Sunday 8 March 2020

Goodbye, Thank You, and Good Luck

This is the final post on Victraders. The editor is retiring from the Queen Victoria Market. Here is his retirement letter. 8/3/2020

Dear Queen Vic,
            This is one of the hardest letters I have ever had to write and I want you to know in advance –  this is not your fault.

            After 40 years I have decided to end our relationship and move on to other things. It is not the difficult business conditions, the gaps in our stalls, the extremes in weather, the endless “will you be here tomorrow” or “Can I have your business card” or even “I just love your stuff but I don’t have room in my suitcase.”

It is not the endless complaints from Traders, the neighbours who go over the line, or even having to get up at 5am after a Night Market.

In fact QVM has provided me a livelihood for 40 years that has allowed me to put two children through university, pay off a mortgage, and even engage in some hobbies that are pure indulgence (and completely legal). You’ve got to love all that.

And I have enjoyed the most wonderful social interactions with an incredible variety of people – Traders, customers, management, support staff, and the list goes on. My special adviser, Ivano Guseli who outdoes any Trader for professional well researched solutions - sports tipster and general stirrer, Guru Pete, who entertains us all  and adds a certain cohesiveness to daily market life - my sternest supporter and critic, Lana - Peter & Russell who probably have the hardest jobs in the market -  Stan Liacos who already has a remarkable list of achievements -  and the Committee of Trustees led by Sally Capp. There have been so many associates, friends, confidants, advisers, passionate believers, and jokers – all wonderful personalities that have made life at QVM rich and satisfying.

And it is here that I am tempted to start listing all those very worthy people, but the list is just too long. You know who you are.

It is said that you don’t own a stall at QVM. You simply look after it until the next Trader comes along and puts their stamp on the place. In the next week or two my wife and I will retire from the market and enter a new phase in life. It is time to hand over to a new breed of market trader. Retailing in the future will be quite different and incredibly demanding.

Goodbye Queen Vic, and thank you. We sincerely wish you and all your participants every success in the future.

Greg & Sue Smith
Queen Victoria Market Traders (Rtd.)

“There is no real ending. It's just the place where you stop the story.” -

Frank Herbert

Heard Under The Sheds – 8/03/2020

A Trader likes this phrase and claims it definitely applies to QVM Traders right now 

“There is no path…. We are trailblazers!!!!”

One Trader said that Stan Liacos’ email about visitor numbers is a sober reminder that we have a problem that we all need to work on.

A Trader sent us a photo of the latest sign appearing in shop windows – 

“No cash or toilet paper kept on these premises.”

A Trader suggests that we look at the QVM In The News articles on Victraders over recent weeks and the incredible amount of press exposure that QVM gets (7 entries on 23/2/20, 6 entries on 1/3/20, and another 8 entries this week). The hype over QVM issues and particularly the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is amazing and yet it remains difficult to convert news/marketing exposure to sales in these tough times.

A Trader noticed that the QVM website now includes a Businesses For Sale page.

One of Guru Pete’s cleaning duties involves removing stray stickers from around the market. Apparently he is not impressed that someone is sneakily putting stickers on his own cleaning trolley.

Apparently one option for Traders struggling with current trading is to go on the casual list on at least some days. It will mean losing their current permanent stall position on those days but give a lot more flexibility with taking leave. When things improve they can go back to the permanent list.

A Trader reports that Melbourne’s traffic congestion is getting ridiculous. A morning peak trip from nearby Kensington to the CBD took over an hour and cost $67 with Uber.

A Trader has noticed that Trader interaction becomes even more important when things are quiet. Spirited conversation and jokes can be a great mood lifter.

On a similar theme, two neighbours were having fun picking which stalls were the likely destination of passing customers based on the customer’s appearance. They reckon they often got it right.

Latest Retail News – 8/03/2020

Latest Retail News – 8/03/2020
1. Taco bell to open 7 new stores in Australia this year.
2. Harvey Norman feels the impact of bushfires.
3. Asahi offers to ditch cider and beer brands in order to get CUB deal approved by ACCC.
4. Kathmandu opens first solar powered store.
5. Virus hit tourism retailers to get tax relief in Queensland.
6. Australia Post says Black Friday and Cyber Monday online events grew nearly 32% in 2019.
7. Spotlight to buy Harris Scarfe.
8. Myer halves its Head Office space.
9. Supermarkets report panic buying over Coronavirus fears.
10. Dare iced coffee now comes in sparkling version.
11. Woolworths rations toilet paper.
12. Fashion expert predicts 10% reduction in store display space as sales go online.
13. Myer says future forecasts unknown as profits tumble on Coronavirus.
14. The impact of Coronavirus predicted to be “deeper, wider, and longer” than SARS.
15. Online grocery sales on the rise in recent weeks as shoppers stay home.
16. Motley Fool predicts Coronavirus will hasten exit of sick retailers.

Articles Worth a Read:
Australia In Panic Mode -

Dumped Brands Dismayed At Myer Action -

Amazon Launches Full Size Supermarket With No Tills -

QVM In The News - 8/3/2020

Nothing illustrates Melbourne's fixation with food quite as vividly as a guided walking tour through the 140-year-old Queen Victoria Market.
Relive your '90s rock fantasies at Queen Victoria Market. Beloved Australian singer-songwriter, Killing Heidi frontwoman and Eurovision finalist Ella ...
And if you love Italian food, you'll love The Big Spaghetti pasta party at Queen Victoria Market, Italian Festival at Crown Riverwalk, and Best of Italian ...
Hot 100: The best places and dishes to eat in Victoria right now ... At the festival's new Queen Victoria Market hub, it's a Fry-yay not to miss, kicking off ...
Morry and his brother Ruben Fried worked at the family textiles stall at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market in the early 1970s before opening their first ...
At The Convenient Store, a 10-day pop-up at Queen Victoria Market, there'll be no soggy sangas. The shelves will be stocked with grab-and-go items ...
Spending time at the Queen Vic Market in preparation for next month's MFWF has me reacquainted with the hot, sugary perfectionof the market's ...
Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market is about for a $35 million makeover scheduled for subsequent yr. The Melbourne Metropolis Council on Monday ...

Sunday 1 March 2020

Heard Under The Sheds - 1/3/2020

A Trader has a tip for his colleagues selling fashion. Metallic clothing, popular in the 80’s, is making a comeback according to internet bloggers.

A Trader wonders if Traders have shot themselves in the foot by campaigning against the underground proposal for A-D sheds a few years back. The new proposal for facilities on Queen St. means the Upper Market is no longer locked in to our future trading plans.

Staff email - the mistaken distribution of an internal QVM staff email to Traders has probably helped reduce the “them and us” syndrome according to a number of Traders. Seeing the management team in a more family-friendly light might challenge a few negative perceptions.

And a tip from one Trader - if you want an email to go under the radar, maybe don’t publish a “please disregard” notice. That will ensure that Traders check it out.

A Trader in the Upper Market has an interesting Google Review profile. He has many reviews and apparently they are either very good or very bad with little in between. Does this mean he is a nice guy with a bad temper?

A Trader says the Coronavirus wasn’t the only cause of a very quiet weekend’s trading. Apparently the Greek Festival in a closed off section of Lonsdale St. over the weekend attracted an estimated 100,000 customers. Greek food is a great draw-card and probably created significant competition for QVM.

On the same subject, another  Trader wonders if the next Greek Festival could be in the planned City Square that will replace our current carpark when it is relocated to Munro’s. Better to have 100,000 people next door to our market than elsewhere in the city.

A Trader says the new $35m proposal for facilities on Queen St. is worth checking out. He was particularly impressed by the proposed building on Queen St. itself which houses underground facilities that will pipe F&V rubbish from A-B sheds but remain an unobtrusive pedestrian mall during trading hours - very high tech without disturbing the look and feel of the market.

Have Your Say - click here.

Trader’s Strategy In Tough Times

There is little doubt that the Coronavirus event will be locked into Trader folklore as a particularly tough time.

We have now endured many weeks of restricted tourist travel and a general negative outlook by consumers. As consumers tighten the belt, reduce spending, and wait-and-see, we thought we would ask Traders what strategy they were adopting. Here are some responses -

“I just do what I always do - adjust to the circumstances, and do my very best.”

“Don’t panic - lower your costs, and ride it out.”

“I am prepared. I have factored a 12 month lull into my business plan.”

“I will just be patient, but I don’t have a mortgage or kids at school. I really feel for those Traders with young families who rely on market income. It must be tough.”

“I am presenting my stall as an oasis for customers wishing to get away from all the bad news out there and at the same time introducing catch strategies like special offers and social media promotions.”

“We are upping our social media content, particularly Instagram, to bring customers in.”

“I am not panicking but I believe that long term I will need to somehow spread my income stream. Online is an obvious option and maybe wholesaling or business to business.”

Victraders – An Ongoing Source Of Information

In a couple of weeks, Victraders will post its last article but life will go on through the search box.

Over approximately 10 years, Victraders has amassed quite a bit of information. 

More than 3400 published articles contain stories on many different issues around QVM. 

In part, Victraders is a social commentary of facts, opinions, views, arguments, statements and rants that hopefully will continue to inform as the years go on.

In the right hand margin of each page is a Search This Blog search box just begging for you to enter a word of phrase that will often bring up a number of relevant articles and explain some of the background to market issues. 

Try entering “Shuttle Buses” or “Rents”, and see what comes up.

From The Archives - One of Our Favourite Letters To The Editor Of Victraders

Letters to the Editor - The Dark Side
Dear Editor,
                Would you please stop posting those damn articles about online buying? Last night my wife asked if I would check the online price of knitting wool (insert horror music here).

Now, my wife is a bit of a Luddite when it comes to the internet. She has never typed one laptop key and her mobile phone is convenient packing between the nail clippers and purse in her handbag. I ask all my friends not to send her SMS’s because she keeps on asking me what the funny little flag at the top of the screen is. Not only did she ask me to check prices online but she asked if I could show her how to buy online (even louder horror music).

I told her that I’d heard online wool comes from diseased lambs (you’re right – not smart – she saw through that) so I started to give her detailed instructions on accessing the internet. Her eyes glazed over and I knew I had earned a temporary reprieve. However, the Dark Side is only a few key presses away. Please stop posting those online buying articles.

Regards – Desperate Trader.

More Stunning Craftwork at QVM

Mick Williams market business, Flamin’ Signs, produces a range of decorative wooden craft from phone covers to large signs, and he utilises modern laser equipment for some of his work.

But it is Mick’s freehand wood burning that caught our eye. One-off handmade pieces, like the box in our photo,  involve many hours of work and are true pieces of art. Just one more gem to be found under our sheds.

Flamin’ Signs - String Bean Alley, QVM.

Latest Retail News – 1/3/2020

Latest Retail News – 1/3/2020
1. Pepsi to buy one of China’s largest online snack companies.
2. Bids are in for Harris Scarfe rescue.
3. Helloworld Travel adjusts its forecasts in light of Coronavirus.
4. Accent Group, including Athlete’s Foot chain, reports profit up 10%.
5. Blackmores profit plunges as Coronavirus impacts.
6. Mosaic Brands (Noni B, Millers) expects supply issues out of China.
7. Minority shareholder offers to buy Jeanswest out of administration.
8. Woolworths says wage underpayments could be $315m.
9. Woolworths named Australia’s No.1 online retailer.
10. Australia Post raises revenue by 4%.
11. Dominos wins Customer Experience of the Year top place in industry awards.

Articles Worth A Read:
Seven movies on Netflix that all entrepreneurs should watch -

Coronavirus impacts on supplies out of China -

It’s not a store, it’s a place of worship -

QVM In The News - 1/3/2020

The historic Queen Victoria Market is one of the must-see attractions for tourists looking for food. This year's festival will use Melbourne's largest ...
The redevelopment included the construction of community facilities, interconnecting laneways, a hotel and residential apartments next to the market.
The City of Melbourne has released plans for a $35 million investment in Queen Victoria Market that will deliver upgrades to essential services for ...
“We invite you to choose your own adventure at Queen Victoria Market, ... The home of Melbourne Food & Wine Festival at Queen Victoria Market, ...
The latest stage of the Queen Victoria Market redevelopment has been unveiled with plans for two new buildings in the heart of the heritage-listed site.
The City of Melbourne has released a set of plans for upgrades to the historic Queen Victoria Market that would improve essential services for traders.

Sunday 23 February 2020

Heard Under The Sheds – 23/2/2020

The list of new Trader Representatives has been released. A couple of the names are not well known (Jim Ayas is the Sugar Cane guy and Giovanni Kennedy sells oil paintings) and the general feeling is that we have some good entrepreneurial skills in the mix. Congratulations to all appointees.

We hear that a Trader has found some old copies of “Market Voice” from the mid 1980’s. Although apparently without the date you would think many of the articles were written yesterday. Some issues at QVM just keep on re-cycling.

A Trader has received a letter admonishing them for leaving 5 minutes early on a trading day and they wonder if that was really worth a letter.

One of our new Trader Representatives sent us this quote – “Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self importance.”

Elections will need to be held for TRC Representatives in the Dairy Hall, F Shed, Meat and Fish Hall and Victoria Street (Peel St to Queen St) as there are more nominations than positions. There has been much speculation about who might be vying for the roles. Could an ex QVM executive be in the mix?

A Trader said this week that it is difficult to underestimate the importance of your neighbours at QVM. In really difficult times the opportunity to complain, laugh, listen, advise, agree, disagree, re-think, and learn with your fellow Traders is great therapy.

Our bad (but irresistible) joke of the weekDid you hear about the doctor who gave up medicine? ....... no Patience!!!!

Stunning Decor Piece Made Right Here At QVM

One of our new Trader Representatives, Giovanni Kennedy, says QVM is Melbourne's best kept secret because of the variety of amazing things that can be found in our aisles.

The photo above shows just one great example. This intricate and beautiful mask was made by Trader Robyn Faulkner in her F Shed studio. Robyn does commission work on some fascinating pieces and it is worth checking out her photographic catalogue which also includes the piece shown below.

More Heroes Of Victraders

Some more of the personalities that have helped enrich the pages of

Reaction To 9 News Segment

Wednesday night’s Channel 9 News segment about QVM has created considerable discussion under the sheds with many wondering if it did Traders any favours.

The segment involved a series of interviews with Traders who were generally blaming QVM management for dire trading conditions at the market. One observer pointed out that nobody is blaming shopping centres for the collapse of retail chains and it is difficult to believe that the public would see QVM in a different light.

Most people (including Traders) are aware that global retailing has been subjected to a barrage of issues over recent years. The impact has been described as a revolution with changing consumer sentiment causing a major examination of how retailers go about their business. Many retailers have succumbed to the pressure and gone under, and there is no suggestion that the “culling” process has stopped.

So did those Traders on Wednesday night give us any reason to believe that QVM is any different? Is it fair to lay blame solely at the foot of QVM management?  

One of the participants suggested they were just looking to make the public aware of their plight. There was one comment on a QVM Facebook post which said “”Keep going to the Vic Market, the stall holders need our support…more than ever!” That may have been a voice in the wilderness, and certainly business levels over the days since the TV segment have not indicated any surge in public buying support. Some Traders fear it may have done the reverse.

One thing that Wednesday night clearly got right is that our livelihoods are in danger. This retail revolution is a serious fight for all retailers and the emotion is perfectly understandable. But maybe instead of looking for sympathy and blaming others, we can adopt positive co-operative action with our partners (management and customers) and take on a very difficult challenge head on. Like all good fights it won’t be easy.

By Greg Smith

Latest Retail News – 23/2/2020

Latest Retail News – 23/2/2020
1. Dymocks opens a new store in Brisbane.
2. Coles has underpaid staff around $20m over last 6 years.
3. Woolworths expected to open its first e-store by mid-year.
4. Kogan’s half year results very positive.
5. EG Group joins race to acquire Caltex service stations.
6. Target joins list of retailers who have underpaid staff.
7. No-sugar drinks help Amatil lift Australian profit by 34%.
8. Coronavirus kills Australian export market for lobsters.
9. Ishka enters voluntary administration.
10. Dominos global sales reach $1.58 billion.
11. Australian athleisure brand, P.E Nation, to supply H&M stores globally.
12. David Jones expects “another tough period.”
13. A quarter of Collette by Collette Hayman stores to close.
14. Mecca to create the largest beauty store in the southern hemisphere in Sydney.

Articles Worth A Read:

Sustainable is the new ticket to play -
Seven lessons western retailers could learn from Chinese -

QVM In The News - 23/2/2020

Elizabeth Chong was a celebrity chef before we had celebrity chefs. She was a familiar face in the early '90s when she appeared on Good Morning ...
Some of the reasons for its popularity are: The Queen Victoria Market, fish food, Wagyu beef tartars and chilli baked mussels. What do you have to say ...
Heritage Victoria has given the City of Melbourne the go-ahead to undertake major heritage restoration works to preserve Queen Victoria Market's ...
They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree but in the case of Market ... has been making the regular pilgrimage to Queen Victoria Market (QVM).
“This year we're bringing the Festival fun to the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) – the new home of the festival's feature events in 2020. We're excited for ...
The dinner at Cutler & Co has sold out, but you can still catch Mattos doing a free demonstration at the Queen Victoria Market during the festival.
A day dedicated to eye-watering Sichuan cuisine is coming to Queen Victoria Market. • This cake is so fabulous, Gelato Messina is turning it into an ...

Sunday 16 February 2020

Heard Under The Sheds - 16/2/2020

Rockstar, Alice Cooper, was shopping in our market on Friday and attracted some attention as you would expect. One of our Traders is a long time fan and she desperately wanted to see her idol even suggesting that she could revive the old time practice of throwing a piece of underwear at him. Luckily for Alice (and the rest of us) she didn’t actually find him.

Stuck to your work - this Trader was adjusting signage on her container when she became attached. A pocketful of magnets latched on to the metal work and she couldn’t drag herself free without damaging her clothing. New age magnets are indeed very strong and it took a friendly neighbour to help her free.

Innovative co-operation - our photo actually captures two unusual examples of modern pedestrian traffic at QVM, but the three wheelchairs being pushed by one person gets our vote for co-operative effort.

A Trader said his concerns about trading under our sheds over the last few weeks were lessened when he visited his local shopping mall and found a similar pattern of small crowds and reluctant buying.

Five stars for one of our Traders - a rather sad looking customer approached a Trader in SBA asking for advice on where to get breakfast. The customer said he had a really bad hangover and needed a big Aussie style breakfast as a cure. Our Trader recommended Romeo & Theresa’s cafe in F Shed. About an hour later the customer returned to SBA full of thanks for the referral and very happy with the service and food. Well done to all involved.

A Trader commented that his colleagues are remarkably calm and philosophical about the current poor state of business but then how do you get angry at a virus?

A Trader commented that we have put a lot of effort into our connections with Chinese tourism including a Chinese language version of our website. We couldn’t have foreseen this coronavirus event but maybe a similar program with Indonesian or Malaysian cultures could be considered?

“Sometimes you feel the elements are against you”, says a Trader. Guttering is being installed on String Bean Alley Containers to stop the flow of water over the edge of the verandahs but the unusual light misty rain on Friday simply blew in to displays on the wind. Sigh!!!!!

A Trader asks if anybody else has noticed a lot of South American tourists lately?

More Heroes Of Victraders

Here are some more personalities that have graced the pages of Victraders over the last 10 years and left their mark in the rich tapestry of a great market.

Latest Retail News – 16/2/2020

Latest Retail News – 16/2/2020
1. JB HiFi avoided Christmas slowdown.
2. Sephora suspends in store makeovers in response to Coronavirus.
3. George Calombaris’s restaurant empire in receivership.
4. ABS says retail turnover fell 0.5% in December.
5. Deliveroo takes on McDonalds deliveries, breaking Uber Eats monopoly.
6. Costco launches online site with free shipping.
7. Baby Buntings website debacle affects first half.
8. Taco Bell and Taco Bill reach settlement.
9. Unilever to stop marketing food and beverages to children.

Articles Worth A Read:
Stealing market share the key to survival in 2020 -

How much we depend on Chinese Tourism -

QVM In The News - 16/2//20

Analysis by The Data App shows shopping centres like Broadway and Westfield Hurstville in Sydney and Queen Victoria Market and Box Hill Central ...
“A cutlery-optional dinner for 300 people at the Queen Vic Market is going to be something very special,” predicts Nourse. On the menu: Yemenite beef ...
Jump off at the 19th-century Queen Victoria Market: the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and a local icon. The market is host to boutique ...
Queen Victoria Market's carpark was built over Melbourne's first official cemetery, which still has thousands of bodies buried beneath the site.
The capital city of the state of Victoria, Melbourne is one of the gems of ... different kind of shopping experience, visit the Queen Victoria Markets.
Queen Victoria Market is putting one of China's spiciest regional cuisines in the hot seat. Spice up your life with eye-watering dishes from Dainty ...
As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Queen Victoria Market will host an event with unlimited chips on offer. You'll be able to fill up your plate ...
The Munro development – adjacent to Queen Victoria Market – has hit an important milestone with excavation now complete and construction starting ...