Wednesday 2 July 2014

Why Asking To Withdraw From Renewal Is Wrong - A Traders Comment

"Much has been written on this website about a petition doing the rounds asking for the State Government to withdraw its support for renewal at QVM. The petition has been variously credited to an un-named group of traders, a group called Save The Vic Market, Friends of the Market, the State Opposition, and even one of our box hire operators.

In all this confusion is it any wonder that we have difficulty knowing where we are heading? Many traders will tell you that it is difficult to look forward when there is so much fear about what impact the future will have on our businesses. It is easier to say “No” to change than to trust in the unknown. Management haven't helped much here by proposing an underground car park that will make business conditions worse for many traders, at least in the short term.

But are we failing to recognise where we are right now? As any good navigator knows, you cant get to there if you dont know where here is. Looking to an uncertain future may prevent us from considering the present and at QVM the present isn't very attractive. We are suffering very poor trading conditions and all areas of the market have identified serious decline. It is true that there is a global decline in retailing but that is of little comfort.

The way we do things hasn't changed a lot since last century although our customer expectations have certainly changed. Customers are openly criticising our offer and, we know in some cases that is an unreasonable attitude (take the debate over souvenirs), but it still exists. They say shopping here is inconvenient with too many aisles to walk past too many traders with the same offer. It is true that most of the blame for repetition lays with a management intent on filling revenue producing stalls without too much concern about what makes a good product mix. They do now appear keen to rectify that.

Customers say our traders are too hard to find when there are technological options to correct that. They say we don't trade in the hours they want to access us and we don't offer the conveniences that our competitors, including online, are providing. Traders are suffering as a consequence.

I will admit there is a significant difference of opinion about how far traders are really suffering. There are many traders, including those in our leadership group, who deny that traders are looking for change. I am going to take a stab that most of the deniers are older well-established traders with the resources and business strength to get through tough times. I am not sure that is true of the newer traders with young families and a mortgage. Only each individual trader can answer that question. Either way, I don't believe any trader believes that doing nothing is the answer.

So, the question becomes what do we need to do and what part does renewal play in achieving that? We need more customers and management seem to be believe that making QVM a more attractive and convenient place to shop with better recreation areas and an events centre is one way of achieving that. We need better facilities like weather protection in the top end and food handling facilities in the bottom end. Facilities require large injections of money which only something like a major renewal project can provide.

It is true that some important things can be done without a renewal. But, I believe there is a sound argument that a professionally managed and comprehensive over-riding project will produce better results than a piece meal approach where we try to plug holes.

I apologise for writing such a long article. My brain is now hurting. But I honestly believe there are far too many negative attitudes being expressed about our future. Management need to give serious attention to the negative aspects of what they are proposing but equally traders need to embrace their core obligation to be entrepreneurs adaptable to change. Rejecting change and asking to withdraw the renewal is not the answer."

 – Greg Smith

02/07/2014 21:39:46 change "Well said Greg... very well written . Agree totally with all points." Andy
04/07/2014 18:20:27 renewal talk I agree with you Greg, but I think its not that we don't all agree that we need change, our problem is that its doesn't seem to be a what's best for the market. A underground car park  will not work, you can spend as much money on consultant as you want and you still won't convince me or many other stall holders that it is a good idea. Are they even looking at other options?  
07/07/2014 14:38:56 Embrace Change "Embracing change for better of all is great. The QVM is well known for its critical mass and competiveness. Reducing its size, hence reducing stall holders on the other hand is not favourable. Most of the stall holders I speak to are not in favour of the current proposal. QVM management needs to provide assurances for the following and stalls holders will jump on board. * Assurance that stall holders will not be reduced. * After any temporary inconvenience of the renewal process that the stall holders return to their existing trading position.
* Rent increases 3% or less per year. Their is a reason for so much negativity and little to gain for stall holders. Stall holders need a better offer! By the way, younger stall holders with families have small mortgage repayments while established stall holders have HUGE mortgage repayments. " Bruce Pham