From London's Camden and Portobello, to Marrakech's souks and Amsterdam's Waterloo Square, some of the world's greatest markets started out as flea markets or as spatterings of stalls. Now two local girls are putting Tauranga on the market map, with their weekend Little Big Markets and the new Mount Flea market, writes Annemarie Quill.
Markets returned to the Mount last weekend with Little Big Markets kicking off the season again on Saturday, followed on Sunday by newcomer Mount Flea Market.
Naomi Morten can't wait.
"I never buy anything new. I get everything from markets or op shops. It is not about price. It's the thrill of discovery - finding something unique that no one else has - whether it is a trinket or gift, dress or shoes."
This year, Naomi is wearing those shoes on the other foot and morphing from market shopper to stallholder. Today, she makes her debut as a retailer, selling finger puppets at Little Big Markets.
"I was drawn to these markets last year with so many people showcasing talents. I love making things so why not give it a go?"
Naomi is one of scores of new stallholders this season. Organiser Rachelle Duffy started last year with a few stalls but, this year, the market has mushroomed to 80 stalls.
"The market has got so big so quickly that I am already talking to Mayor Stuart Crosby about expansion, and hope to introduce a food and liquor license soon. Lots of families come, not just to shop but eat. The gourmet pies sell over 200 pies in a couple of hours. This year, we have wood-fired pizzas and I am working on a license so you can have a glass of wine with that."
Rachelle says markets create a real community buzz. Local musicians will play at the markets, among them Tiki Taane who is performing an acoustic set for a special Christmas evening market on Thursday, December 22.
"We all need a boost after Rena and people are keen to get on board," says Rachelle.
The owner of another new stallholder, Mighty Meat, is donating some of his profits to fund school sports for kids whose parents cannot afford to pay.
The first season of The Little Big Markets hosted local sellers of art, clothing, photography, jewellery, childrenswear, iced tea, home baking and gourmet pies.
This year, they are joined by additional stallholders selling children's accessories and toys, homewares, beauty products, pottery, relish and preserves, textiles, flowers, soy candles, handbags, express massages, French-inspired sleepwear, baby slings, origami and more.
Sought-after fashion stalls include Rachelle's own label, Idiom, plus Riddle Me This and vintage clothing store New Bohemian.
"People cannot get enough of vintage; it is really hot right now. Even designers making new clothes have a vintage look, " says Rachelle.
The owner of New Bohemian, Nicole Ebbett, was among the first to sign up at the market. "More people are aware that I exist, which means lots of new customers." There is such demand that Rachelle is having to turn stallholders away.
Riding this buzz, Mountie Claire Beard has opened the first Mount Flea Market on Sunday at the Senior Citizens Club in Mount Maunganui. Claire, originally from Melbourne, is passionate about offering the community a market like the ones she has visited around the world.
"Markets have been a huge part of my life. Saturdays, my sister and I would get a croissant and coffee from the Vic market, have a look at a vintage flea market and then get fresh food from the South Melbourne market. It's a real social experience - more than just going shopping."
Ultimately, she would love the Mount to have a series of markets.
"The French do it right. My favourite market in the world is Clignacourt in Paris. It goes for blocks. Go there on a Saturday morning, buy yourself a pair of jeans, pick up a French stick and veges, then stop for a glass of wine and listen to some music."
Claire hopes the Mount Flea Market will offer a similar vibe.
"We want to create a community feeling, somewhere everyone feels welcome. Charity stalls have a table for free. There will be free face painting for kids, a band from the Polytechnic and table tennis.
"It will be somewhere people come and get a bargain, or buy a pot plant or have a coffee. Get rid of all of your old stuff or sell something you're passionate about or that you've made."
Another difference to existing Bay markets is that the Mount Flea Market will open year-round and is under cover.
"It will be held at the Senior Citizens Club in the Mount, a beautiful old hall with lots of character. With lots of help from Ernie (the president of the Senior Citizens Club), we have revamped the club.
"There will be a 'cafe' corner with benches that came from a school that was demolished in the earthquakes. It will sell Allpress coffee and bagels and freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices."
Like Little Big Markets, the Flea Market will have an assortment of stalls.
"There will be second-hand clothes, shoes, furniture, bicycles, 'garage sale' stalls, baby blankets, handmade pillows, beautiful cakes, a woman who makes amazing crocheted bikinis, dresses and tops, a little co-op corner with raw foods, organic handmade soaps and lip balms, string shopping bags and organic vegetables.
"The co-op corner will be somewhere people can sell anything organic, re-used, recycled, responsible, sustainable.
"There will also be flowers, a girl selling berries, Pam selling her free range eggs, sourdough bread and croissants made by a Frenchman, Laurent."
Meanwhile, at Little Big Markets, Rachelle plans to take the markets from the Mount's streets to cyberspace. She has experience of online retailing with her vintage fashion online store, Idiom. Now she is devising a website so the market stallholders can sell their goods online.
"It is the best of both worlds.
"You can come down and browse but, now, you will be able to do that every day of the year."
Rachelle believes the Mount markets are not a threat to existing retailers but, rather, will complement what they do.
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Rachelle Duffy - photo: Mark McKeown
"Before starting Little Big Markets we went through extensive talks with [the] council to ensure we are being fair to other retailers in the region.
"Markets add to retail trade rather than taking away from them because people come down to visit the area."
Mount market madness is also crossing the bridge. Rachelle has talked to Tauranga farmers' markets about possible joint ventures.
Over in Greerton Village, there is already a car boot sale every third weekend and a craft market on the last weekend of every month. Next up, Greerton Village's marketing manager, Victoria Thomas, is organising an artists' market on November 19.
"We are lucky to have a ready-made space, Greerton Village Square, begging to be used. It seems crazy not to fill it with art, music and heaps of people.
"The art market will be a trial to see if it becomes a regular event - we have markets coming from as far as Katikati."
Like Rachelle, Victoria feels markets are a boost to existing retailers.
"The artist market will complement the Greerton retail stores as well as the two well-established and existing markets."
Just in time for Christmas shopping.
To market we go
- Arataki Market: 2nd Saturday, 9am-noon. St Mary's, Girven Rd. Craft stalls, cheeses, plants, fresh produce, sausage sizzle, Devonshire teas. ph Claire 575 3238.
- Bethlehem Market: 1st & 3rd Sundays, 8am-noon. Bethlehem Town Centre. Art & crafts indoors. Ph 548 2977.
- The Cargo Shed Indoor Art: Craft Market, 5 Dive Cres. Creative Weekends on the waterfront Sat and Sun 10am-4pm.
- Farmers' Market: Saturdays, 7.45am-noon. Tauranga Primary School, 5th Ave. Local growers, farmers and artisan food producers selling direct to consumers. Ph 552 5278.
- Greerton Car Boot Sale: 3rd Saturday of the month, Greerton Village School. 7.30am-noon - Greerton Community Patrols.
- Greerton Hall: December 17, 8am-noon. Crafts, plants, produce, bric-a-brac. Ph Merv or Nancy 07 863 6697.
- Greerton Artist Market: November 19, 9am- noon
- Little Big Markets: Corner of Matai St and Maunganui Rd. Saturday, 9am-2pm November 5 and the first weekend on every month.
- Mount Flea Market: Senior Citizens Club. 8am-12pm. Sunday, November 6 and every first and third Sunday of every month.
- Mount Mainstreet Farmers' Market: Sundays 9am-1pm, Phoenix carpark. Home-grown/home-made. Ph 575 9911.
- Otumoetai Market: 1st Saturday of every month, Otumoetai Primary School. Crafts, books, fruit and veges and much more. Ph Briar 576 6605.
- Papamoa Community Produce Twilight Market: Every Thursday 4-7pm.
- Tahatai Coast School, Evans Rd, Papamoa. Stalls $15. Fran and Aaron Cooper, ph 544 7179.