Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Year, new dreams, new market?

The children are baking chocolatey treats without me. Ken Oath! is water-blasting the paths around the flat-roofed 1950s architect-designed, U-shaped, dream-home to spruce it up for possible sale (tempted?). And I am dreaming about an item from my "Christchurch would be a far cooler place to live if only..." list. Sometimes this list is just long and depressing and sometimes it screams "opportunity!". As a real-estate agent would put it, some things about Christchurch are "ripe for refurbishment".

See one of the things I wish Christchurch had is a gorgeous, dangerously tempting, regular, contemporary craft/design/handmade goods market. I'd love to see a local version of the fabulous markets I've gone to all around the world. A market so good I would mark it in my diary the second I hear about it and arrange to meet my friends there. Somewhere I'd proudly take my design-aware visiting-from-out-of-town sister or friend to.

Auckland and Wellington have regular contemporary craft markets springing up all over the place enabling makers can find their niche and have regular opportunities to sell. But still nothing similar in Christchurch. Christchurch may be over-run with markets but none of them do it for me either as a shopper or a stall-holder. Call me greedy or deluded but I think what this place needs is something like Melbourne's Rose St Artists market.

My dream market would meet the following criteria:
  • Indoors. Non-negotiable. No discussion. Outdoor markets in Christchurch are grim and risky for selling handmade goods for at least 10 months of the year.(Christchurch is simply not the tropical South Pacific paradise sold to all those poor flimsy-frocked Japanese brides who must get hypothermia as they punt down the Avon on the happiest day of their lives!)
  • Handmade and/or designer, quality goods only (ie no second-hand stuff, no $2 shop type stuff, no hotdog man pumping fumes onto stock) with an application/selection process for stall-holders.
  • Great variety of goods including ceramics, glassware, clothing, jewellery, textiles, childrens things, homewares and accessories. Not just chick-crafts but also the sorts of things that blokes produce and sell. I'll get into trouble for this, but cool stuff, not naff stuff.
  • Stuff you can't find any old day in the shops or what is the point?
  • A market where artists/craft artists/object art makers sell their "diffusion" lines of homewares, clothing, accessories or jewellery. Where art and design students book a stall to sell off their end of year show work or treat it like a mini exhibition opportunity. Where emerging designers test new lines. Where crafters supplement their online sales. Where makers sell lines not suited to retailing because the markup makes them too expensive or which don't sell well online because customers need to touch them. Where out of town makers whose goods are not otherwise sold here come and sell.
  • Held regularly. I'd love to think Christchurch could sustain a regular market (monthly? quarterly?) with a rotating list of stall-holders who could book in as a oncer or regularly. A different mix of stall-holders each time means it stays interesting for shoppers.
  • Reasonable stall costs.
  • Venue. What is the perfect venue in Christchurch? Roomy but not too expensive or hassley to hire. Preferably comes with tables. Bit of character would be great. Easy access via car, bus, foot or bike. Near a money machine. Near cafes or with enough room to have a tearoom section of the market. Near foot-traffic or anywhere and so good it becomes a destination in itself? Set venue or popping up in a different place each time like a pop-up shop?
  • No entry charge on the door for shoppers. Never, ever, ever. Why is it that the craft markets with the naffest goods are also the ones with door charges? Yikes, now I'm really going to get into trouble.
  • For locals. Tourists could come too of course but once things are designed specifically for them they become grim.
  • On a Sunday because nothing ever happens here on Sundays.

Too greedy? Deluded? Would it work or would it bomb? Would you book a stall? Would you shop there? Am I the only person in Christchurch dreaming about this? Please tell me your thoughts. What is your dream-market like? Do you run a market? What works and what doesn't? Should I just make it happen or should you! Should we do it together? So many questions!

The image above is of The Finders Keepers markets. Read about it Christchurch people and weep!


  1. Now you've got me wishing for a market EXACTLY the way you've described it!! I love living in ChCh but I wish we had something like this - maybe fortnightly (that would satisfy my shopping urge). I might finally stop dithering and actually start creating so I could be a part of it!! Great idea!

  2. Sounds like a great idea! I probably wouldn't be the best person to organise one, but as a stallholder and shopper I'm in. Indoor is definitely good, my current experience of outdoor markets is far too much wind. I don't have many ideas on venues though. Maybe one of those big old houses that are semi-open to the public/can be hired out? A rotating mix of stall-holders would be a good idea. It would be good for shoppers and stallholders. Shoppers might be more likely to buy if they aren't sure if you'll be there next time, and it keeps up the variety. Plus it gives the stallholders a better opportunity to shop if they're not selling each time!

  3. Sounds great and I'd definitely come. But haven't you just described what the Arts Centre market could and should be? :)

  4. Anna, I used to think that too. But plenty of people must like that market as it is (just not me...) I'd rather see something completely new somewhere else.

  5. Yes, do it! I'd love to know what else is on your "Christchurch needs" list.

  6. Yup, ideal market description above. Take out the "indoor" part and it does start sounding like the Arts Centre though. I suppose a good start is to brain storm the venue.

    Then the next hardest part, if it was indoors, is making it visible. How do you let people know where it is and when, if its hidden indoors. Not like the Arts Center, smack bank in the middle of the prettiest part of the city. Mmmmmm...

    I do struggle with the "only handmade goods" however. I think some people have a nack for finding gorgeous vintage goods and displaying well. It would be a shame to exclude them. If the market had guides for ideal presentation, that might solve it. Perhaps keeping size of stall restricted may help. ...My goodness fraught with issues! Crafty market organisers fast getting my respect!

  7. I would love to see more of this sort of market here in Wellington as well. The new one at Frank Kitts is a start but it is in an underground carpark - cold, dark and dirty. Maybe we should just start something. I also like the idea of the Handmade and Vintage Market they have in the UK.

  8. We are coming to visit in a few weeks time and I have been searching to see if there is any crafty markets on whilst we are there.

  9. I don't know of any other than the usual regular ones ie
    I keep an eye on this site
    and the latest thing I'm looking forward to is