By David Schout
After Terence Port’s parents immigrated to Melbourne from South Africa, their first business move was to set up a stall at Queen Victoria Market (QVM).
Combining a love of sport and an entrepreneurial spirit, they opened a shop that catered to Melbourne’s sports-loving public.
And now, 39 years on, their presence at the CBD institution remains.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and money involved,” Terence told CBD News.
“But we’ve built the family business from nothing to something.”
That business is Market Sports, which operates both a stall in D Shed laneway and a permanent store on Victoria St.
As the name suggests, they sell a range of sports gear and merchandise, from beanies to balls, and stubbie holders to scarves.
The Victoria St shop stocks a range of in-season stock, while the market stall sells previous seasons’ merchandise for a reduced price.
Terence’s parents, both in their 70s, work from the Victoria St store while he operates within the market itself.
“What I love most about the market is the customers. I’ve always been around people, I can’t be sitting around in an office.”
While the Ports have always been a sporty family, after moving to Melbourne they soon learned that one sport dominated the city’s fabric.
“Yep, definitely Aussie Rules is number one,” he confirmed.
Terence is “Hawks through and through”, something he says will “never change”.
So footy-mad is Market Sports, you’ll hear the sound of the 18 AFL teams’ club songs playing on loop in the background.
Despite his strong bias to Hawthorn, he doesn’t dislike the other now all-too-familiar tunes.
“Nah, I love them all. Although I seem to hear them when I’m sleeping, too,” he said, smiling.
“It gets the atmosphere going. People hear their song and walk in.”
Repeat business, he said, was one of the joys of the job. Often people return to buy a new footy scarf or beanie, and any given weekend will see a healthy dose of interstate fans keen to update their club colours.
While his passion for the place shines through, business struggles are also apparent.
Terence said he was unsure how many years he could continue his stall given the difficulty to sell stock.
“I love it to bits but it is getting harder.”
Some stalls, he noted, had a presence for a matter of weeks before realising profits were difficult to come by, and shortly after left.
He feels traders should have a greater say in the future direction of the historic establishment, given many have a wealth of experience in the day-in, day-out operations under the sheds.
Whatever the case, it’s clear the market, which has made up the bulk of his life, holds a special place in his heart.
You can find Market Sports at 123-129 Victoria St, or at the following QVM stalls:
Tuesday D 81-84, Thursday D63-66, Friday D61-64, Sat D99-102, Sun D69-72.