The quandary of trading hours at QVM reached the forefront again this week with conference delegates being bussed into the market at 8am and being disappointed at the number of stalls that had not yet opened for business.
As usual traders were responding to customer demand and these days, at least in the Upper Market, that means later starts. Of course the fresh food aisles were ready for business, but if visitors came to buy souvenirs, they would have been understandably disappointed. Later bus arrivals were fine.
There are a couple of ways that we can address this issue. And, let’s say first up that expecting fresh food and Specialty Merchandise to co-ordinate with their trading times is probably asking too much. So, advertising fixed opening and closing times for the whole is probably a big mistake, unless we make it perfectly clear in our advertising that different parts of the market operate differently.
Some overseas markets get around this by having different traders operating at different times and clearly advertising that on their website. Traders, even in the same category, will choose hours that suit them and co-ordinate with other traders to give a broad coverage for customers who turn up at different times.
The other option might be to have a market precinct that trades across the full spread of hours so that customers get an offer (even if somewhat reduced) whenever they turn up. In the Upper Market, String Bean Alley may be such an option.
It is part of the complex nature of markets that anomalies will exist between customer expectations and the operational realities for small business operators. Minimising that conflict with good communication and some smart operating decisions should be the aim for everyone at QVM.