Sunday Markets appear to be getting more and more popular these days, possibly because more and more people are unemployed and this is one way to try and gain a position and try to make an income independently.
Every weekend, there are markets, usually single day markets, and sellers arrive at dawn, and even earlier in some markets, with their cars, trailers and vans loaded with as many things as they can fit in after they stack the tables, chairs, marques and needed stuff to set up their stalls.
Market fees range from $10, rather rare, to $80 or more, and food vans are charged some astronomical rates that make me wonder how they make any profit, especially if they have staff and wages to pay. The average rate is around $15-$25 a stall of 3X3 metres which is enough to set up a marque or about 3 tables and start trading.
Markets are not free for the stall holders. You have to purchase tables which can be quite costly. I bought 2 tables from Bunnings at $48 each and another for $58. A single sturdy chair was $38.50 The Umbrella cost $25 and the stand another $15. The tarpaulin was $15 and some people have carpets and carpet pieces for underfoot. Add the cost of table cloths or table covers, and a marque which prices from $100 upwards, and you can see that the stall holder has a good outlay before he presents one item for sale. Also add on the cost of Travel, petrol and time.
Most markets have started to claim hand made or home made items, under the loose term of ‘Creative’ which somehow implies that the items on sale are made by the sellers and not manufactured items. In the past markets were virtually flea markets selling second hand items, and discarded stuff found at friends places or from tips and disposal sites. In the 70’s when I was a struggling student trying to pay the rent I started selling my stuff at the Trash and Treasure Markets, and these were all Flea markets reminiscent of the old Rag and Bones Vendors who collected junk off the streets and sold them too.
An aunt seeing what I was doing, not only gave me her ‘junk’ but also managed to get her friends to donate to me stuff they were throwing out or giving to charity. In this way I managed to survive a lean student period selling what I had for a few coins. I lived in the outskirts of Melbourne then and frequented the markets in that area. They were huge junk markets, and I would lay a blanket on the ground and lay what I had on the blanket for sale. Its funny that now I am old…45 years later..I am trying markets again to eke out a meagre living.
There are a lot of hand made and home made items selling at the markets. They are mainly jewellery, knitting and sewing and also timber products. Many plants and also the odd artist and me the photographer with the Moon photos trying to find a niche that is different to the ones already selling. The flea market type goods are not as many as they used to be the majority being ‘not second hand stuff’, which is actually a pity as people love searching bargains with the second hand stalls.
People now travel all over the state after markets. A friend who sells jewellery he makes, will travel the Gemfest markets and shows with his products. I have only been doing the markets a few months and already I have been to Manly, Wynnum, Beenleigh and Sapphire a year ago. Its interesting that I cannot get a stall at a closer or local market, I tried Cleveland and was turned down…so am forced to venture afield like to Maryborough, Numimby, Bribie Island, Caboolture, Mt Gravatt and Kuraby…all a long way to travel involving an overnight stay and ferry costs of $120 to leave the Island I live on, making me wonder if its worth persisting as well as the trouble and time it takes.
However, it is something to do, something to be a part of and an experience to share. Selling at Markets is a fun experience. One makes new friends who are doing the same thing, and we buy off each other and talk about how hard it is to make a living with markets. If one does sell a lot, one gets defensive and protective, especially if the other stalls have not sold anything or sold very little. We all watch the others and know when sales are being made, and we all care about each other as if people come, then the market is successful and sellers are happy.