staff were not interested in me - people only buy from someone they like.