Sunday 29 September 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 29/9/2019

Earlier this week office staff were looking for a Richmond fan and a GWS fan amongst Traders presumably for some sort of marketing promotion. We hear that finding a GWS fan amongst Traders proved mission impossible.

A Trader is concerned that news of global tour operator Thomas Cook’s collapse will impact on the tourist dependant Upper Market.

Gas scare at the Night Market - turned out that the smell of leaking gas was actually Durian Fruit from a fruit stall, and yes this delicacy can smell that bad.

A Trader tells us that eBay’s introduction of free delivery on a large range of products this week is another indication of where retail is heading.

A hung over customer admitted he had come into the market early Saturday morning to work through his inebriated state. Security staff wish he had gone home to do that.

A few Traders said they expected the usual Grand Final day pattern of a little business before lunch,  and then a very quiet afternoon, as most of Melbourne turned their attention to football. But this year the “little before lunch” turned out to be “very little.”

A Trader sent us this photo of an aisle In his local supermarket that is dedicated to ready to eat dinners and lunches.

Did everyone notice the market will be open Monday and Tuesday before Christmas Day this year?

Traders are asking how we can enshrine hard won conditions like the heat policy and single day absences so that they don’t get lost with each new licence renewal. Locking in those provisions would seem to make a lot of sense. One Trader suggested the TRC could put it as a priority.

The handing out of large plastic garbage bags to Traders has been criticised particularly in view of the retail plastic bag ban throughout the market. In the past such criticism has been dismissed as”points scoring” by Traders reluctant to move from plastic bags themselves, but one Trader says we should take this seriously. He feels uncomfortable every time he throws a huge plastic bag into the aisle at the end of the day. He asks why smaller paper bags can’t be distributed at least to those Traders who seek an option.

A rent rise never seems to fly under the radar but 2% seems to be grudgingly acceptable given that some increased expenditure by QVM is expected over the next 12 months. 4% would have been a different story.

One of our new traders confided that the hardest part of life at QVM is when she is  hassled by neighbouring Traders.

A Trader with an alternative corporate life says he attended a conference this week at which Westpac Chief Economist, Bill Evans, talked about the “retail sector now in recession and facing structural changes.”

And the bad (but irresistible) joke of the week – “Has everyone met our new TRC member Barbara the Sheep...... she is so excited to represent all ewe’s.”

Latest Retail News – 29/9/2019

Latest Retail News – 29/9/2019
1. Walmart to halt sale of e-cigarettes following health scare.
2. T.K.Maxx now has more than 50 stores in Australia.
3. Good360 reaches $100m in donations of essential family goods from major retailers.
4. Webjet takes $7m hit from Thomas Cook demise.
5. Amazon Australia to sell second hand tech.
6. Footwear brand Ziera falls into administration.
7. Chadstone Shopping Centre adds hotel to its range of customer services.
8. NZ looking to trademark Manuka Honey.
9. Australia sees rise in foot traffic despite falling sales.
10. Plastic bags to be banned in Victoria from November 2019.
11. Nestle unveils world’s largest Milo factory in Malaysia.
12. Sephora to open first SA store.
13. Kelloggs ventures into craft beer.
14. Haigh’s opens more stores in Sydney and Melbourne.

QVM In The News - 29/9/2019

By Stephen Mayne. As the City of Melbourne (CoM) finally gets cracking with its biggest ever investment in the Queen Victoria Market (QVM), the ...
By Sean Car. For the manager and “head barber” of Queen Victoria Market's (QVM's) new barbershop Edwin Squires, hairdressing runs in the family.
It seems impossible to believe now, but Melbourne's main cemetery was once located on the site of the iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM), mostly ...
The Queen Victoria Market's seasonal weekly Hawker 88 night market is welcoming a new stallholder this year, with durian trader Durasia supplying ...
Queen Victoria Market is officially changing its opening hours for the first time in almost 20 years, with many traders concerned that the longer hours ...
New Trading Hours to commence from 29 October
Queen Victoria Market has today announced it will change its trading hours for the first time in nearly 20 years, offering customers more consistency on ...

Punting, QVM, And Change

A colleague Trader once said that we are all gamblers. It is the anticipation, the possibility of riches, that brings Traders to the market each day with a positive mindset. But riches are becoming harder to find and there is another punting connection that might be relevant here.

Have you been to a horse or dog race meeting lately? If you have, you were probably part of a very small crowd. The gambling industry is strong, but the old practice of going to the racetrack and experiencing the sights, sounds, and buzz of a big crowd has changed. Punters now rely on modern technology to do their gambling and no longer have to go to the track. They have sacrificed the buzz for convenience.

There is a clear analogy with shopping trends. Customers who don’t wish to venture out shopping can do it online. They won’t get the buzz of shopping and they can get goods delivered to their door. It is all about convenient alternatives.

The local punting industry of course hasn’t abandoned crowds and clearly has a plan of attack for the Spring Carnival in 2019. The latest TV campaign is enticing punters with the prospect of dressing up, socialising, having a good time, and even hitching up with a partner. They are selling the entertainment value of going to the track. QVM has its Night Market and the Queen Street Festivals to do similar things, but the poor old Upper Market seems to miss out in the entertainment stakes.

So what do we do with the Upper market? Do we need to re-invent it? Is entertainment the answer and is that enough on its own? Do we comprehensively change the way we organise the Upper Market - create interesting variations on the mundane aisle system, introduce some well thought out entertainment elements, and make a real difference? If you were to sit down with a clean sheet of paper, how would you organise the Upper Market?

As a senior banking economist recently said – “The retail sector is in recession – facing structural challenges.” Clearly change is happening, and for the Upper Market, that change might as well be significant. The way business is going, what have we got to lose?

Harassment At QVM

Harassment of new Traders is alive and well at QVM and we must put a stop to it.

Last week we published an article about making it easier for new Traders to conduct business at our market. New Traders are our life blood and particularly important as difficult trading conditions create gaps in our ranks.

That article suggested providing stall facilities that made setting up easier but maybe we have a bigger problem for new Traders and it involves harassment by other Traders.

There is an unfortunate culture amongst some of our Traders that they should be protected from competition. They call up the old stall separation rules which many believe belong in the dinosaur age. The question needs to be asked - is protecting and encouraging new Traders more important than misguided protectionism?

Some Traders are brazen enough to raise the issue direct with the new Trader. Some may not openly engage with the new Trader, but they certainly make their feelings clear by raising complaints.

Imagine being a new Trader in a new environment and receiving this sort of negative response from the Trader community. And make no mistake, this sort of behaviour reflects on all of us unless we make every effort to put a stop to harassment.

Times are tough, and we can understand that Traders are concerned about any impact on their businesses. But we need to get our priorities right. We have a major problem attracting new Traders and that needs attention. The gaps in our market are an eyesore and they have to be filled. Let’s give new Traders our full support. Let's embrace what they can offer our market. As one of our Traders said “If we did lose any business through competition at the moment it would probably be 5% of nothing!” This is about priorities and collectively building a better market.

A Key Initiative In QVM’s 2019/20 Business Plan Could Be A Great Opportunity

There is lots of good stuff in QVM’s 2019/20 Business Plan. E-commerce and grocery delivery partnership, new Licensing & Leasing Framework, and adjusting trading hours are some of those, but the one that caught the eye of many was “Reviewing the layout of the Upper Market Open Sheds”.

Traders have been urging measures to correct the gaps in the Upper Market caused by departing traders. The retail recession is creating havoc in retail precincts worldwide and re-configuring our Upper market could be the perfect opportunity to make some improvements, restore the buzz necessary for good trading, introduce some entertainment elements, and prepare our market for the future.

We could use this opportunity to try some new layouts, maybe introducing more permanent structures, and perhaps experimenting with different stall formats that offer more flexibility.

The retail recession is causing retailers worldwide to reassess, experiment, and come up with better ways. QVM and its Traders have a great opportunity to do the same.

Sunday 22 September 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 22/9/2019

A Trader says it is so frustrating when there are reasonable crowds but very few customers come on to your stall.

Reports of plenty of diners at the first night of the Hawker Night Market, and some encouraging sales for new Specialty Merchandise Traders although a bit patchy out in String Bean Alley.

A Trader made an interesting observation about retail marketing – in strip shopping centres you are on your own – in Shopping Centres the landlord promotes the centre – at QVM the landlord promotes the market and individual Traders. And yes that is a compliment.

Apparently CEO Stan Liacos was out talking to Traders in the Upper Market on Friday. He suggested to one Trader that he needed to lift his game on stall presentation and the Trader agreed, making some immediate improvements.

Keeping a clear vista out in String Bean Alley is an obvious priority with one Trader asked to modify their veranda display so it didn’t block the view of other Traders.

Bad (but irresistible) Joke of the Week – Johnny took his new puppy to the vet. He asked “Why does he keep putting his head in the sink?” The vet said “ Well he is a plug!!!!”

A Trader says he is noticing that some retailers who feed him marketing material are going way up-market in their offers as they test out consumer sentiment in these difficult times.

Our photo shows a group of visitors lining up in a strange way in an aisle last week. Apparently they were on a cooking challenge involving a number of special tests around our market. One of the participants said “We were just a bit tired”. Another explained that they were from New Zealand and nothing more really needed to be said.

A customer at the Night Market said she was enjoying her visit but found it very hard to work out what some of the food stalls were actually selling. She wasn’t familiar with some of the food names and because the food was all prepared fresh (which was a good thing) there weren’t any dishes on display.

A Trader commented how a few extra buses up on Peel St. seem to make a big difference to crowd numbers (Sunday).

Interesting Retail Articles – 22/9/2019

A Day Of Queues

Queues  at Car Park, Donut Van, and ATMs on Queen St.

Sunday 22nd September at QVM was a day for crowds with fine weather and an African Festival on Queen St combining to create queues at a number of locations in the market .

Of course you can measure crowds by counting people but Trader's prefer the till count and the two don't always align. 

Either way it was encouraging to see people out and about and hopefully we can expect to see more queues over coming months.

Have Your Say - click here.

Traders Raise The Bar With Packaging

Our picture shows a shopper proudly displaying a very classy looking carry bag. You might be forgiven for thinking they have just purchased at a fancy CBD boutique but in fact "Brother Hatters" is a QVM business in the Upper market.

We think they have nailed the look with a simple paper carry bag and there are other Traders doing similar good work. 

We have gone from plastic bags to recyclable packaging in fairly short time, but maybe the bar has just been raised again. 

Have Your Say - click here.

Latest Retail News – 22/9/2019

Latest Retail News – 22/9/2019
1. Business Council of Australia warns businesses to focus on profitability not social issues.
2. Shopping Centre Managers see rents declining and incentives rising in latest survey.
3. Ice-cream shop, Niska, launches Australia’s first robotic retail experience.
4. CBA says retail spending will improve on back of tax cuts and improvement in house prices.
5. The Iconic sees strong growth in kids fashion.
6. Kathmandu posts record profit.
7. Many Australian businesses paying staff to attend climate strike.
8. Sydney Fish Market gets $750m investment.
9. Premier Investments profit up 27.7% with strong growth in Smiggle & Peter Alexander.
10. Coles drops prices of over 300 products.

Attracting New Traders

QVM desperately needs new Traders to replace those who are slowly leaving. The gaps in our market are an eyesore and we haven’t been able to find a solution but maybe the answer is in front of us.

New Traders don’t grow on trees. It is difficult to attract new traders because –
1. We are in a recession.
2. Setting up a market business requires capital.
3. Many potential stallholders find it difficult to transition from weekly or monthly neighbourhood markets to a QVM environment.
4. When they get here they have to wait through an unfriendly casual Trader muster.
5. When they set up their stall they may be subjected to (let’s call it what it is) bullying from neighbours.
6. There is little guidance along the way.

When a business is having difficulty attracting customers it organises special deals. It knows that special effort is needed to turn things around.

The same applies attracting new Traders to QVM, and we do have a clue to what might work. There is a waiting list of Traders wanting containers because they offer attractive operating benefits. This is not a proposal to install dozens of containers but there are other things we can do to make our market more attractive to new Traders

Imagine if there were select stalls where a fancy marquee and four tables were set up each morning ready for allocating to new traders. Newbies wouldn’t have to worry about fittings. They could simply turn up and concentrate on showcasing their product(s) to customers. No worrying about buying equipment, and no waiting for the casual muster before setting up. It would be a cheap and easy way for potential new traders to try out the market.

The idea is that by removing the uncertainty and anxiety, we will become a more attractive option to potential Traders and that has benefits for every existing and future business at QVM.

If you like this idea or want to add comment please email
or click below.

Have Your Say - click here.

Monday 16 September 2019

Progressing Market Infrastructure Plans – Important Council Meeting Tuesday

The re-direction of market renewal (replacing the old plan for a major underground facility), and the guidance of a People’s Panel involving Traders, have resulted in a report to go to Council on Tuesday this week.

The plans involve four key infrastructure projects designed to prepare our market for future trading.
G Shed – which is basically the current waste disposal area on Queen St. between the Meat Hall and H&I sheds will become – “new undercover, segregated and controlled loading docks for traders, secure climate controlled trader storage, waste management facilities for Meat, Fish and Dairy Produce Halls, dedicated trader amenities including toilets, showers, lunch room, meeting rooms and lockers and public toilets and parents room.”

Queen St. North – the area of Queen St. closer to Victoria St. between the bottom of A,B,C Sheds and the Food Court/Meat Hall entrance. – “centralised waste and recycling facilities, new undercover, segregated and controlled loading docks for fruit and vegetable traders, multi-use space dedicated for trader deliveries and later converting to a public space for customers and visitors with integrated street furniture.”
Imagine a loading dock that allows convenient Trader deliveries for Fruit & Vegetables and then transforms to a customer friendly transition area during the trading day and does it all in a safe secure way.

Point of Sale Storage in Sheds A, B, H & I – putting storage, including refrigeration, at the Trader’s stalls – “purpose built storage and refrigeration within fresh produce traders’ stalls.”

Queens Corner Building – this is a proposed building on Queen St at the Franklin St. end – “24 hour loading docks, dedicated storage for Queen Victoria Market Pty Ltd (the Company) operations and events, security control room, public amenities, including a Changing Places accessible toilet, and retail to activate the future public space.”

Council will consider these proposals on Tuesday night.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Heard Under The Sheds - 15/9/2019

Good Samaritan - our photo shows a Trader chasing after a customer who had accidentally dropped $50 at their stall. Those of you who know “Auntie” will realise that “chasing” is not her forte but she got the job done. A very commendable act and great for customer sentiment.

It is all in the timing...... a Trader asks why we are having all this red tape, including discussion around licenses, bonds, and demerit points, coinciding with one of the darkest trading periods this decade. “Don’t they realise we are hurting?”

This Trader sees a bright side - “I’ll be able to tell my Grandchildren I traded through the 2019/20 recession.”

Another Trader says “I’m sick of all this recession talk. We are market Traders - we know there are going to be downturns and we need to prepare for them.” Then he admitted he hadn’t prepared for this one. Nice thought however.

Lost some stock? Traders in SBA report finding stock under adjoining containers on particularly windy days including one Trader who recovered a number of items from the car park.

Early call – it is only half way through the month but a Trader is predicting that Australia’s September Retail Sales figures will show a significant decline. You heard it here first.

A few Traders are delighted that QVM P/L is planning a smoking ban at our market.

A couple of weeks back we posted a Trader’s suggestion that barriers between containers in SBA should be removed so that we could add to the adventure of customers searching Melbourne’s newest laneway. This photo shows what they were talking about.

Ronnie Z has a big blackboard outside his caravan which announces the soup of the day. Ronnie will often chalk up the heading “Today’s Soup Is…” and then head off to the Fruit & Veg section for supplies. The blank space was too tempting for one of Ronnie’s neighbours. While he was away this neighbor chalked in a soup with most unappetizing ingredients. In fact it was so unsavory that it was quickly erased in case some wag put it on social media. We’ll let you speculate on the ingredients.

Have Your Say - click here.

QVM In The News - 15/9/2019

Smokers look set to be banned from lighting up in Bourke Street Mall, and the Queen Victoria Market could soon follow. The City of Melbourne has ...

Latest plans for Queen Victoria Market redevelopment revealed ... The QVM board wants 1000 dedicated parking spaces at the market — 500 at the ...

You Are Not Alone

The official RUOK day was this week but we want to talk about something related and it concerns a potential source of anxiety.

Business is bad. September is described by some as “Septic September” for very good reason. The really depressing thought is that it might only be you, and this can cause anxiety, but we can assure you that you are not alone.

Many Traders are describing current trading conditions as the worst in decades. We understand that one of our Trader Representatives actually gave out her takings at this week’s TRC meeting to illustrate the current downturn. So if you have days when you are only taking around $150, many other Traders are as well.

It is interesting that with the huge variety of stalls, merchandise, and target audiences, we will all generally experience similar sales levels on any given day. There are obviously some exceptions, but generally, your level of takings will be mirrored throughout the precinct.

So knowing that we are all experiencing similar conditions may make it a little easier to talk about the problem(s), discuss solutions and find some answers. Talking to your neighbours, Precinct Managers, and SBMS Mentors may be a good start.

Latest Retail News – 15/9/2019

Latest Retail News – 15/9/2019
1. Strandbags evolves to offer bigger, more engaging stores.
2. Australian designer brand, Zimmerman, opens 12th US store.
3. Relaxing pharmacy owner rules could lead to poorer care from chain operators.
4. Kathmandu joins “business as a force for good” movement.
5. R.M.Williams to open 18 stores in UK and US.
6. September business confidence particularly weak in retail.
7. Amazon launches home & garden store for Australia.
8. Zara’s shares fall as margins remain flat despite higher sales.

Thursday 12 September 2019



Sunday 8 September 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 8/9/2019

Trading Hours are to be adjusted from 29th October and we understand that with the later start in the Upper Market casual stall allocations will be conducted at 8:00am instead of 7:15am.

The answers to our two historical questions in last week’s Heard Under The Sheds - The 100 year market celebrations were held on Queen St. adjacent to the toilet block, and the rent for a single stall in the Upper Market on a Sunday in 1978 was $15.

A customer has described Melbourne’s Spring weather as “just like Winter but with more rain.”

A Brisbane couple who arrived in shorts and T-shirts on Friday said they were loving Melbourne weather. They described Brisbane weather as boring and predictable. Here they experienced bright sunshine followed by cloudy rain all within 10 minutes and found it a real buzz. They seemed sane enough.

As a follow up to last week’s picture of a soccer match in C Shed, one Trader is suggesting the installation of a few basketball hoops perhaps even in occupied aisles so Traders could be active in quiet times. Sounds like a very healthy initiative.

Mug Shot – With one of their mates overseas on a sabbatical (a big shout out to Ivano), a group of Traders decided to send him a group photo just to say hello. We are not sure Ivano will find the result too welcoming.

Creative Idea: Michael Mallon. Photography: Sue Smith. Post Editing: Tony Pierrakos.

A Trader has asked us to remind everybody that, despite all the events going on Melbourne at the moment, the two quietest trading months of the year are September and February.

A Trader asks if some of his colleagues are expecting too much sales for the amount of stock they are holding. Stock to sales ratios vary from category to category in retailing but a factor of 4 could be considered a rough guide for the industry. So if you expect say $200,000 p.a. sales from your business you would need to be holding about $50,000 worth of stock?

One Trader says he is in two minds. His business mind says he wants as many interstate AFL teams to visit Melbourne as possible, but his sporting mind says the prospect of a Richmond/ Collingwood Grand Final has him salivating.

Have Your Say - click here.

9/9/2019 0408  Re: Mug Shot "That photo just makes you want to jump on the next flight back... ... ... " - Ivano

Some Interesting Retail Articles - 8/9/2019

The Real Reason Why Brick & Mortar Retailing Is Struggling.
“Aldi, Costco and soon Kaufland will eventually claim close to 20 per cent of the Australian supermarket market, most likely more. This will have nothing to do with ‘digital disruption’ – they are just better operators.

Myer Reports Modest Improvement.

Nordstrom To Accept Returns Purchased From Other Retailers.

What Went Wrong With Forever 21?

Concerns Over New SL License Documents

Leasing documents can be a nightmare to get through as some of our Traders are finding.

New SL Licenses are currently being distributed to Traders but trying to understand the clauses can be a daunting task. They have been written by accountants and lawyers (not used car salesmen as some would claim) and legal jargon can be very difficult to understand.

When a lawyer attempts to protect every possible difficulty that may arise in a lease or license, it often results in twisted expressions and sub clauses on sub clauses. By the time you have worked out what it all means you will probably wish you hadn’t started at all.

Licenses are legal documents and clearly you do need to understand your obligations before signing. There are some basics to check -
-     How long is the license?
-     What is the rent and any built in rent increases?
-     Is the permitted use appropriate for your product range?

Remember that there are protections for tenants in common law and in the many regulations that cover the retail industry.

Questions have been raised about this latest round of license documents at QVM. Apparently one clause states that leave can only be taken in one week blocks although Traders can take single day absences under an amendment introduced a few years back. We have also heard that some licences include a 3 months bond although Victraders has been advised that 3 months would not be applied to open stands.

It would appear that there are some issues that need to be worked through and hopefully these will be sorted soon.

The bottom line is, that if you are really concerned about a license provision then, ask for an explanation either from your Precinct Manager or within your circle of business advisers.

Latest Retail News – 8/9/2019

Latest Retail News – 8/9/2019
1. David Jones profit almost halves.
2. Swedish outdoors store, Fjallraven, opens Sydney shop.
3. Hudson Bay to sell US department store, Lord & Taylor.
4. Aussies spending more on fast food including easy cook home meals.
5. Retail Food Group profit halved.
6. Gerry Harvey says economic decline to get worse.
7. Radio Rentals to pay back $25m for questionable pricing.
8. Harvey Norman strategy to make stores more appealing.
9. Retail sales fell 0.1% in July.
10. Walmart to stop selling hand guns.
11. Bega invests in home delivery breakfast foods.
12. Myer reports “modest improvement” by reducing costs.
13. UK fashion brand, Karen Millen, shuts Australian operations.
14. CSIRO says food sector could become more valuable to Australia than mining.