Sunday 28 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 28/7/2019

This weekend’s Indian Festival was held at the top of A Shed which meant that organisers could operate over two days and leave their stalls set up overnight. On Sunday at least the crowd seemed to rival that of the Truffle Festival, and in typical Indian fashion there was a lot of noise and some great fragrances from the variety of foods. Another benefit of the A Shed location was that the festival was able to operate into the evening and some nearby QVM food outlets reported they were operating well past their normal closing time as they took advantage of the crowd.

A bit of history - An elderly customer was seen standing in a SBA stall on Wednesday night, staring up at the ceiling. He was there for some time, and Trader, Mary, was quite puzzled by his presence. It turns out his family used to have a String Bean stall many years ago and he was looking for their business name on the back of the gutter barge board. If you check our photo you can see that some of the names show through the paint. The elderly customer was a child at his parents stall so SBA goes back a long way. Mary's stall is called Retro Mamma, and she is pretty chuffed with the historical connection.

By the way – a whole aisle for string beans suggests they were a much more popular food than today.

The debate over proposed new trading hours has raised many conversations and much condemnation particularly over the proposed 5pm closure on weekends. One trader said she would like to see different times for the different seasons. She maintains that 5pm may be OK in summer but probably not in winter.

One of our stall setupperers/packdownerers (please help me with a better term – Ed) says that 5pm closing would be out of the question for him. He would tell his clients they will have to find someone else to work through dinner time.

One Trader wants to know what all the fuss is about. "The proposed hours only involve one extra hour of trade a week."

A customer walked into the Night Market with a very large white rabbit perched on his shoulder – yes, a rabbit. He was quickly asked to leave by security staff – something about unleashed animals in a public space. The customer and the rabbit refused to comment.

There are rumours of more containers to come to the Upper Market, most likely in the A-E Shed sector.

A Trader says that there is currently a major focus on experimentation in the retail industry and he would like to see more freedom for traders to try new ideas at QVM. 

Have Your Say - click here.

This Week's Big Issue At QVM

Well, there is no need to guess the hot topic under the sheds this week - proposed changes to trading hours have largely drawn negative responses from traders, particularly those who feel their home/family life will be compromised.

Of course the proposed hours are intended to correct another serious compromise forced on traders - reduced earnings caused by changed consumer preferences and extreme competition.

We know that some, maybe many,  traders will be unhappy with 5pm closing on Saturdays and Sundays. Some open stand traders will be lucky to leave their stalls before 7pm after packing up. By the time they get home, organise dinner............ well, you get the picture.

It is true that many of our fellow retailers out in traditional shops already cope with those sorts of hours. It is also true that clawing back some of our lost business may involve some change (read sacrificing current lifestyle).

But perhaps the biggest unknown is whether the later weekend trade will actually generate extra business. There is a graph showing peak weekend pedestrian times in the city (see below - the vertical redline is placed at 5pm) which seems to support later weekend trading but will that translate to business at QVM?

Interestingly, there appears to be little argument with 9-3 on weekdays (food is 7-3). One of our long term traders says she is prepared to consider 9-4 on weekends and she might have a few friends.

Have Your Say – click here.

Latest Retail News – 28/7/2019

Latest Retail News – 28/7/2019
1. Crabtree & Evelyn to return to Australia with new concept stores.
2. South Australia experiences record tourist spend.
3. David Jones cuts Head Office jobs.
4. Bunnings expands click’n’collect to Victoria.
5. Bankruptcy of luxury US department store, Barneys, puts focus on high rents (*).
6. Lamb prices reach record highs.
7. Coles launches homewares range in similar move to Aldi.
8. KFC launches first “drive through only” outlet in Newcastle.
9. More Lego stores to open across Australia.
10. Credit card use declines as “Buy now, pay later” trend booms.
11. Shoplifting is on the rise in Australia.
12. Retail wage under-payer claims award is simply too confusing.
13. Low or no-alcohol drinks booming according to UK report.
14. Luxury retailer, LVMH, says sales up 15%.
15. K-Mart opens NZ’s first 24/7 store.

QVM In The News - 28/7/2019 - Featuring A Number Of Traders

The pair mainly sold their garments online before opening their first bricks-and-mortar store at the Queen Victoria Market in June. “It's been a really ...
Damien, Geoff and Neil Prosser have been selling fresh seafood to the people of Melbourne from Queen Victoria Market (QVM) since 1931.
After Terence Port's parents immigrated to Melbourne from South Africa, their first business move was to set up a stall at Queen Victoria Market (QVM).
Queen Victoria Market (QVM) has unveiled Melbourne's newest laneway experience, with String Bean Alley officially opened on July 19.
By Sean Car. The City of Melbourne has welcomed a recommendation to extend heritage protections at the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) to include a ...

Consumer Sentiment – An Observation From One Of Our Traders

“Have you ever asked/wondered why on some days (usually bad ones) it looks like all potential customers seem like they got together and agreed to behave all in a similar manner, ie. disinterested, apathetic, fussy, negative etc...
I wonder whether this article I’ve just read might be a partial answer ( then throw in a dose of bad news, economic pressure, retail revolution etc etc etc )”

Below is a link to the article. It refers to contagious emotions, the way we mimic the emotions of those around us. And the scary bit is that our own emotions can be part of the contagious cycle. If we are feeling down and angry at customer attitudes it may transfer as negative feelings to positive customers as well.

Exhibiting a positive attitude at all times is one of the more difficult tasks for retailers like us.

Sunday 21 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 21/7/2019

A Trader wonders how much all the publicity surrounding the String Bean Alley launch would be worth if we had to pay for it – prime TV time and multiple newspaper coverage would come at a high price.

Publicity 2 - A Trader noted that Popular Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani was featured on The Project on Channel 10 on Thursday night, including video of him rocking at the Night Market Silent Disco on Wednesday night. Jobrani said "This winter market in Melbourne is amazing, and I love it."

Another Trader suggests that we should stop putting a price on our renewal. $250m scares the pants off most people. It sounds like an awful lot of money and suggests dramatic change at our market. He proposes that we just talk about CoM being prepared to invest what is needed to keep our market relevant to future generations - talk about the features of renewal, not the price.

The marketing scoop of the week goes to the eye photography people in SBA who not only got a mention from Lord Mayor, Sally Capp during her SBA launch speech, but also featured in the Channel 7 news report that evening.

Another scam has come to light with a trader receiving two online orders paid with PayPal. PayPal gives strong protection to buyers, allowing them to cancel payments after the sales event with no questions asked. In the case of these PayPal transactions, the buyer cancelled payment after the goods had been sent and then refused to answer their phone. They did it twice so clearly this was a scam. Credit card providers require the buyer to seek a refund from the seller.

A Trader asks who is going to air great quality Latin American music in our market now that Saul & Masha have stopped trading in J Shed.

A Trader asks if there are any spare jobs going at the Splat Ball stall. There are times in our market when he wants to throw something really hard and make a mess. It does look like good therapy.

Farewell Saul & Masha

We are going to miss their great stall display, their enthusiasm, their business acumen, and even the great Latin American music that pervaded their stall. But Masha & Saul promise they will be back to visit their friends at QVM on a regular basis following their retirement.

Have Your Say - click here.
22/7/2019 To Masha & Saul, 
All the very best of your retirement. A well deserve break. One of the original characters of QVM traders.
Ps: enjoy walking the pooch.
Regards Steve. ( O’La) hope that is right in Spanish.

Why My Website Has Its Limits

As a Market Trader I like to think I listen to all the advice around me, particularly advice about adopting the new ways of customer engagement - websites, digital communication, social media, and so on. The future lies in adopting new age ways of selling, right?

So it can be confusing when my customers don’t embrace those opportunities.

I have a web page (it has been operating for over 6 years now). It is basic, but simple to operate and is essentially an online catalog of my best selling lines. I am working with SBMS right now to inject some variety and interest with more product stories and history. I think that is a good move because discussions at my stall often revolve around those aspects.

The website does OK, it pays its way, and sometimes surprises with a string of orders. But a customer yesterday exemplified the reaction I get from online viewers.

This customer, from Queensland, said he had viewed my range online a few times. He decided to wait until his annual trip to Melbourne before purchasing. I asked him if he felt there was more I could do to the online presentation - better photos, videos, more descriptions or measurements, better delivery options? He said the website was adequate but there was no substitute for personal viewing. He pointed out that I was selling hand crafted decor items, not vegetable peelers.

This customer really enjoyed his shopping experience at my stall. He had done some research, roughly decided what he wanted, pre-planned his trip to fit in a market visit, spent 10 or 15 minutes examining my product options, and finally made a decision. Buying online was never going to substitute for that experience.

Having an online presence ticks lots of boxes. This customer may not have found out about me if I hadn't shown up in his google search. But in some product categories hands on viewing is always going to be the clincher and I guess that will apply to leather jackets, knitwear and a whole range of market products. And that’s great because dealing face to face with customers is a hell of a lot more fun than sticking photos on a website.

By Greg Smith

Have Your Say - click here.

Why Standard Trading Hours Could Be Wrong For QVM

Traders and customers maintain that standard trading hours would remove a lot of confusion at QVM and they are right, but applying standard hours could be detrimental to our business’s and trader’s leisure time and here is why it needs to be questioned.

How often do you hear traders express the view that we need fixed trading hours across our market so customers know when we are open. Customers are confused when told that the market is open from 6:00am and yet when they turn up they find that only applies to food - Specialty Merchandise Traders open much later. Equally, we trade to 5:00pm on a Friday, but in fact Specialty Merchandise closes at 3:00pm. It can be confusing.

Should that confusion be addressed? There are a number of factors to consider here:

1. QVM has clearly different precincts that serve different purposes and apply to different customer groups. A simple comparison might be between a local fresh food buyer out early in the morning with a strict timetable for a busy day, versus a leisurely tourist with no timetable and plenty of time to spare. The local wants early access to their shopping, say from 6:00am, while the tourist will rock up when they are ready, and experience suggests that is from 10:00am.

2. Consumers are more demanding in their shopping conveniences. Modern consumers want to shop across a much broader spread of hours than in the past. Retailers use to set the hours. Now consumers, with a little help from 24hr operators, expect to shop when they feel like it. 

3. QVM is focused on being a Market of Markets. That is our way of addressing the “at call” demand of consumers. Clearly, we cannot all be open 24/7 because most our businesses are smaller, family operated businesses and we need a life. However parts of our market can be open at different times, creating a broader spread of hours for consumers. The answer is to stagger trading so that there is always an offer for customers but not every trader is required to be on deck at all times. Different precincts of our market will operate at different times so that whenever a customer turns up at QVM they will not be disappointed. At least that is the theory.

The proposition here is that we will never be able to get standard trading hours across our market, and neither should we. To minimise confusion we need to find the explanation that works best for customer understanding and live with the inequities that modern market trading requires. 

It is all in the communication. As one trader tells his customers – “We are open every day except Monday but check the website.” 

By Greg Smith

Have Your Say - click here.

Media Scrum In Melbourne

You could be forgiven for thinking that our photo was taken at the Australian Open, Melbourne Cup, or some major celebrity event, but no, it was taken in Queen Victoria Market's String Bean Alley as Lord Mayor Sally Capp opened the final stage of SBA with its updated look and 12 new containers.

The official launch on Friday was covered by a variety of news outlets including Channel 7 with a feature in the evening TV news, and the Herald Sun. Below is the photo shot that attracted all that attention.

Thank you to Danielle of Spotty Dot for the photo of the media scrum.

Latest Retail News – 21/7/2019

Latest Retail News – 21/7/2019
1. David Jones enhances its loyalty program.
2. Arnott’s Biscuits included in Campbell’s sale of international portfolio to Ferrero.
3. Catch, Ebay, and others launch Prime style sales in competition with Amazon.
4. Myer links with “new lifestyle innovator”, Litmus Lab, in major stores.
5. Starbucks launches express service concept “Starbucks Now” in China.
6. Big W announces store closures.
7. Dominos puts plant based meats on the menu.
8. General Pants expands to NZ.

Articles Worth A Read:
Are Aussie shoppers fussed about delivery? -

The inexplicable decline in retail sales growth -

Australians are eating less bread but….. -

Big W’s one fatal mistake -

Tips on getting the most from Facebook advertisements -

QVM In The News - 21/7/2019

The first stage of a $250 million revamp of Melbourne's iconic Queen Victoria Market has officially been opened. Watch the video above.
Pickett will be bringing his Queen Victoria Market concept to terminal three, opening a second Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie in the former P. J. O'Brien's ...
From the people who brought us the MOMO festival, this event will see stalls inspired by countries across the world pop up at Queen Victoria Market ...

Sunday 14 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 14/7/2019

Only at the Night Market - It was 9:30 pm, bitterly cold, a hail storm hit the market, and not one customer left the food queue at an outside food venue. That is commitment.

A couple of traders contributed $120 to a Market Officer’s charity challenge and two of their mates decided to contribute as well - but their contribution was $121. Never miss a chance for one-upmanship.

Some discussion under the sheds followed this week’s TRC meeting particularly in relation to trading hours. The transition to 9am to 3pm for the Upper Market during week days was pretty much expected but 5pm closing on Saturday and Sunday raised a few questions, essentially "Why?".

A customer from overseas said he was delighted to rug up for Melbourne’s chilly winter on Saturday, but then found himself sun-baking in the full glare of the sun, all on the same day.

A few Traders have commented on how good L Shed looks with all the new tenants on the South (carpark) side nestling up against the recently decorated SBA containers. It may take a few weeks for the economics to play out, but if looks count, L Shed should see a boost in foot traffic.

A certain purveyor of fabulous soups and juices in String Bean Alley has suggested that the vacant roller door sheds at the top of the aisle could be turned into a museum with interactive displays of the old market, a mini cinema, and educational elements for tourists, schools, and special interest groups. Contemporary light and sound shows could create quite an attraction.

A Trader suggests that the few remaining single use plastic bags in our market seem to be dominated by one category of Traders - those selling street clothing.

A Trader thought he had seen it all until he viewed a Uber motor cycle driving along the centre walkway to deliver a meal at 3:05pm on Sunday. It raises a few questions – Is that safe? Was the delivery for a customer or a trader? Should the world’s best food market be offended that someone found it necessary to go outside our market for food?

15/7/2019 Plastic Bags - "Unfortunately its not only street clothing with plastic bags, it seems that a number of my fellow souvenirs traders and t- shirt traders can’t understand the new rule. We look a but foolish if this keeps happening.
You can’t advertise plastic free, when we aren’t . Please don’t comment that its only a few, I don’t want to hear excuses." - Drita McLennan 
Thanks Drita - Ed

15/7/2019 Hours - "So how many different sets of hours will we have now.?
It has already been proven that until 5pm in the deli hasn’t worked, so why push it.
What seems to escape the powers that be is that we are small businesses that are mostly operated by1-2 people. If we are expected to trade till 5, what work/life balance does that give. Go one step back, we need hours to be across the board in all areas. You may get  away with the fresh sections with early hours but in the upper market to have Stringbean Alley, Information hub and general merchandise all on different time, is why marketing can’t market us. 
All areas in the top end should trade the same.  If the people know that the market is open until 3 pm everyday, then they will remember.
Can I please see the surveys results that are been sprouted as the reasons for 5pm and the questions that were asked to get this time?
Will the rents go up ?
A better option would be a standard 4pm finish everyday." - Drita McLennan

Thanks Drita - some great points. There is some data on city shopping habits that may have influenced the 5pm close and I will see if I can find that - Ed.

Ed: 1215 15/7/2019
The answer to the question "Why is 5:00pm closing being proposed for Saturday and Sunday" may lie in this graphic showing CoM pedestrian counts in 2016.
The dotted red line shows hourly pedestrian counts on weekends and the vertical red line shows where a 5:00pm closing would intersect, obviously still within peak pedestrian times for the city.
Would this translate for the various QVM precincts on weekends?

Charity Begins At QVM

Are Traders competitive? The answer is obviously yes, but sometimes it shows up in unusual ways, even in charitable pursuits.

Market Officer Richard Shortt is raising funds for mental health through the Push Up Challenge. Richard plans to complete 3128 push-ups over coming weeks and is seeking online donations from the community including traders. A couple of traders pooled in to contribute $120, a very tidy sum. Two of their mates decided to donate as well and made their own contribution of $121. The Push Up Challenge is benefiting nicely from the competitive streak in Traders.

If you wish to donate to a very worthwhile cause you can go to Richard’s donation page - - and, no, you don’t have to make it $122. All donations are welcome.

Market Officer, Marcus McInnes, is also participating in the Push Up Challenge, and his page can be found here -

A number of traders have already committed to this cause and it raises the question of whether the market community should have a more formal on-going charity connection - expect more on this in coming weeks.

NOTE: The Push-Up Challenge is raising money to support headspace, National Youth Mental Health Organisation - An organisation working to strengthen the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians.
The Push-Up Challenge started in 2018 and aims to raise awareness of mental health in Australia. This year, The Push-Up Challenge highlights the devastating number of Australian lives lost to suicide in 2017. 3,128 push-ups for 3,128 lives lost to suicide.

Trader Scammed

A Trader has reported a clever online scam which has cost them thousands of dollars and should be a serious warning for all traders.

The scam started with a reasonably substantial email order for delivery overseas and payment in advance which was a reassuring start to a series of transactions. Goods were paid by credit card with a mail order transaction completed on the Trader’s EFTPOS machine.

Perhaps a little unusual was the request for the Trader to use a special carrier and pay the delivery fee direct to the carrier. The delivery fee and the cost of the goods were reimbursed via the EFTPOS machine on each occasion.

Well, it turned out that the credit cards were stolen and the bank finally took action, cancelling the payments, and leaving our Trader out of pocket on the goods supplied and the fees paid to the delivery company. The ordering company, and the delivery company were scam operators.

This all took place over a month or so and thousands of dollars were involved. To make matters worse the bank shut down the Trader’s EFTPOS facility and issued a bill for outstanding funds. Many Traders would assume that the bank (in this case the CBA) would cover fraudulent action but that is not always the case. Many Trader’s would also assume that the use of stolen cards would be discovered quickly by the banking system but this went on for some weeks.

The Trader’s advice is simple - always double check unusual transactions, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

"We have had this happen to us but didn’t supply the goods as it didn’t ring true.
A way to make sure that your payment are secure is to only accept payment through an online account. We use the Eway system.
Transaction are verified before goods are sent out. The first 5 transactions a month are free.
Anyone that wants to pay any other way is knocked back and its an absolute red flag if they want to use their only delivery. 
You need to be firm on how you operate your business and don’t let customers dictate the terms." - Drita McLennan 

Thanks Drita. Great advice. - Ed

Call For More Retail Stimulus Now

The passing of tax concessions by the senate was seen as an important step to putting money back in Australian consumers pockets and hopefully stimulating spending but one academic says more is needed.

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics at UNSW, says the Government needs to unleash all its tax savings right now rather than stagger them over the coming years. He believes that our economy is in dire need of stimulus if we are to avoid recession and all the economic and social ills that comes with it. 

He argues that the Government should abandon its political brand (a surplus at all costs) and introduce bold stimulus measures to protect our economic health.

Read the full article here -

Latest Retail News – 14/7/2019

Latest Retail News – 14/7/2019
1. Big W launch interactive catalogue with Snapchat.
2. Coles teams with Microsoft for data driven customer engagement.
3. Freedom Furniture launches creative new range of kid’s room furniture.
4. Dominos trials cashless stores and admits most business is done online.
5. Shoppers urged to spend their tax windfall in retail as a boost to economy.
6. Michael Hill’s underpayment of staff may cost it $25m.
7. Low consumer sentiment continues in June.
8. Aussie retailers need to catch up on “click and collect” transactions.
9. David Jones and Country Road to shrink store numbers.
10. Westfield Tuggerah introduces “quiet hour” for customers with dementia and autism.

QVM In The News - 14/7/2019

QVM Features on Postcards foodie program -

Celebrated Melbourne chef and restaurant owner Scott Pickett will open Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, bringing his Queen Victoria Market concept to the ...

Sunday 7 July 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 7/7/2019

A Trader sent us this photo taken after closing at the Night Market where clearly patrons have difficulty finding places to leave their food rubbish. The trader reckons if you stand still long enough you may end up becoming a target as well. The crowd on Wednesday night was certainly huge.

On a similar vein, we had a couple of complaints about congestion on Wednesday Night which may need some tweaking with crowd control, but certainly is a very nice problem to have.

A Trader says he listens intently to what his customers are asking for and attempts to meet their requests. With trends changing so quickly he reckons his customers will give him new pathways before he reads about them in trade magazines.

We’ve written elsewhere about Trader, David Kiper, and here he turns up again in a promotion sighted on one of our freeway overpasses.

Christmas at the market in July was featured on a Channel 10 morning show during the week including an on-air interview with Marketing Manager, Meg Dalla Lana, at Melbourne’s best Christmas shop, which is located within our market down on Elizabeth St.

A Trader asks if it is OK to growl at children who are mistreating stock in full view of their parents.

Traders are starting to move into L Shed in front of the newly decorated container shops.

A Trader was getting a lift home after a vehicle breakdown and the tow truck driver asked him if the Queen Victoria Market had re-opened yet. It seems that customer perception is difficult to shake following the untidy renewal debate a couple of years back.

And a little note about readership on Victraders – generally this Heard Under The Sheds article wins the readership poll every week but last week two other articles were more widely read – the report on the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards and the article about curating the gaps in the Upper Market.

Have Your Say – click here.

That's Not A Market, This Is A Market

The famous Crocodile Dundee line (That’s not a knife, this is a knife.) has inspired this comparison between the wannabe markets by the likes of Coles, Woolworths, IGA, and the real market - The Queen Vic Market.

The comparison is an idea from one of our long standing traders, David Kiper, and has been written about on these pages before, but it is said that a good idea bears repeating so let’s refresh the comparison.

That's not a market
This is a market.

That's not a market.
This Is A Market

That's not a market.
This is a market.

David intended that the “This is a market” line would be part of an advertising campaign with the final message directed to local consumers something like this - “Lee from Singapore, Omar from Dubai, and Anne from England all consider QVM one of the great markets of the world. Why aren’t you shopping at QVM?"