Sunday 25 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 25/8/2019

From our joking Trader – “A farmer goes to the Royal Show and bumps into a chicken. They strike up a conversation and the farmer asks what the chicken is doing there. The chicken says “I’m a judge.” “What, in poultry?” says the farmer. “Yes, of course in poultry. I’m considered an eggspert.”

It was early Saturday morning and a Trader was seen in the car park leaning against his car. He was asked if he needed any help. “No”, he replied. “I’ve just checked inside the market and the huge number of vacancies has me wondering if it is worth setting up.” He did and it wasn’t. And no, that is not a joke.

One of our Traders attended the Boomers/USA basketball match on Thursday night and says the media has gone haywire with their criticism. He found the game an absolute hit with great quality basketball, great entertainment and a very worthwhile event.

A Trader is asking where all the tourists have gone. The tourism stats in last week’s Trader’s Bulletin confirmed that interstate visitation was down but apart from what she described as “$5 T-shirt buyers” there appears to be a remarkable absence of overseas tourists. Maybe that is because our hotels are full of basketball fans this weekend?

Back in 1981, Billy Field released a very successful song in Australia called “You Weren’t In Love With Me” which contained the lyrics “Blind Freddy knew that, a blind man could see, I was in love with you, but you weren't in love with me.” On Saturday morning Traders in L Shed were treated to a singalong of that song by crooners Guru Pete and Michael Mallon, and maybe, just maybe, a cover is in the offering.

A Trader said that Friday was one of those days when the longest discussion he had with a customer involved directions to the nearest ATM.

A member of staff has suggested that every Trader could be given a handbell to ring after each sale. It would certainly create some theatre and buzz around the market. We know of a chain of restaurants that gets customers to ring a bell as they leave, so the idea has been around.

A Trader has suggested that a pop-up basketball gear stall may have been a good idea over the weekend to take advantage of all the fans in Melbourne for the big Boomers v USA match. 

A Trader asks when our new trading hours will come into operation and the answer is that a date will be advised as soon as discussions with individual leaseholders are completed which is expected to take a couple of weeks.

The wife of one of our many husband/wife teams at QVM was asked if she was going to give hubby a day off for Father’s Day next Sunday. Her response left little room for doubt - “Fat chance”.

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Entertaining The Customer

Traders Demand A Wage Rise

Traders are demanding a wage rise, not for themselves, but for the millions of Australian workers who are suffering very poor wage growth, and the idea has support from high up in government circles.

“My view is that a further pick-up in wages growth is both affordable and desirable.”- RBA Governor Philip Lowe

The Reserve Bank Governor, Phillip Lowe, has warned of the dangers of low wages growth and the inability to reach adequate inflation figures as we struggle to control our economy.

Wages growth nationally, which averaged closer to 4 per cent prior to 2008, has now been at or below 2.5 per cent for almost five years.

According to the ABC, “The low wage outcomes are a big factor in the RBA continually undershooting its inflation target. It also puts a brake on household consumption and ultimately the entire economy.” And further commented – “While the RBA's cuts to its GDP growth and unemployment forecasts last week gained most attention, household consumption growth was also pruned back from 2 per cent this year to just 1.5 per cent — not exactly great news for struggling retailers.”

The expectation is that wages growth will give consumers more buying power and stimulate the economy. If that happens, Trader’s own wages might see a boost.

RMIT Interns Making Real Improvements to Trader’s Website

Our photo shows RMIT Interns Shantelle-Ann (L) and Christian (R) who are assisting Trader, Greg Smith, update his business website through the QVM - SBMS mentoring program.

Shantelle-Ann is a Journalist and she is working on stories to better inform viewers and customers. She is compiling questions related to key aspects of the business and then researching responses which will be added to a blog component on the website. Stories will involve products that perhaps are not fully understood by the public but have interesting history, uses, and benefits. The idea is to inform and entertain, and generally make the website more attractive to potential customers.

Christian is skilled in web development and he is upgrading a rather old fashioned website presentation into something more dynamic, more interesting, and easier for customers to navigate. His aim is to keep it simple (not too many products to confuse customers) but essentially to make it easier to navigate the site, make a choice, and press that all-important “buy” button or alternatively direct customers to the market.

This liaison with RMIT interns and students is part of the QVM-SBMS mentoring program to assist Traders through retail change at QVM.

By Greg Smith

Latest Retail News – 25/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 25/8/2019
1. Ikea commits to smart home products.
2. Private label boosts Kogan profit.
3. Beacon Lighting misses profit forecasts.
4. Vinomofo launches on-demand wine delivery with Deliveroo and UberEats.
5. Domino’s profit falls.
6. Lego announces first Victorian store at Westfield Doncaster.
7. Coles profit drops but online and own-brand show promise.
8. Reject Shop posts $16.9m loss in FY2019.
9. David Jones launches new womenswear range.
10. Flight Centre says Australian travel market flat.

QVM In The News - 25/8/2019

In its second year, Hawker 88 Night Market is bringing Asian street food back to Queen Victoria Market. On Wednesday nights this spring, more than ...
The pair initially sold their garments online before opening their first bricks-and-mortar store at the Queen Victoria Market in June this year. The shop ...
If you haven't heard yet, there's a new kid on the block at the Queen Victoria Market. String Bean Alley is Melbourne's newest laneway, lined by ...
Hawker 88 Night Market
The Hawker 88 Night Market brings the sights, sounds and tastes of Asia to Queen Vic Market this spring.
After trading for over 140 years, Melbourne's landmark Queen Victoria Markets (QVM) is making an effort to encourage new and existing customers by ...

Sunday 18 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 18/8/2019

Following our article a couple of weeks back about sourcing goods overseas, one of our Traders reports that he was forced to go to China to source some key products when local suppliers stopped importing. The local suppliers were responding to the general downturn in business, and by-passing them to go direct to the source has worked out well for this Trader.

There is a rumour that the Summer Night Market footprint may not include F Shed Traders this year. Keeping the Night Market full and busy adds to a successful atmosphere but it would be unfortunate if fewer Traders were exposed to the Night Market opportunity.

The media reaction to our new food delivery service has been huge with multiple articles across the traditional and social media spectrum. One Trader observes that there is now equally huge pressure to get this right. He hopes the Traders who participate are well prepared.

With seemingly bad news on TV and in the papers all the time at the moment, one of our Traders says he has a new daily resolution – get all his customers to leave with a smile.

You will be pleased to know that Spring is in the air according to one of our market experts. Guru Pete says the bees have started buzzing around the planter boxes and Pete is always right.

Apparently a group of Traders have incorporated “Chocolate Day” into their working week. They take it in turns to buy and share a couple of blocks from the Melbourne Cocoa Company in String Bean Alley.

And to the Trader who said we wouldn’t publish his joke – “What vehicle does a sheep drive – a utility.”

A Trader says the news in the latest Trader Bulletin that Chinese tourists are now more likely to shop individually instead of through shopping groups is very positive. Tourists being siphoned off to over-priced souvenir warehouses is hopefully on its way out.

Traders Encouraged To Take The Plunge

A combination of changing customer preferences, competition, and financial realities is encouraging many Traders to take the plunge and change their trading arrangements.

Changed trading arrangements may involve giving up days, down-sizing, or moving stalls. It makes sense to cut out the unprofitable aspects of your business and experiment with new arrangements. For some Traders this is a cause of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Reacting to changed trading conditions is a smart move and can have significant financial and emotional benefits. In times of great change flexibility is important, and most changes can be reversed when things improve. Some PE Traders have expressed concern about giving up stalls but giving up a stall doesn’t change your trader status. Stalls or trading days can be added down the track.

If you find there are days that are just not worth trading at present, talk to your Precinct Manager and find out your options. You may be surprised at how easy the process is. Ultimately we all want happy profitable traders who are best prepared for difficult trading conditions. Trading at QVM has inherent flexibility and it makes good sense to use that flexibility to enhance our profitability particularly in tough times.

Latest Retail News – 18/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 18/8/2019
1. Queen Victoria Market goes online.
2. Dairy Co-op, Fonterra, predicts $560m full year loss.
3. JB HiFi advises record sales and profit for 2019.
4. NRA ends takeover talks with ARA.
5. Owner of Emporium posts 72% fall in profit across Australia as tough retail conditions bite.
6. Blackmores annual profit plunges.
7. Spendless Shoes sold to Novo.
8. Target to focus on higher quality goods.

Age Proposes Two Shifts At QVM

An interesting editorial has popped up in The Age this week as the media outlet expresses its views on how QVM should operate.
The article published on Wednesday suggests that QVM must adjust to changing times and is more than its heritage-listed sheds.
In relation to two shifts it says – “The Age supports the plans to expand the Queen Victoria’s night market and sees no reason why the venerable institution could not have two shifts: a traditional morning market for shoppers and an evening market for diners. The key is outlining a vision and communicating the potential benefits to, in particular, the long-suffering traders.”

Wednesday 14 August 2019

QVM In The News - Fresh Produce Online - 14/8/2019

Heritage does not equate to standing still. The Queen Victoria Market is more than its heritage-listed sheds, and to survive and thrive, it must adapt to ...

In what is possibly the sweetest music to any Melburnian's ears is the announcement that the Queen Victoria Market now has an online shop, meaning ...

Queen Victoria Market now delivers, so you can order duck eggs and local cheese from the comfort of your couch. • Get fried chicken and waffles with ...

Grocery shopping at Melbourne's iconic Queen Victoria Market walks a fine line between delightful and harrowing. While there are rows upon rows of ...

Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market is driving the 19th century marketplace into the digital age by bringing its fresh produce online. The famous ...

Melbourne's iconic market place is set to revamp it's shopping experience for customers by offering a online shopping and delivery service. Queen ...

Sunday 11 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 11/8/2019

A Trader loves the line in Beat Magazine’s report on QVM – “String Bean Alley – the place to bean.”

“The Caped Crusader” – is the name Guru Pete gave to Ronnie (of the Fabulous Juice) this week as Ronnie engaged with customers looking for guidance around our market.

There has been some criticism of an article in the Age this week and reference to a sinking ship and cheap goods on sale. In fairness, CEO Stan Liacos was talking about the need for change so the boat will not sink, and Leah Moore’s reference to “cheap leather goods” was probably more about discounted prices than cheapness. It is sometimes difficult to get the right point across when a newspaper report is the arbiter.

A Trader recalled the times when he would sell bolts of cloth at country markets where business was brisk because country wives could not get access to those things. Finding that special niche that meets unsatisfied demand is the secret to good trading, but where does that niche lie in today’s digital world?

The chocolate shop in String Bean Alley has been asked to stop handing out samples of their chocolate until they install a sink and hygienic washing equipment. Health rules are important but sometimes they really sound like overkill to general observers.

A customer from the north asked a Trader if the afternoon storm on Sunday would put a stop to trade for the day. The Trader said “No, the sun will come out again”. You could tell by the look on the customer’s face that they didn’t believe the Trader, but this is Melbourne and the sun did come out again.

Letters have been sent out to a number of SL licensees to restart the licensing program that was put on hold for renewal. The licensing structure will not impact on PE Traders. And a Trader asks what level of investment would be needed to get an extended license (4 years instead of 2)?

Another Trader asks if there is a break out clause in the new licenses. If the Trader is forced to leave the market, does the license obligation cease?

Trader, Yakov, apparently featured on the TV News on Saturday as he proudly wore his Hawthorn Football Club scarf following their win against the Sydney Giants.

This week’s “Artic chill” reminded one Trader of the day he complained to his Russian trading neighbour about the cold only to receive the reply “You should try living in Siberia for a few months” – Yep, it is all relative.

Volatile Mood Under The Sheds

You could say this weekend’s Trader mood was volatile. Poor business, unfavourable press, and concern over some license renewal letters that went out during the week all had impact. Add in a TRC agenda item about a demerit points system for Traders and the drums were beating loudly.

Demerit systems are unlikely to get a good reception from independent business people like QVM Traders. As one Trader said many of us refused to accept our School Headmaster’s instructions and probably one reason we ended up at QVM is because we wanted greater freedom in our business lives than regular employees are able to achieve.

Toeing the line is not our strong point, but the observation was made by another Trader that if there is to be a demerit system it should apply equally to all. There are rules that we want our neighbours to follow, and most Traders believe that bad behaviour should be policed. The last thing we want is un-structured preference being shown to some Traders over others. A carefully balanced, structured points system would treat everyone fairly.

Let’s not go too far down this track because the subject is up for discussion at the next TRC meeting and more will be revealed in due course. But perhaps we can make one suggestion – change the name - drop the Demerit Point nomenclature and call it a Trader Community Co-operation Rating. That sounds a lot more positive and something we might even have accepted from our School Headmasters.

My Second Best QVM Meal Ever

Friday was one of the coldest days I have endured at QVM. My phone said it was “7.7degrees (feels like 3)” but soup for lunch was an absolute warming experience and was probably my second best meal ever at QVM.

With the usual soup supplier in SBA absent due to the “Artic winds” forecast for the day, it was time to venture over to Romeo & Theresa’s Cafe(*) in F Shed where there was a choice of chicken or minestrone soup on the menu.

I ordered one of each and the chef asked for a bit of time while he heated up the soup on the stove and prepared some thick china bowls so that the meal would stay hot even with customer interruptions - a very considerate chef.

The soup was served up with crusty bread and the chicken soup was delicious. There must have been half a chicken’s worth of meat in the bowl and the proper china did its job, keeping it hot right down to the last spoonful. The minestrone also received a big thumbs up. There is something about genuine Italian home cooking.

My best ever meal at QVM was a humble cauliflower pasta dish with a hint of anchovies and garlic which I had many years ago but still remember as a standout dish. It was also from Romeo & Theresa’s.

We have some great food at QVM. The choice is almost endless and generally offered up with a big dose of good advice and friendly engagement - just one more reason for loving where I work.

By Greg Smith

* the sign in F Shed says Romeo’s Take-away, but in this business you ignore Theresa at your peril.  The banter between Romeo & Theresa, (and with their customers) makes this a very worthwhile destination, and the home cooked style food is great.

Latest Retail News – 11/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 11/8/2019
1. Retail spending in June up 0.4%
2. Australia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo, fined over unfair contracts.
3. Queensland declares Christmas Eve a Public Holiday with ramifications for penalty rates.
4. Country Road launches their first ever teens collection.
5. Menswear fashion brand, yd., to open 15 concessions in Myer.
6. Nick Scali lifts profit for 7th year in a row but says housing slump limiting performance.
7. Kathmandu records 2.7% lift in same store sales.
8. Aldi growing three times as fast as competitors.
9. King Living launches showroom in Canada.
10. Walmart pulls violent video games posters after mass shootings.

Retail Articles Worth A Read - deaths, revivals, and more.

Neighbourhood Goods breaks the retail mold and guarantees a new shopping experience every time you walk in -

The falling Australian dollar may be important in helping us through global trade wars -

QVM In The News - 11/8/2019

One of Melbourne's oldest and most treasured assets - Queen Victoria Market - will announce on Monday that its fresh produce can be bought online ...
The revitalisation of String Bean Alley comes as part of City of Melbourne's $250 million renewal of the Queen Vic Markets, and Lord Mayor Sally Capp ...

Sunday 4 August 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 4/8/2019

It turns out that the elderly customer mentioned in last week’s Heard Under The Sheds looking for his family name on the String Bean Alley barge board was in fact Mr. Wing Chinn from H Shed.

Trading Hours have once again dominated discussion in the Upper Market this week with 9-3 on weekdays and 9-4 on weekends gaining some support. One Trader pointed out that the new proposal would result in one less trading hour per week compared with current hours.

And some more support for summer trading hours with a Trader suggesting that 5pm closing could be become an option later, but best introduced in summer when crowds are more likely to linger.

A Trader asks why the fairy lights in SBA can’t be switched on during the day, particularly on dull winter days. He believes they add great atmosphere.

And a new measure of a quiet day according to one Trader is the lack of queues at our toilets over in A Shed.

Another Trader has commented that festivals in A Shed can have a good impact on surrounding trade, perhaps better than festivals in Queen St. He believes it is a better buzz under the sheds.

Indian Festival in A Shed

 A Trader’s worst nightmare occurred this week when his neighbour took some time off and there was no replacement from the casual Trader pool. With an empty and ugly stall next door he felt like his trading neighborhood had been converted to slums overnight.

A few Traders were seen tidying their stock, and repairing displays on Friday. That’s what you do when things are really quiet.

A Trader pointed out that online retailing may be a curse for traditional retailers but it can also be an opportunity for buying stock. He has picked up a few very profitable lines by browsing various online suppliers, particularly in China.

A customer from Hong Kong on his first visit to Australia says he is very impressed by the friendly and co-operative attitude of Australian retailers including QVM Traders.

A Trader says he was happy to get his first sale for the day but he was really hanging out for second sale, because then he could go and buy breakfast. Sometimes we have very basic needs.

Article Worth A Read – 4/8/2019

A new force in US retailing is university shops.  Substantial numbers of consumers are engaged in campus activities and major retailers like Target are taking advantage.

Target in the US pushes ahead with smaller format stores -

Buying Opportunities For Traders

Online suppliers are often seen as a curse for traditional retailers but they can also be a great source of unusual and profitable goods for market traders.

There is a huge and diversified range of goods available from online marketplaces like Ali-Express. In the past, retailers have relied on wholesalers to bring them goods but now it is much easier to go direct to the supplier yourself.

Often you don’t have to purchase large quantities so experimentation is easy. But even if there are substantial minimum purchases, you can often find a similar product on eBay to test customer reaction, and then go direct to the manufacturer/supplier once the product has been proven.

Many traders have found very profitable products using online buying, and even if customers know that your product can be purchased cheaper online, the fact that you have it available now is a strong buying incentive.

One trader has suggested that you keep your purchases under $1,000 to avoid goods being embargoed by Australian Customs. He says that is not to avoid tax or customs payments but simply to streamline delivery. A one week delivery can stretch out to one month by the time Customs write to you (bizarrely they use snail mail), ask you to fill out customs forms, and then release the goods.

There are a number of guides about buying wholesales from sources like Ali-Express and simple product searches using the term “wholesale” may give you other useful leads. “The world is our oyster” and the online enemy can become the market trader’s friend with a little research. Good luck!

Latest Retail News – 4/8/2019

Latest Retail News – 4/8/2019
1. Victoria takes top spot in economic growth ahead of NSW.
2. ACCC calls for reform to Google and Facebook domination of digital space.
3. Victoria Bitter produces a tea that smells and tastes like beer.
4. Citi Bank claims retail conditions will improve through 2019.
5. David Jones cuts its value by $413m.
6. Ralph Lauren to open five new stores in Australia.

QVM In The News - 4/8/2019

A bold plan to shake up the hours of operation to the Queen Victora Market has recieved mixed reactions from stallholders. Chief Executive of QVM ...
As long as you're not overly superstitious, a trip to the Queen Victoria Market (usually shortened to Vic Market) is one of the essential activities to tick ...
Two nights a week, the couple and three of their five children, aged 10 to 22, and volunteers drive to Queen Victoria Market to cook and hand out fresh ...
A proposal to alter the trading hours at Queen Victoria Market — the first change in ... The market currently shuts at 3pm on Saturday and 4pm Sunday.
Partners include Preston Market, IGA Supermarkets and the Queen Victoria Market. Ms Jones said they had regular donations of citrus fruits, leafy ...