By Jack Hayes
For many people, a trip to the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) conjures a sense of awe and wonder.
Tourists are drawn to more than 140 years of history; regulars return for their customary catch-ups with friendly traders and, for occasional visitors, an immediate shot of nostalgia every time they walk through the sheds.
Of the 10 million people that grace the sheds and halls of the market each year, only a select few people can boast of having grown up among the hustle and bustle of stalls; Irene Georgiou from Victoria Market Gifts and Engraving is one of those people.
After taking over the family business from her father in 2013, Mrs Georgiou has continued to build their business which started as a “tiny stall” in 1982.
“Dad moved here from London and decided to start his own business. He saw the market as the perfect place and became its first-ever engraver,” Mrs Georgiou said.
“When he first started, it was just a single stall using a car battery pack to run everything, now we have grown to what it is today.”
After almost 40 years at the market, Victoria Market Gifts and Engraving has become one of the most reputable engraving facilities in Melbourne.
Specialising in hand engraving of gifts ranging from pendants and bracelets to necklaces or animal tags, Mrs Georgiou now has more than 25 years of experience at Melbourne’s most iconic market.
“The stall is a few years older than me. I have grown up here since the day I was born,” Mrs Georgiou said.
“When I was little, I would run around the market with kids from other stalls while our parents would work. It was an amazing environment to be in as a kid and is one that I will always cherish.”
The ever-present family connection between the market and Mrs Georgiou does not stop simply at growing up among the stalls to now owning her own.
Mrs Georgiou met her husband, Suparoek, when he was working at the market while over from Thailand to study in Melbourne.
The pair was introduced by Cameron Short, the son of QVM’s Robyn Faulkner from Inner Essentials.
“We first met through mutual friends at the market, then began to hang out a little more, then started dating and finally got married last year,” she said.
“We had our beautiful wedding over in Thailand. Thinking back on it now, we were incredibly lucky to have timed it before all of this [COVID-19].”
Not immune to the impacts of a global pandemic herself, Mrs Georgiou said the past six months had been incredibly challenging for her business. Still, with support from the City of Melbourne, she has been able to launch her new website.
“I’m a very social person. The hardest part for me has been staying away from all my friends, fellow traders and our regulars at the market,” Mrs Georgiou said.
“We have so much fun at the market. I never thought I would actually miss work, but it is going to be great to get back.”
With the impending return to retail shopping at the market in sight, Mrs Georgiou is excited to welcome shoppers back to Victoria Market Gifts and Engraving.
With on-the-spot engraving only taking a matter of minutes, shoppers can continue to venture throughout the market while a huge range of stainless-steel gifts is expertly engraved.
For more information visit: itsengravable.com.