Sunday 30 April 2017

Heard Under The Sheds -30/4/2017

The POD – Bruce Pham is doing a great job in the POD but a trader has suggested that perhaps the next resident could be someone with less technical expertise than Bruce. A more mainstream trader might give us another view of how the POD might enhance business. (In fact we need a few PODs don’t we? – Ed)

Anger At Double Standards – one of our market colleagues has pointed out that two of our box hire operators who wore red union shirts at Friday’s anti-renewal protest are also in secret discussions with management about how box hire might take advantage of renewal changes. Is that double standards or just hedging your bets?

Reaction To Protest Rally – apparently there has been an attempt by organisers to talk up the rally although the comments we have heard from traders include – “Disappointing”, “Embarassing”, and “If they had any real alternatives that would have been the time to air them.”

Paying Rent – Another Saturday and another long queue at the office. One trader said they were not aware that they could actually pay their rent at any bank.    Another suggested that QVM invoices could include a barcode that would allow payment at any Post Office. This trader pays most of his bills at the local Post Office.

Retail Plan – As usual not a big crowd turned up at Thursday’s after market briefing but this document is one that traders need to take a really good look at. One attendee told us that a slide showing a deli and a butcher on Victoria St. caught his eye. These are just concepts for discussion but the options for 7 day trading on the outside of the market (while the rest of us get to lead a normal life) makes a lot of sense. The next briefing is Tuesday 2nd May at the Engagement Hub – 3:30-4:30.

What’s Next? – one trader commented on Saturday - “Well, we’ve had our protest rally. Now, can we actually start moving forward and getting things done around here?”

Never Miss A Photo Opportunity – a visit from Board members Jane Fenton and Patrick Burroughs was a great photo opportunity for this trader.

Betty Looks Great In Red – Betty Jennings donned a red union T-shirt and cap as a bit of a lark on Saturday but refused to leave it on long enough for a photo. There is something incongruous about an independent, hard-nosed entrepreneur in a union uniform.

Latest Retail News – 30/4/2017

Latest Retail News – 30/4/2017
1. Shaver Shop raises guidance and shares soar.
2. Kogan upgrades earnings forecast again.
3. Institutional investors purchase luxury shopping precinct St.Collins Lane in Collins St. Melbourne.
4. Debenhams considers leaving “non-core” international markets as profit drops.
5. Italian luxury group Furla buys back its Australian distribution network.
6. French luxury empire LVMH buys Dior fashion group.
7. British luxury fashion retailer, Jimmy Choo, seeks buyer.
8. Gloria Jean closes its last store in Vietnam.
9. Coca-Cola confirms 20% drop in profit.
10. McDonalds reports 4% rise in global sales for first quarter.

An Exciting Time To Be In Retailing

We published an article under this heading a week or two ago but one of our traders had been thinking about the concept and wanted to elaborate.

He says that this is a unique time. We are in the early stages of a retail revolution and this is where opportunities are created. The successful retailers of the future are being created right now and those that are prepared to work hard and be innovative are likely to prosper.

When Walmart and Sears Roebuck threw the old retailing rules out the window and created a new way there was mayhem. Traditional retailers went broke and a whole new phase started. We are at one of those stages in history right now and Amazon is probably the leader in change. But change creates many opportunities and the innovators come from many different backgrounds, even retail markets.

Thanks for the inspiring philosophy ”Jim”.

Mr Wynne's Decision May Have Just Become A Little Easier

Traders are anxiously waiting on a couple of planning decisions from Victoria's Planning Minister, Mr Richard Wynne so that we can start moving forward on at least some aspects of renewal. Maybe a difficult decision for Mr. Wynne has just become a little easier.

One of Mr Wynne's concerns was that the planned renewal had few friends, well, as it turns out, the protest group that organised a rally at the market on Friday probably has even fewer. After much publicity and hype and with all the big guns being called out (Phil Cleary, Friends of the Market, and the National Union of Workers) Friday's rally attracted as few as 40 people (according to 3AW radio), "up to 150" (from a couple of observers), and "exactly 87" (from someone who took a photo and counted the heads). That was an eye-opener for many observers.

One of the other aspects of this debate has been the interference from celebrities and although Sigrid Thornton has some credentials as a market customer it is difficult to understand why ex-Prime Minister, Paul Keating, had his say on Melbourne radio on Friday. According to a tweet from ex city councillor, Stephen Mayne, Keating and Cleary were mates in parliament, so maybe that explains his involvement.

But this is all getting a little too political and the intrigue is perhaps best left to "Days of Our Lives" supporters. Traders desperately want to get on with addressing a number of issues at our market as we respond to the big issue of a global retail recession. As one trader said, "It is time we got on the bike and started peddling."

Whatever variation exists in trader sentiment, it is clear that most traders want some form of progress. QVM's Retail Plan was launched this week and maybe it has come at just the right time. If Mr Wynne can also join the party, traders and customers may be able to look to the future with some confidence.

Thursday 27 April 2017

Trader Comments - 27/4/2017

The following comments have been received following our article - Interfering Could Cost Us Our Market.

29/04/2017 22:54:15      Market Protest rally          "With more than 2000 members of Friends of QVM, more than 500 traders, thousands of regular market shoppers and the support of the unions, ex Prime Ministers and celebrity actors, all that could be mustered at Friday's "Save the Market" protest was about 150 people. Maybe people will now realise there is a silent majority that hope we can just get on with renewing the market  and securing its future for generations to come. "    A real friend of QVM

27/04/2017 19:14:21      Interfering Could Cost us our Market  "The Save QVM group (foqvm) has proven to be the Stifle QVM group. A lot of what they have said on their Facebook page has been quite distressing for some of my customers, especially given that a lot of the time they have twisted or even completely skewed the truth. 
There are so many perversions of the truth on their page but their latest attack on the pod in c shed has hit a sore point with me.  Using a picture of the pod when locked up was clearly a deliberate tactic to make the installation look as unattractive as possible - when the page owner is a shopper who sees it open during trading hours.  The language of the post was also directed to convince people that multiple pods had been installed on site, despite there only being the one unit currently.

What is the greatest pity of this? When open Bruce's display looked fantastic - his use of the pod really let his products take centre stage and elevated them to another level.  I'd also like to congratulate Bruce on being willing to take the risk and trial something innovative like the Pod."

27/4/2017 13:24 Interfering.... "On the one hand we (the traders) have limited facts and information around the all important details of so much of the renewal that other than an in principle acknowledgement that the market needs serious attention and intervention, it's hard to make any considered informed statements on any specific issue. On the other hand we have either wilful or emotive misinformation/disinformation published by an 'anti-renewal' group of people intent on either manipulating and politicizing the issues or being used to accomplish that end.
What is certain are the uncertainties the future brings. Many traders are fearful that renewal works can only add to the uncertainty. And that is the main reason that the 'anti renewal' message sounds alluring to an undefined number of traders ( it must be said however that a significant number of traders give in principle support to 'the renewal' notwithstanding waiting on the all important detail mentioned above, the majority are wary, a vocal minority have presumed to speak for all).
For some regular customers, the fear is to lose what is familiar. For conspiracy theorists, it's just great to have something to fear.
As always there is something for everyone at the Queen Victoria Market.

But all jokes aside, if there is one thing the market can no longer afford it's inaction and neglect. Any proposal or action will have detractors, one can only hope that in the end the true interests of the Market will win out and not misinformation, fear, politics and self interest which unfortunately seem to be the current drivers behind many who 'oppose' or speak against the renewal." - Ivano

28/04/2017 08:56:26 Interfering could cost our Market "This seems to be only Your   opinion."    Albert  Renwood  E Shed

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Interfering Could Cost Us Our Market

Sometimes it is necessary to be blunt in commenting on an important issue and the attempts by “interferers” to derail justifiable investment in our market smacks of a compromise that could endanger the market's future. 

            The latest propaganda by the anti market renewal, anti city hall, (well, anti a lot of things) lobby is to put actress Sigrid Thornton up as an expert on QVM market investment. Why we should listen to this “regular market customer” more than other participants in the debate is difficult to understand. In fact you can extend that list of questionable opinions to wannabe politicians, casual academics, (casual in the sense that they don’t have the same vested interest as real traders) and even market operators who are just looking after their own business interests and don’t have a more extended view of what is best for all traders at QVM.

            Apparently Thornton has expressed concerns at "the skyscraper property deal". But, seriously, who cares about Munro’s being a property deal? The current Munro site has little if any merit. The Munro proposal will provide a building that better enhances our market with its red brick fa├žade,  lane way format, and intended use. Traders generally seem impressed by the proposal. Yes, it has a high-rise, but that is important for the overall business case and if done successfully will help finance essential improvements at QVM.

"Traders with management"

            Traders have a right to be unashamedly parochial on renewal. This is business, and this is a matter for traders and management. We are the key ingredients in a city identity that evokes emotional responses in a whole range of people. We get that…but addressing years of neglect and overcoming a global retail revolution requires intense focus by the experts – traders with management.

            I honestly don’t believe that the majority of traders support the anti-renewal philosophy. We traders know that something special needs to be done about the decline of our market. We have been crying out for investment for years, and now it is here, it would be crazy to support watered down compromises (I don’t recall any genuinely innovative suggestions from the anti group).
In any case what massive destruction is being proposed for renewal? The market is pretty much going to look as it has always looked although the car park will become a pedestrian park. The market will still be dominated by small businesses doing what they do best (personally ensuring that customers get service excellence). But achieving that excellence, and competing with a whole range of very competent competitors, will require better facilities – power, water, refrigeration, cleanliness, technology, stock handling, customer services, and so on. And they are areas that we have lost ground on or, in some cases, never really had.

It is important that we get this right. And getting it right is unlikely to include compromises for those who are cynical of change. One of the definitions of compromise is "the expedient acceptance of standards that are lower than is desirable." QVM deserves better than that.

Change can be a frightening prospect. Even the cleverest and most confident in this debate acknowledge that there are unknowns. But keeping the right people (traders with management) focussed on the right problems (addressing real business needs at QVM) will give us the best chance of success. The rest is just a distraction.

By Greg Smith

QVM In The News - 25/4/2017

ACTOR Sigrid Thornton has launched a savage attack on plans for the $250 million Queen Victoria Market, sparking the fury of Lord Mayor Robert ...

Sunday 23 April 2017

Looking For Signs Of Stress

One of our traders passed away unexpectedly this week and his family asked that instead of flowers donations be made to Beyond Blue, the Australian organisation that addresses depression, anxiety disorders and related mental disorders.

We are not drawing any conclusions from the family’s request, there could be lots of reasons for it, but it does cause us to consider whether more needs to be done amongst QVM Traders to address mental health issues.

We are currently in a very stressful environment. We have a retail revolution that is causing great uncertainty worldwide. Closer to home we are going through a market renewal during which there will be many uncertainties including things like a shrinking market, lack of tenancy, and a range of changes to the way we conduct business, and our lives.

We don't need to over react to this possibility, and finding others to blame has little merit. But if traders are aware of the possibility of stress in our own work environment and with our market neighbours then maybe there are simple things we can do. RUOK is a good start.

Asking your neighbours if they are OK is a good way of opening doors and listening. If there are warning signs then the right action can be taken. Contacting BeyondBlue might also be a good start. 

And maybe this is just the start of a bigger conversation.

By Greg Smith.

QVM POD Update - After 2 Weeks

Trader, Bruce Pham, believes he has the new POD display in C Shed pretty much right after two weeks of experimentation, and he has given us a bit of insight including how sales are going.

Bruce says he was surprised at how difficult it was to set up a new type of display. He was keen to keep the new facility "pure", and not use any of his old fittings from other stalls (Bruce's family operate other stalls in the market). He already had some modern display signs to identify his business and they fitted in well. He also engaged a merchandiser to help set up displays and make the most of a more professional setting.

Some Key Changes -
Setting up and packing down times - Bruce finds he can set up in about 25 minutes and pack down in 10 minutes (I can hear a collective sigh from traders reading this article - Ed). When asked if would change any aspect of the design, Bruce said he would put some fittings on wheels to simplify the process further.
Customer attitudes - Bruce finds customers are more respectful and less likely to demand discounts at the POD. A similar reaction was found by traders who moved to String Bean Alley.
Cleanliness - Bruce can now put out pure white socks without fear of soiling.

Bruce has set up a TV display in a prominent position and screens an excellent video about sock making and design, which has already gained thousands of views on social media. He is also screening other videos and photos relating to his business, and customers do stand and watch.

Sales - Bruce says sales from the POD are already nearing the sales of his family's other stalls and on one Saturday, the POD had the highest sales. Given its position in "one of the worst aisles in the market", he thinks that is a pretty good result.

We appreciate Bruce's willingness to share his experiences in the POD. 

Lord Mayor Brings QVM Heritage Listing A Step Closer

If you have been reading propaganda from certain quarters lately you could be forgiven for thinking that the City of Melbourne wants to destroy the Queen Victoria Market.

In fact, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle set up the process for renewal back in 2012, and then announced the intention to seek protection for the market through a world heritage listing in 2013. 

He has now joined with the Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, to take an important step in the heritage process. Last Friday they asked the National Heritage Council to place the market on the register of the country's most important heritage sites. According to the Herald-Sun “The move would ensure the historical elements of the site would not be demolished by a future state government.

Let's hope this is just the first step in getting formal national and international recognition for our wonderful market and helps to safeguard its existence for future generations. 

Cheap Parking Comes At A Cost.

The introduction of a free first hour/ $5 second hour car parking fee structure at QVM seems to have worked with reports that customer churn figures show significant improvement. Trader observations over Easter certainly seemed to confirm that. But attracting more customers has its price with a significant reduction in car park income that could impact on market services in the future.

It doesn't take Einstein to realise that a $12 fee for 2 hours parking changing to a $5 fee for the same period (or even less if customers leave within the first hour) is going to reduce income by many thousands of dollars. Add in the fact that more people are sticking to the 2 hour limit, and the impact is significant.

We can argue about the appropriateness of charging parking fees in the first place, particularly given the fact that suburban shopping centres are largely fee free (although that is changing). Of course we are not a shopping centre (sorry, had to throw that in) and we do co-exist with some exorbitant CBD parking rates. 

The fees charged at QVM are part of revenue used to pay for things like improvements to facilities and marketing. In fact one of our traders suggested this week that QVM should be promoting the car park "fee" as a protection for future generations. You know the sort of thing "Your car parking fee goes to improving our market."- a bit of marketing hype but it has some validity. 

You can put this discussion under the category of "What have they ever done for us?" Well, in this case, management action has put more customers in our car park. It comes at a cost, but Traders will welcome any boost to customer flow and making QVM a more attractive shopping destination.

Have Your Say – click here.

QVM In The News - 21/4/2017


SYDNEY, April 21 (Xinhua) -- A campaign has been launched to protect Melbourne's iconic Queen Victoria Market by having it placed on Australia's ...
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... will be holding a media doorstop this morning to ask the Australian Heritage Council to add the Queen Victoria Market to its National Heritage List.

MELBOURNE'S Queen Victoria Market could be placed on Australia's National Heritage List — ensuring its iconic facade would be protected in any ...

Latest Retail News - 23/4/2017

Latest Retail News – 23/4/2017
1. Myer rescues Marcs and David Lawrence from liquidation.
2. Pie Face bakery chain purchased by United Petroleum.
3. Woolworths abandons 99c for rounded prices.
4. Prada’s full year sales to end January drop 10.4%.
5. Country Road launches new supply chain technology.
6. Only 7% of fashion companies know where their cotton comes from.
7. Uniqlo parent company’s profits soar 80% in March quarter.
8. Ebay threatens to block Australian sales if GST on imports goes ahead.
9. Woolworths wins its fight with Lowes over Masters exit.
10. Shaver Shop lifts profit predictions after strong March.
11. Coca Cola shares drop nearly 10% on profit warning.

Heard Under The Sheds – 23/4/2017

Sad News on the passing of trader Ryland de Hoedt. Ryland traded in opal and gold jewellery under the name Bogart Opals and was well-respected by traders for his professional manner.

TRC – The Trader Representative Committee has apparently been busy with more meetings, the latest to consider the QVM Retail Plan which will be revealed to traders next Thursday at 3:30 in the Engagement Hub.

New Trader Representatives: Congratulations to Rocco Tripodi, Iris Zhang, and Gianni Persini for putting up their hands as representatives.

More Music – a couple of traders have commented on the increased number of traders playing music at their stall. Perhaps all part of creating the right atmosphere or just that portable music systems are so affordable now?

QVM Trader Gets Creative

If we were a bit more tabloid we could have used the heading "QVM Trader Achieves Burning Ambition" because this article is about resident wood-burner Michael Williams.

Michael is doing what many traders should be doing - constantly evaluating his trading circumstances and adjusting to meet consumer demand. Michael has been a bit of a gypsy with his attendance at a variety if Melbourne and regional markets although he is now concentrating more on establishing his presence at QVM.

And he operates in a category that many would say is under represented at our market. He is a craftsperson and he offers a very individual product that cannot be found on every street corner.

But it is not just about establishing location, Michael is also working out he can offer more services, compete with more industrialised processes, and become more profitable. He recently invested in a bit of modern technology in the form of a laser engraver. Using a laser to handle some of the more standardised, laborious and less profitable aspects of his range at the workshop allows him to devote his significant craft skills to the more personalised (and usually more profitable products) on site at his stall. He is already working out how to set up his stall to display more stock

In a time of retail flux (we are certainly in that right now) traders need to think outside the square and constantly search for new ways to develop business. Traders like Michael certainly appear to be on the right track.

Buoyant Easter Trade At QVM

Reports of trade at QVM over Easter have been encouraging with most categories reporting improved business.

With Easter and Greek Easter coinciding this year and some good weather the conditions were right for traders across the market. There were reports of higher than average sales over previous years and one of our Specialty Merchandise traders was still trading at 5:30pm on Sunday. Customers wouldn't let him pack up.

On the weekend we published a photo of a big crowd in K Shed on Saturday. Good trading requires more than just crowds. It requires customers willing to pull out their wallets and spend, but there seemed to be quite a few traders enjoying that experience this Easter.

We have reports that the market car park experienced higher than average turnover as customers took advantage of the free first hour and $5 second hour for some very cheap parking. Even Sunday was comparatively busy in the car park.

Let's hope these encouraging signs continue to populate the trading experience at QVM. We certainly need it.

The Most Important Precinct In Our Market

Specialty Merchandise Traders will get a chuckle out of this review on Trip Advisor last month.

“Half day at least.”
Reviewed todayNEW
“Great massive market selling all sorts of things, if your there to pick up the souvenirs to take home or just need some extra cheap clothes this is a must do, there is also a food market attached if you need any provisions and there are plenty of food eatery's to chose from.
The free tram network stops just out side and local buses.”

Specialty Merchandise us often seen as a poor cousin to food but not according to this reviewer. Clearly he sees food as an "attachment" to the main game which is souvenirs and clothing. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

Sunday 16 April 2017

Heard Under The Sheds - 16/4/2017

Angst over rent payment queues – apparently a combination of a shorter trading week and a busy easter has created excess demand for our dwindling cashier service and long queues at the office.  On the other side of the coin, a number of traders have praised the new online invoicing system and said they found it easy to adjust to a new method of payment.

Big Crowd But.... – our photo was taken in K Shed at around 11:00am on Easter Saturday and as you can see the numbers were quite impressive. Traders reported that business wasn’t great in the morning but a brief rush after midday had many traders happy with the result.

US Holidays. A couple of traders have recently returned from holidays in the US and admit to feeling refreshed by the experience. America may have its share of troubles but their can-do attitude, at least in retail, was seen as very positive.
One trader visited a flea market where a stall sold Ferraris – not toys, the real thing. He asked the market organisers what he had to do to get a stall and they said just turn up in the morning. He asked if they wanted to know what he was selling and they said “No, just turn up”. And when asked “what about two stalls?” he was told “Well, that will cost you twice as much” – sounds easy.

Night Market – apparently management held meetings with both food and specialty merchandise traders during the week to discuss the 2016/17 Night market season and what needed to be done for next season to ensure ongoing success. Visitor data and consumer research data was shared with traders as part of the discussion. Nice to see some information sharing.

Trader Representative Committee – some brief feedback at last in this weekend’s Trader Bulletin on the activities of the Trader Representative Committee including the very interesting prospect of a compensation fund for traders during renewal. We look forward to more detail on that one.

A Great Time To Be In Retailing

With all this talk about retail armageddon and apocalypse you would be forgiven for thinking that retail was dead but the reverse is true. Change like what we are currently experiencing brings with it opportunity, and the successful market traders of the future are being created right now.

There are a number of ways that market traders can prepare for the future and although none of them are likely to happen by standing still, these ways are not all that difficult.

Innovation - keeping a fresh mind on opportunities is a great way to excite customers and sometimes it involves sticking with the tried and true.
UK's retail icon, Selfridges, has just introduced a brand new cooking class for its customers and it involves, wait for it, ....... potato peeling! Yes, Selfridges are teaching their new age customers the grand old art of peeling potatoes. 

Customers who have never peeled potatoes in their lives are finding it a very comforting experience. Spice grinding and tea making are reportedly next on the agenda.
One of the joys of retailing is experimentation and finding new ways of entertaining customers is just a "think outside the square" mindset away.

Personalising- it might be a mini trend but personalising your products with printing, embroidery, or stick on letters is a feature of many of our new trader offerings. Inexpensive technology is available for a wide range of do it yourself personalising and if that is what turns your everyday product into a one-off exclusive, then it is certainly worth a look. Foil printing on leather, engraving, embroidery, and alphabet jewellery are all options for traders.

Food - the new discretionary spending in retail involves food. Customers who used to spend a few dollars on clothing or knick knacks are now joining the "coffee and cake" culture.
And the statistics are overwhelming. Ibisworld reports that restaurants are growing at 5.6% per annum and cafes and coffee shops at a whopping 7% per annum. Roy Morgan Research recently reported that the "cafe culture" is on the rise with nearly 60% of Australians 14 years and over visiting a cafe at least once in a 3 month period. More people are going to pubs for food rather than just drink. Intermedia reported late last year that Australian households spend nearly $100 per household per week eating out.
And the trend is global. The Guardian UK reported this month - "Separate figures from Visa show a modest rise in household spending in March, with the increase of 1% year on year slightly below February’s figure of 1.6%. However, while spending on household goods, and clothing and footwear was down, spending on recreation and culture was up by 7.2%, while hotels saw a 4% boost."

Food is comparatively inexpensive, social, trendy and fun so it becomes a great replacement for buying an item of clothing or a knick knack for the house. For many struggling General Merchandise Traders it is a shame that transitioning from shoes to sushi is not a simple process but food is certainly a growth opportunity.

Online - traders are probably sick of being told to go online but this really is quite a simple process and apart from some regular stock control maintenance, websites can pretty much look after themselves. Sites like Weebly, Go Daddy, and Wix offer simple do it yourself setups and potentially complex processes like customer payment options are handled automatically. You can experiment to your hearts content without committing to payment so why not give it a try. Many retailers have surprised themselves with their web building results. Multi channel retailing is not just a buzzword. It is achievable by all traders.

Marketing - social media means that marketing has never been easier for market traders and the best part is you can do it for free. Photographs and videos can be created by every trader with a smartphone and don't worry about getting traction. It is amazing how your group of friends on Facebook or Instagram can expand into thousands of views with an interesting post and a little sharing. And of course the huge reach of QVM Facebook is available to all traders.

Take A Holiday - thus may sound like strange advice but there is nothing like a good holiday to clear the mind, aid focus, and set you in a path of retail enlightenment. And if your holiday is in a retail Mecca that could just aid the process. Two market traders who recently returned from extended holidays in the US say they have come back with renewed vigour and focus. Retail woes are global but one trader said that the positive responses, and the "can do" attitude, seen in the US was an eye-opener.

There are plenty of opportunities for traders to prepare for the next stage of their retail career. Like we said, it is unlikely to happen while standing still, but the methods are not as frightening as they look and besides "fortune favours the brave". Good luck!