Sunday 3 June 2018

Editorial 2: Traders Need Some Structure

There is a major misunderstanding by the powers that are responsible for QVM that market traders are inherently flexible and don’t need stability or structure like larger businesses.

You see it in things like tenure. The Night Market can be a hit or miss option depending on the choice of organisers. Sometimes you get in, sometimes you don’t. String Bean Alley applicants have been warned that tenancies may only be for 12 months before they are asked to move out in favour of someone else.

It has never been clearly explained (at least not to this writer) why this attitude exists but presumably it has something to do with keeping the offer fresh. But given the impact on income and investment for those traders involved, the influence on business viability and planning can be major. A trader will quite rightly say that “If I have invested in a market activity, and kept up the standards outlined at the beginning, I should have some expectation of continuing.” It should be noted that shopping centres generally have a different way of refreshing. They encourage long term tenure subject to regular (each lease cycle) upgrading of shopfronts and internal fittings. They change the presentation, not the tenant.

On a very small scale, we recently had an issue with a casual trader who had spent one hour setting up her stall only to be asked to move because a neighbouring permanent trader had asked to spread. Did anybody realise how much work that involves? We make stall set up and pack up look easy but in reality it takes a lot of practise and hard work.

On a larger scale we have QVM Renewal and the debacle of on again/off again renewal arrangements. There are just so many uncertainties at present. What will the new CoM renewal proposal involve? Will we get containers in String Bean Alley? Will weather protection issues be addressed? When will we address hours of trading? When will we consolidate traders in the Upper Market? There are many parties responsible for all that uncertainty.

So what about structure? Every business needs a plan. Every business will allocate resources to meet expected outcomes. It is all a matter of scale. Take a couple of metres of stall space off a clothing trader and see the impact on his/her racking and display. Give a trader the opportunity to trade at the Night Market, invest in specialised merchandising facilities, earn a boost in business revenue, and then withdraw that option 6 months later. Tell traders to plan for long overdue market renewal and then get bogged down in too many voices, having too much to say, and nothing really happening. These are all examples of controllable issues that can be detrimental in varying degrees to any business no matter what size.

Yes, we are small businesses, and yes, we are inherently flexible, but please don’t use that against us because the other side of market trading is fragility and very tight financials. The message for all those involved in QVM - CoM, Heritage Victoria, State Government - is give us some structure, and surety. We are already battling a retail recession. If you seriously want us to continue contributing to this amazing city then we need more stability in our trading conditions. We need structure. 

By Greg Smith

Have Your Say - click here.

03/06/2018 19:19:12      Editorial 2: Traders Need Some Structure      "Where is a "LIKE" button? "           Mino Jlp
Consider it "liked". Thanks Mino. - Ed

04/06/2018 14:04:00      Traders need structure     "Yes we absolutely need structure every business operates with some level of structure. It can help cope and adjust to all kinds of senarois facing us in good or tough times.
Tenure is a perfect example.Try going to Bank for a loan and having no Lease or Licence agreement ?
Being relocated can take a period of adjustment especially if you rely on repeat custom for or your new stall is a third the size and your trying to promote /generate the same level of business.
If your comment about a casual trader having to pack and move so someone else can speed then we are traveling even further backwards.
When the first ideas of renewal were raised traders suggested 1000 car spaces,better weather proofing the sheds and KPI's to better understand market performance.None of witch featured in the final plans.
If we are to come up with a plan B we need to start from scratch and consider traders suggestions other wise traders will become even more disengaged than at present.( How many turn up to any meeting)and have little confidence for our future."
Thanks for your input - Ed.