If you love markets and all things hand made, you’ve probably had this thought at least once- wouldn’t it be cool to run my own market? The thought is quickly thrown into the ‘too hard’ basket and we go on our merry way. But here at The Market Roll, we spoke to 3 of Melbourne’s most successful market organisers and asked them just how hard (or easy) it actually is.
From baby themed to underground alternative, to designer clothes to fresh food – Victoria has 1000s of markets. Each one of them was born from the inspiration and motivation of its founder.
“A lot of creative types were being forced further and further away from the city due to high rents and our market enabled them to retain a presence in the inner city.” Christian, Founder of Rose Street Artists Market, says it was super important that he had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve and how he wanted to differentiate his market from traditional markets.
“The hardest aspect about getting The Rose St. Artists’ Market off the ground was trying to educate the public that we were something different to the usual market.” Christian’s goal was to change the country craft mentality of many market goers. “Prior to Rose Street, a lot of people wouldn’t expect to get quality art or design from a market.” Rose Street has changed that.
Courtney and Sam from Blackbird Market gave birth to their market dream while skipping a Uni class one day. “We were talking about how we wanted to shop in a place that had emerging designers as well as sold vintage. It had to play really excellent music and would also have delicious food and cider. The next thing we knew we’d created Blackbird!”
Is it really that hard? Allison, from Daylesford Makers Market, found that securing the right venue was a challenge from the very beginning. “Finding a venue that was affordable was challenging. Our first two markets were held outdoors as part of our local Sunday bric-a-brac market, thanks to the generosity of the owner.” Allison found that it took a fair amount negotiation to find an indoor venue that was not only the right price, but was also the right size and included insurance.
It seems that not only are there initial set up challenges but these continue into the day to day running of the market. Christian reflects on what challenges he faces, “The most difficult aspect is managing all the artists and designers who are part of the Rose Street community and ensuring that they’re all having a successful and enjoyable time at our market.”
Allison has taken a more communal approach but still faces her own challenges, “Our market is run by a committee of ace people. We each have roles and tasks that we carry out for the market.” She adds, “But at the end of the day we are volunteers, with businesses of our own and lives to run, so it is can be demanding on everyones time.” One challenge that Courtney shares with many small businesses, is just how do you “get the word out about what it is we do at Blackbird [insert any business here.] ”?
Of course, with all challenges, external support can come from lots of different sources. Allison reflects on the positives of being a part of a small community. “We were able to draw on a lot of support, but it was still hard work. The local council have been brilliant in helping us to grow the market, and it is now a popular local event.” Daylesford Makers Market also gathered support from magazines and newspapers. “We drew experience from our circle of friends and family who had their own businesses,” Christian from Rose Street goes on, “but a lot of what we did was trial and error.”
With all our research into creating our Market Roll directory, one thing stood out. Victoria has a hell of a lot of markets! There seems to be a new one popping up every weekend – who’s complaining? Sadly though, many of these markets don’t stick around for too long. What’s the secret and what advice can these 3 success stories offer budding market organisers?
Allison says: “Firstly, think about whether there is really a demand for a new market in your area. You can risk diluting the income for stall holders. Keep the standard of goods high and the stall fees affordable! Finally, be friendly and encourage your stall holders to be friendly too. It’s what brings people back to your market!”
Christian says: “Think about why you want to get involved in markets. If your main motivation is money, then it’s probably not the best business for you to be involved in.”
Courtney says: “Organising a market is a labour of love, a lot of hard work goes into it each and every market day. After a full days work and you’re still up at 1am writing emails to stallholders, it’s going to be so much easier to stick with, if it’s something that you really love.”
Are you, or have you been, a market organiser? What are your thoughts?
Special thanks to Allison, Christian and Courtney for being so generous with their time for this article.