2020 Glenferrie Festival


The annual Glenferrie Festival took place on Sunday 1 March, drawing a 90,000-strong crowd of locals and visitors according to the Glenferrie Traders Association (GTA). The sun came out for families and friends watching roaming performers, eating and drinking tasty treats, browsing stalls, and getting involved in carnival rides and fun activities.

From food to bars to retail, many of our local businesses made an appearance with a street stall alongside external vendors. While all seem to enjoy the buzz the festival brings our local shopping precinct, for local traders who partly fund the event, participating in the festival can come at a cost. The Glenferrie Festival is organised by the Glenferrie Traders Association (GTA), who receives funding from the City of Boroondara through the Glenferrie Special Rate charged on commercial premises in the Glenferrie Hawthorn area. Additionally, the GTA receive funding specifically for the festival through Boroondara Triennial Operational Grants.

Many of our local Glenferrie businesses say they come out for the day for exposure and promotion but, as one trader noted, "it's definitely not money making - we lose money if anything". So what happens when smaller local businesses cannot afford to take the financial hit of appearing at the festival?

The increasing appearance of external vendors at the festival has the trader community divided. Many believe there are too many vendors from outside Glenferrie taking business away from local traders, while others such as Tracy from Callipso One see their inclusion as necessary to complete the festival as a whole, especially when local traders choose not to participate. This could become a self-fulfilling prophecy if more and more traders become deterred by non-local vendors, so more non-local vendors are brought in to replace them.

Multiple Glenferrie business-owners echoed the sentiment: it is the GLENFERRIE Festival. One asked, "what do they have to do with Glenferrie? It's our money", while another believes "it should be local businesses showing what they have to offer, instead of a cash grab". Guzman y Gomez Hawthorn elected to close their business this year, having experienced unjustifiable financial loss in previous years due to high food competition in the busiest part of the strip. "There's lots of foot traffic that just doesn't translate into sales," said owner Ramsen. When the day involves employing extra staff at Sunday rates, renting extra furniture and cooking equipment, and purchasing extra stock, participation in the Glenferrie Festival becomes a significant investment.

Besides restaurants and cafes, Glenferrie retailers notice "people aren't necessarily here to buy from shops, they're here for the festival atmosphere," said Wren from The Toy Workshop. "It's brilliant for local families and beyond. As a retailer, it's a lot of extra work for little or no gain". Some Glenferrie fashion traders suggested stimulating a 'market' atmosphere and promoting retailers on the strip, instead of just food and drink vendors. This would prepare attendees to buy products from local stores and make the day profitable for local retailers.

So what are our local traders investing in when they participate in the Glenferrie Festival, if not rewarded with profits on the day? The Continental Deli see it as a great opportunity to showcase their business and their handmade sandwiches. Relatively new businesses Four Kilo Fish and Body Catalyst said the festival was a great way to connect with local residents who may not have known their business was there. Megha from Cafe Blac said they participate because it is a way to be involved with the local community and it adds value to the local area.

When the Glenferrie Festival organisers say it aims "to make the Festival all about showing off the best of Glenferrie and to entice patrons both local, far and wide into the precinct and to return to the precinct again and again", it can be difficult when participating means justifying a significant financial investment for an incalculable return of exposure. "[The festival] needs to realise that for it to be viable for local traders, they need to not lose money," said one local trader, who chose not to participate in the day.

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