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Hot Cider, Bars, Street Food and 15,000 Customers: The Winter Night Market

Winter in Melbourne isn’t always warm — in fact, the chilly nights and wet weather often keep people indoors. But there’s one annual event which brings customers out in droves. Fire drums, over 30 street-food stalls, artisan wares from local designers, movies and live music: The Winter Night Market at Queen Victoria Market is in its fourth year, and is as busy as ever. We caught up with Square sellers at the Winter Night Market to hear about the buzz and get their tips for trading to over 15,000 visitors at Melbourne’s favourite midweek destination.

The Winter Night Market

The Little Creatures Bars are located throughout the Winter Night Market. They’re using Square Point of Sale to record their transactions and get a snapshot of the sales performance by device and bar.

You’re serving thousands of beverages a night to a bustling crowd of over 15,000. What’s been popular, and how do you stay on top of things?

We’ve got a really competent crew of serving staff and operational support to manage the logistics. Each night is different so we need to be reactive and responsive to a changing environment. Square Point of Sale has been a really effective point-of-sale system and gives us a quick and easy overview of sales and what products are selling best — Little Creatures Pale Ale is the most popular beer, and we’re selling quite a bit of the Block Lane Shiraz from Robert Oatley’s wine portfolio.

The Winter Night Market

Any advice for businesses considering trading at the Winter Night Market in the future?

Be prepared for the unexpected. The weather has been fairly stable and warm for the first month of operations, so things have definitely been busy.

Square seller Those Girls is also trading at the Winter Night Market and has adapted its menu to include hot apple cider, helping to keep guests warm during those chilly Melbourne evenings.

What helped you make the decision to update your original product range with seasonal specials? How do you know that it’s working?

As much as we love our iced teas, we learnt very quickly that Melbourne’s weather wouldn’t accommodate us to sell ice-cold drinks over winter. We wanted a business model that allowed us to operate 12 months a year, not just over the warmer months. So we decided to expand into a winter range and started selling our delicious hot apple cider in June this year at the Queen Vic Night Market. So far we have been overwhelmed by the positive response we have received from our beautiful customers. Our favourite moment is when someone takes their first sip and their eyes light up and a huge smile spreads across their face. That’s when we know we are doing something right!

The Winter Night Market

The queues at your stall can get very long — how do you keep cool, calm and collected during the rush?

We get a huge rush of adrenaline when we have a long line at our stall. It’s great to know that so many people want to try our product, but we also need to make sure that every customer gets the same level of service. To help manage this, we ensure our team is properly trained and that everyone has a specific job to do. We also utilise Square Point of Sale — it’s a great asset which helps streamline our processes, increase efficiency and minimise room for error.

What tips would you give to other businesses considering trading at events like the Winter Night Market?

Do something you are passionate about. You will be surprised at how much of a difference that passion can make to the end consumer. It is an amazing feeling when you can put your whole heart into something that gives others so much enjoyment.

Learn more about how Square Point of Sale can help you run your business in any corner of the globe. If you’d like to be a featured seller on the Town Square blog, get in touch with us at press-au@squareup.com.