South Melbourne Market’s success: a tale of community

South Melbourne Market’s success: a tale of community

Why is the South Melbourne Market flourishing when others like Prahran and Queen Victoria Market (QVM) seem to be losing their way and their local visitors?

The South Melbourne Market is slowly becoming the best village market in Melbourne, and it’s a testament to the vibrancy of the community of traders that make South Melbourne unique.

There is still a long way to go to realise the potential of the South Melbourne Market, but our visitor numbers and feedback in our surveys indicate that we are on the right track.

While the City of Melbourne’s new development of QVM seems focused on attracting international tourist attention, South Melbourne focuses on serving the local community and Melbourne shoppers. This principle lies at the heart of our decisions, ensuring the market’s relevance and appeal to those who call South Melbourne and the surrounding areas home.


The traders have a community-centric approach that brings a sense of belonging and ensures a consistent and loyal customer base, creating a sustainable and thriving marketplace.


Sustainability is another cornerstone of our approach. We maintain high occupancy rates and support an eclectic retail mix by ensuring that rents remain manageable. This balance ensures something for everyone at the market, from everyday essentials to unique artisanal products. We don’t always get this right, but over the past four years, traders have received unprecedented levels of support from the community and ratepayers.

The charm of the South Melbourne Market lies in its unique character. The old, quirky building, with its strange slopes and non-compliant features, adds to the market’s shopping adventure. It creates an unforgettable shopping experience, full of nostalgia and vibrancy. Our market’s quirks have become part of its identity and charm, evoking a sense of history and tradition.

Our traders are the heart and soul of the market. From family-run businesses like Georgie’s Harvest to standout cafes such as Proper & Sons and Canteen, and generational favourites like Rod’s, SM Dim Sims and Moses & Co. These traders and their connections to the community provide great products and services, making the South Melbourne Market what it is. No-one can take credit for the brilliance they bring.

But let’s not drink the Kool-Aid too strongly – challenges remain. Overcrowding during peak times, traffic congestion, and concerns about the market becoming too upscale amid a cost-of-living crisis are issues the market’s board must address. In my view, the next step is to enhance accessibility and connectivity. Critical projects include extending and connecting the tram stop to the market, opening up the north-facing York St side, and developing the York St car park with Melbourne’s best food hall. These initiatives will set the standard and widen the increasing gap between South Melbourne and QVM and Prahran Market.

The success of the South Melbourne Market is one of continuous improvement and focused traders. When we keep our vision for the future simple and stay out of the way of the traders, great things will come. We value your input and encourage you to share your ideas for improving the market. Together, we can make the South Melbourne Market even better. •


Marcus Pearl is a board member of the South Melbourne Market, a Councillor of the City of Port Phillip and former Mayor.

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