General Merchandise as a category or precinct name has a chequered history and has sparked many debates.
Some years ago a group of traders in the Upper Market got sick of the “General” term claiming it was derogatory to their category because in fact many considered themselves specialists in specific products. In other words, not General Traders, but Specialty traders.
So the term “Specialty Merchandise” was developed as a substitute for General Merchandise and it has been championed by Victraders for some time. The theory is that most traders in the Upper Market specialise in a particular product or range of products. Most are experts in their field and can offer specialised advice to their customers. So the term “Special” is appropriate whether we are talking about the product or the knowledge of the trader. The same applies in our food areas.
The term Specialty Merchandise or Specialty Traders, has filtered into common usage and can be found in some high level documents relating to QVM planning and renewal. Yet, when the question was raised at the TRC last year they opted to retain the use of “General Merchandise”. Some would say that was consistent with the TRC’s reputation for resisting change in our market.
And just when you thought you had a handle on this there is another name proposal. Why not just call the Specialty Traders “Retail”, and the others “Food”. Yes, technically food (at least at QVM) is retail, but a publicly released QVM document from 2015 made the distinction between Food and Retail which seemed to make sense. It probably depends on who you are aiming your story at. The public may accept Food and Retail as sensible differentiations but within our market walls we may seek more definition.
What’s In a name? Well obviously in this case it is a confusion of identities that sparks much debate. If you want to add to the debate, particularly if you have a solution, we would love to hear from you.Have Your Say – click here.
Footnote: Here is how Wikipedia describes a Specialty Store -
A speciality (AE: specialty) store has a narrow marketing focus – either specializing on specific merchandise, such as toys, footwear, or clothing, or on a target audience, such as children, tourists, or plus-size women. Size of store varies – some speciality stores might be retail giants such as Toys "R" Us, Foot Locker, and The Body Shop, while others might be small, individual shops such as Nutters of Savile Row. Such stores, regardless of size, tend to have a greater depth of the specialist stock than general stores, and generally offer specialist product knowledge valued by the consumer. Pricing is usually not the priority when consumers are deciding upon a speciality store; factors such as branding image, selection choice, and purchasing assistance are seen as important. They differ from department stores and supermarkets which carry a wide range of merchandise.