Today’s markets drawing in thousands

Unlike the fleamarkets of old which sold cheap knock-offs of branded gear, kitsch tissue box covers and garish pet rocks, modern markets have metamorphosed into high-end shopping experiences where the emphasis is on originality, charm, good food and small businesses support.

And, in the countdown to Christmas, shoppers now have an alternative to retail stores to find the perfect presents.

Shoppers are streaming to upmarket Christmas markets

Vincent B&B owner Sam Ramsay, who started holding regular Fine & Fabulous markets at her guesthouse a year ago, said they had become so popular that they had outgrown her own venue and would now take the form of pop-up markets.

Her Twilight Fine & Fabulous market at Lavender Blue two weeks ago “exceeded everyone’s expectations”, she said.

“Thousands of people came and they parked all the way up to Floradale. The food sold out in an hour.”

Ramsay said the support for up-market, well-branded designer markets was in line with the global community-spirited mindset of appreciating hand-made goods and supporting small, local entrepreneurs. “People appreciate the stories behind the products.”

She said she had collaborated with Urbanmakers markets for the Christmas Co-Lab Market on Saturday afternoon, November 4 at the Beacon Bay Country Club.

“My style of market is curated and I have strict criteria for good quality products and no knock-off or counterfeits, and I also ensure there is variety and not too much duplication.

“The response from vendors has been overwhelming and I have had to turn many away. I could have doubled the amount of stalls.”

Ramsay, who comes from a retail background in Cape Town, said she had noticed consumers were moving away from online and mall shopping in a bid to buy innovative, authentic wares made locally.

She said items such as French-inspired toys, laser-cut jewellery, Christmas decorations made from sea-shells and “amazing lemon tarts” were sought after.

“So many shops have closed in East London and I think the next step is not paying retail fees at a mall, but testing small businesses this way through markets. These markets are also taking market food to another level and we have a mini pop-up deli and gourmet burgers and hot-dogs.”

From the Heart sterling silver jewellery business owner Sandra-Lee Hensberg, who started Urbanmakers markets with ceramic artist Vanessa Holdstock five years ago, said people wanted original gifts and were shopping earlier for Christmas.

“We do curated markets so that there is no cross-over, with the focus on upmarket handcrafted gifts like bags, clothing and jewellery.

“A lot of people are moving from malls to markets,” she said.

Nahoon Laerskool admin officer Lizelle Erasmus said the school’s annual Christmas market attracted up to 2000 visitors. The “Kersmark” will be held on Friday, November 4 from 4-8pm.

“The stalls sell Christmassy things and are a more cost-effective way to shop. The atmosphere is festive and family-oriented and there are no mass-produced goods.”

l Other pre-Christmas markets not to miss include: The Gift Market at the Vincent Methodist Church today at 9.30am; the This & That Market on Sunday November 26 between 9am and 2pm at the Nutting Hall in Stirling; and the Twilight Market at Pinecreek on Friday evening, December 15. —