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 ...

Sunday 9 February 2020

Heard Under The Sheds – 9/2/2020

Heard Under The Sheds – 9/2/2020

A Trader says it is refreshing to see CEO, Stan Liacos, candid comments in an email to Night Market Traders this week in which a plan of action was identified to tackle dwindling attendances at the Wednesday Night event.

A contender for best retail sign of the year is this one outside the Mary Martin Bookshop in String Bean Alley. “Just brilliant!” said one Trader.

Just when we thought we had heard it all about the Coronavirus these facts (??????) were revealed under the sheds this week –
    1.    Have you heard that the speed limit on the Great Ocean Rd. has been increased to 120kph because there are no more tourist buses.
    2.    The Chinese New Year has been changed to Year of the Bat.
    3.    The wire cage in C Shed may be retained to quarantine Traders returning from visits to China.

And on a more serious note – One of our Traders revealed that at Hong Kong Airport on 4th January this year he heard a public announcement urging any visitors to Wuhan to consult with their local doctor.

Containers in SBA are to get guttering in an attempt to avoid the pools of water shown in last week’s Heard Under The Sheds.

One Trader lamented that current takings are less than 10% of the peak in the “good old days”.

A Trader says he has noticed smaller queues at our ATMs.

A Trader was criticised by his neighbour this week for contemplating a day off due to poor trade. “How can we fix the gap problem if we don’t all pitch in during tough times?”

A Trader asks why he feels so tired and listless at the end of a really quiet trading day yet full of energy on a day when he has been rushed off his feet by customers. – something to do with adrenalin?

Heroes Of Victraders 2

Here are some more of the people at QVM that have helped personalise market life as seen by Victraders over the last 10 years.

Trader Seeks Forum To Re-organise The Upper Market – Part 2

This article was first launched back on 19th January and received a rather lengthy response from one of our readers. Well, the original author has decided to respond back. We have included the full article, the response, and now the author’s response below:

A Trader has written to us about the need to re-organise the Specialty Merchandise area of QVM.

He says “The Fresh Food Market is very well organised, logical, and makes shopping easy and attractive to customers. There are designated aisles for fresh fruit and vegetables, deli, meat &fish, and a large number of competing traders offering the greatest variety of goods to customers at the most competitive prices.”

“How different is the Specialty shop area!!!!!! It’s a total disaster. Everything in this area is made for customers to have the worst shopping experience. No system, no logic. Customers are just dragging themselves from aisle to aisle until they get totally exhausted and disenchanted and just leave without buying anything.”

“How do we rectify this?”

“In my opinion there has to be a forum which must have proper representation from QVM Management and Traders as well as customers to the work required.
As a quick band aid solution I would recommend:
- to put a printed Trader Directory together and add it to the QVM website. Hard copies could be made available at the Visitor Centre.
- to create a printed version of the existing QVM website to be distributed to customers to have some vague idea about what merchandise they can shop for.
- a proper action plan needs to be put together to completely restructure the speciality shop area and re-engineer its perception from a Trash and Treasure Market and turn it into Melbourne’s Best Value Shipping Outlet, which it could be.”

Have Your Say – click here.
20/1/2020 1934 - "I totally disagree with the comment that the specialty section of the market is a total disaster. QVM is a market it is not a shopping mall and people come to look around an operating market, enjoy the atmosphere, and talk and joke with the stallholders and, contrary to what some stall holders think, don't even notice the storage boxes etc that are part of the market. Many, many times I have heard people on Peel street on the top of sb alley or L shed talking among themselves asking "where shall we explore first" or "which aisle will we go down first" obviously looking forward to an adventure to possibly see what bargains they can find. With about 70% of our customers tourists from both intrastate, interstate and overseas we find that the majority did not come to the market to buy a particular thing but, as I said before, to look around the great Vic market and enjoy the atmosphere. I shall remain anonymous as did the author of the original comment."
Thank you for your contribution.  There is much to be said for QVM as an adventure - Ed

8/2/2020 1430 – “After reading the comment above, I thought long and hard and decided that if we are to have a serious and involved discussion about the need to re-organize and re-engineer QVM Specialty Shops Area, I must reply.

My first comment is that on one side I am delighted to see that my initial thoughts have triggered some comments, even if they are negative and apprehensive, but on the other side these comments have proven loud and clear that  one of the biggest challenges for QVM  is people's approach to any suggestions to make changes. And so we get comments like "If it has been good for 50 years why change it?" Yet in our life the one and only constant thing is ongoing change and the need for more ongoing change. 

Without the will to accept the need for change the QVM Speciality Shop Area is doomed to failure.

So I try to give you my opinion regarding the most important points this person made.
1. Well everybody is entitled to his or her opinion, it's a free country. However if someone is making comments regarding major issues like this the most preferred method is to come up with his/her suggestions as to how to solve the issues. However I am confident that the writer who made the comments is fully satisfied that the status quo is the best available option. Well I beg to differ!

2. The writer goes on to state that QVM is a market not a shopping centre....well in fact this is a true statement, however it's totally irrelevant. Reason being that customers local, interstate and overseas have a choice where they want to spend their money. So guess what, they will spend their money where they get the best value shopping package. That is the only relevant issue as QVM Speciality Shops are competing with all CBD retail outlets, shopping centres, and DFO’s. 
The only way customers will spend their money at the QVM Specialty Shop Area is because the QVM shops/traders are offering more attractive shopping options than all the other CBD retail outlets.
Do you seriously believe that potential customers will consider purchasing fashion ware or shoes or cosmetics in QVM Specialty Shops Area instead of Myers, David Jones, DFO, Zara, H&M etc. just because it’s the market? No a starting point customers have absolutely no idea what goods are available in QVM, no idea what shops are there, and where these shops are located. That is the very reason in my opinion it is of paramount importance to put a Trade Directory together, erect Trade Directory Advertising Boards right through QVM telling customers where to find different types of goods and where to find those shops. Equally important to have a printed version of this Trade Directory to be handed out to visitors to the market and in addition publish it on the QVM website.

3. The next comment is suggesting that customers in the QVM enjoy playing "hide and seek" to explore what stalls are in the next aisles. Well that's fine, however, I believe that it is most irresponsible to downgrade  this discussion to "he heard this, she heard that...". Making decisions on the basis of hearsay is not a very good scientific method. 

I just mention at this juncture that I have had several customers complaining about lack of any system in a market and especially customers who need to return to the market with their husbands or wives find it absurd that the trader has no idea where his or her stall will be the next day as it keeps changing every day. The only thing we definitely have is total present a shoe shop is trading next to an electronic accessory shop and a hand-made cosmetic shop next to a hardware store lack of any system so the customer has only one choice which is to spend hours and hours by wandering through all the aisles to have some vague idea about what sort of goods he/she can shop for. Is it good for the customers? Well I have heard several angry customers complaining about this however the best way to find out what customers really thing is to do a customer survey which will reveal without any doubt what customers thing. 

However I am confident that making assumptions about customer satisfaction without knowing the real facts is very dangerous and irresponsible. I am fully convinces that the major stakeholders like QVM Management, traders and customers are entitled to know what the truth is. And based on the findings of a survey, an Action Plan can be put together outlining the major directions as to how to rectify this terrible mess in the QVM Speciality Shop Area.

So where do we go from here?

Obviously I do not wish to downgrade the most exciting project of how to restructure and re-engineer the QVM Speciality Shop Area to a personal dialogue between myself and another person who made some comments.

In reality as I said before I am looking for the most adequate forum to discuss all these vital issues about our beloved QVM which in fact pays the wages to QVM Management, determines if traders make money or lose money and if customers are prepared to convert themselves from visitors to money spending customers which of course is the lifeblood of QVM.”

Have Your Say - click here.

Latest Retail News – 9/2/2020

Latest Retail News – 9/2/2020
1. Unilever considers the future of its T2 tea stores.
2. Coronavirus expected to lead to delays, higher prices, and reduced spending.
3. Aldi launches app focussing on nutritional value of foods.
4. Nearly 4 million Australians now use food delivery services.
5. Handbag brand, Colette, enters voluntary administration. 140 stores at risk.
6. Icecream brand, Ben & Jerrys, drops its “happy cows” claim after lawsuit.
7. H&M has new online plan for Australia.
8. Coles says its Christmas trade exceeded expectations.
9. Fashion brand, Tigerlily, lets CEO and CFO go in major shake-up after rebrand.
10. Australian Bureau of Statistics says retail sales fell 0.5% in December.
11. Four’N’Twenty pies launch in US convenience stores.
12. Bushfires have devastated honey production according to Capilano.

Articles Worth A Read:
Huge success in business is largely due to luck -

Why the retail store is here to stay in Australia -

Tuesday 4 February 2020

New QVM Video Showing Up Strong On Social Media

This video was released on social media on Monday and Traders will notice a few familiar faces.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Heard Under The Sheds – 2/2/2020

A Customer from Vancouver was excited to experience Melbourne’s famous four seasons in one day (well a few anyway) this week. He was assured that snow was unlikely.

A Trader says it was heart-breaking to see tourist buses turn up mid afternoon on the 43 degree Friday when most Traders had left.

It’s all in the name - a Trader tells us of a Canadian customers who was delighted to experience Melbourne’s art gallery offering including the Victorian Arts Centre on Southbank and some smaller near-city galleries. She was looking forward to checking out the Men’s Gallery in Lonsdale St. until our Trader explained it may not contain the art she was looking for. (Men’s Gallery is a strip club.)

A Trader suggested we needed to get the Coronavirus into perspective and pointed out that there were anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 deaths from influenza in the US this past season.

On a similar vein, a Trader suggested the economic downturn, severe Australian bushfires, and now the Coronavirus travel restrictions are creating a perfect storm for retailers.

A Trader says he could handle Thursday and then Friday’s extreme heat but Saturday’s humidity was just too much.

A different perspective on String Bean Alley - The view from the top of String Bean Alley towards the city skyline is one of our most photographed spots in the market but the combination of some collected water, and a nearby trader’s model boat created this interesting vision.

That pool of water is on the verandah of one of the SBA containers. Many of the containers suffer from weather exposure and the problems for customer movement are obvious. One of our engineering/architectural advisers (we have many of them under the sheds) suggested a couple of small holes could be drilled in the decking to allow water to drain away. Sounds like a reasonable solution.

A trader reports that his two biggest sales on Wednesday night were to young children who were apparently spending their Lunar New Year gift money.

Heroes Of Victraders

Victraders has identified itself as a website for Traders at the Queen Victoria Market for more than 9 years. It is those Traders and the management staff who look after the market that are the real heroes of this website and we have included many of them in articles across the years. Here are just some of the personalities featured on our pages. We will add more over coming weeks.

The End Nears For Victraders

The Editor of Victraders is retiring from the Queen Victoria Market and new content will cease within the next month or so. There will be no more articles and no more weekly emails but there is a good reason why this is not bad news.

Victraders started back in 2011 when a few members of a Trader Focus Group (set up by the CEO at the time) decided that Traders needed better communication. There were printed Trader Bulletins then but they were largely dismissed by Traders and more likely to end up in the rubbish than actually read.

 Victraders attempted to bring some balance to discussion and add in a little fun along the way. “Bringing balance” didn’t just impose on management but also on some Traders who could bring their own brand of propaganda to arguments.

But times have changed. QVM communication has come ahead in leaps and bounds. Traders now receive regular communication in many forms with printed Trader Bulletins (containing lots of useful information) being supplemented by emails, Trader hub sessions, and even SMS. Timely warnings of sudden changes in and around our market, mean that Traders are fully informed on matters that may affect their business.

Feedback and comment have been regularly invited, and the creation of Precinct Managers has improved communication. Getting direct management access has pleased many Traders (well at least those who got what they wanted). It is difficult to underestimate the value of Peter, Russell, and Renato wandering our halls and aisles.

A rejuvenated Trader Representative Committee will improve Trader input on policy decisions and  the QVM Committee of Trustees gives Traders a voice at the highest level.

Communication at QVM has improved dramatically and the future is bright. The departure of Victraders will not leave a vacuum, unless you have come to rely on Guru Pete’s weekly Facebook  horse racing tips, and that is a problem that may require advice beyond this article.

By Greg Smith.

Trader Burnout – Are We Prepared?

Please take a minute to read this excerpt from an article in Inside Retail last week -

“While all workers across a number of industries can experience burnout, those at the top of the ladder (ie. CEOs and business owners) can be at increased risk. These workers have a large catalogue of varied responsibilities, wear a number of hats within the business environment and tend to have maximum accountability to other stakeholders. Ad hoc and/or extended hours can also increase the risk of exhaustion, and, particularly in the case of business owners and entrepreneurs, there is an additional emotional and mental investment in the everyday activities within a business, making it harder to switch off and create an appropriate work-life balance.

Aren’t we identifying every full time market Trader in that description? And aren’t current conditions making it harder to avoid burnout?

Do we have the trader policies to address burnout or are we simply applying old rules to a new dilemma? One Trader recently took an extended break on advice from his doctors. He is reluctant to label his condition but I am going to call it burnout. On his return he presented a Doctor’s certificate and asked that his absence be treated as special sick leave. Part of his recovery was to regain control of his life and business and part of that control relates to taking time off when it was needed. He was told that his absence would be taken as part of his normal leave which means that he is now severely restricted with days off and that is not going to help a Trader struggling to get back to health.

Clearly we don’t want any abuse of leave systems. Some Traders have abused leave provisions in the past with the worst of them finding every reason in the book to stay away during quiet trading times whilst keeping their entitlements. That abuse cannot be allowed, but burnout is different. Burnout is a symptom of these times, and maybe we need new rules. Burnout, supported by medical diagnosis, may need a different approach.

Burnout victims will be given plenty of advice with coping. That will include adjusting work/life balances, and taking control of their lives.

The retail world is full of change and we are constantly told to respond to change if we wish to survive. Maybe that rule needs to apply to leave policies as well.

By Greg Smith

More Reading:

Latest Retail News – 2/2/2020

Latest Retail News – 2/2/2020
1. A Sydney Dan Murphy store sells a 72 year old bottle of whiskey for $150,000.
2. David Jones same store sales slip, but online up 61%.
3. Treasury Wine Estates (Penfolds etc.) cuts guidance.
4. Australian CEO’s pessimistic about business prospects even before bushfires hit.
5. Industry groups want banks to make tap’n’go cheaper.
6. Aussie brewer releases hemp beer.
7. Booktopia buys Co-op Book business.
8. Greenlit Brands (Fantastic Furniture, Freedom, Snooze) reports $287m loss in 2019.

Articles Worth A Read:
(Caution- some of these articles paint a fairly sad picture. The article about 2020 being a dismal year also suggests that Australia is unlikely to go into recession. We seem to be experiencing a torrent of bad news right now and maybe time will give us some balance - Ed.)
Nordstrom And Others Introduce Bars To Boost Sales -

Five Reasons Why Legacy Retail Won’t Survive This Decade -

Ecommerce In The UK Surpassed 25% of Holiday Season Sales -

2020 To Be A Dismal Year For the Australian Economy -

Retail Isn’t Dying – It’s Just Changing -