“Let’s go to the markets!”
Are you the kind of person who reacts to this seemingly inescapable weekend suggestion with glee, picturing breakfast waffles with ice cream, lots of dogs to pat and fresh bok choy to peruse? Or do you groan and roll your eyes, bored by the idea of wandering about aimlessly past stalls selling things you never seem to want to buy?
It’s ok. If you’re the former, we can help you get the most out of your market experience. If you’re the latter, perhaps we can change your mind!
Markets vary widely. Some are of the “flea” variety and may be made up mainly of trash-and-treasure secondhand goods, with some cheap imports thrown in. Others are a bit more “upmarket” and will come with their own logo and PR machine. These markets promise organic or artisan stalls selling beautiful veges or handmade crafts. There are also theme markets – retro rock ‘n’ roll ones are popular in our area, as are secondhand clothing ones.
Whatever your taste in markets, we recommend you do your research. Check out your local paper (online if you don’t get it hard copy) or look at specialist market websites. Your local city guide or regional tourism site should list a host of markets, locations and their dates.
You can also use Facebook Events! We find this a great way to track the next date of markets we’ve been to and loved before – the organisers will often have a page and create new events for each market. This is also an extremely convenient way to be reminded when they’re on. If you’re anything like us, you’ll frequently clock a cool-looking weekend market only to completely forget about it two seconds later!
For busy folk, we recommend Google Calendar. Every time you see an interesting market advertised somewhere, put it in your calendar. You may not go, but it’s a handy way to see what’s on on any given weekend at a glance and if you’re not doing anything – go to it!
How to prep for the best market experience
The most important accessories for a market, as with any activity in the outdoors, are sunscreen, a hat and water. Yes, some markets are undercover, so check the event information first. Remember you may have to park a fair way away and walk to the venue.
A market bag is a big plus – trust us, you don’t want to be hauling plastic bags around all morning with your possibly heavy purchases. If you can’t afford a fancy French one, pull out that tote you bought and never used. Or even take reusable shopping bags if you’re desperate!
Cash. We’ll say it again. CASH MONEY. Yes, more and more stall holders may have EFTPOS or PayWave but a heck of a lot don’t. You’ll want change to get a nice coffee and some poffertjes anyway, and having a few gold coins to pay for them makes everything easier.
And the best thing you can take to the market? A friendly smile. Many market stall holders are running small businesses and love to chat, talk about the weather and segue into their sales pitch. After that advice you’re on your own, we’ve never had much luck graciously extracting ourselves from the determined market salesman!
Tip from a pro: if you’re not going to get there early, for bigger markets prepare yourself for parking issues and crowds.
Love your local and support small businesses
We love supporting local and handmade, and what better way to seek out makers and creatives in your area than at the markets? Now that the weather is fine and we are in the mood to escape suburbia, we have been exploring country markets. The locations are lovely, the people so friendly and the goods of a wondrous variety!
One of the best things about markets is the opportunity for sniffing out unique gifts – for yourself as well as others. The necklaces I get the most compliments for were purchased at markets. And there are so many crafty and clever people making beautiful, tasty and handy items you just can’t get at the shops.
I ask you – who doesn’t swoon over a jar of homemade marmalade or some artisanal honey?
We went to a small handmade craft market just outside of Brisbane on the weekend. Despite the searing heat, it was smiles all round from stallholders and patrons amongst the small collection of brightly covered tents. It was held in the grounds of a tiny little wooden church and the combined effect of the stalls, food and drink on offer and live music was overwhelmingly charming.
Get up and go
So, markets are lively places full of local colour where you can shop for unique goods and fresh foods. They’re a great way to shop small and support small business owners in your area. They’re totally free and always an interesting way to spend a weekend morning. There are so many different types, you’re spoilt for choice in many urban areas when it comes to deciding where to go. What’s not to love?
Do you have a favorite market that you go to? Got any other good tips for market shopping? Tell us in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post about how to spend your weekend, check out our other post on country drives.