Are you struggling to get your stock into a boutique? Are you stuck with stock that you just can't find a buyer for? The most basic form of retail, the market, might just be your solution.

desray.jpgIn the early 1990s, before YDE opened its doors, Greenmarket Square was the number one place to shop for young, funky street wear. Almost twenty years later the general impression of markets is that these are the places tourists visit when looking for cheap curios. But thanks to the recession, markets are once again experiencing resurgence as shoppers hunt for bargains and young entrepreneurs hunt for shoppers.

Getting the most mileage from your Rand is not the only reason why markets are becoming more attractive. The sea of sameness that fills our shopping centres has created a sense of apathy in the shopper and so shopping outside of the mall is becoming more attractive.

But when you mention selling at a market to a young South African designer guaranteed the response will be one of horror. Having grown up in a world of global fashion brands and shopping centres, the idea of selling designer goods (by themselves, directly to the public) between a stand that sells Rasta beanies and another that sells boerewors rolls is enough to send most young designers into a state of apoplexy. But what most young designers fail to understand is that their primary business is not designing clothes. Their primary business is selling them. And if they are struggling to get into a boutique then why not sell at a market?


All labels start somewhere

A number of South African and international designers started selling their goods at markets. Karen Ter Morshuizen started selling her Lunar label at the Bryanston Organic Market 1995 and got her first private client from the market, which helped move her into the wedding dress business; something she did for 7 years. Cape Town label Desray (pictured above right) started selling at Greenmarket Square in 1991. After three years she moved into YDE . In fact Paul Simon started YDE because he wanted to create a launch pad for those designers who had cut their teeth selling at markets. Even couture designer JJ Schoeman started selling at the Boksburg Market. "When I started at the market, I didn't have another place. It was the only option available."

Selling at the market proved to be an invaluable experience the designers. "I gained a lot of confidence, selling skills, product skills and business acumen. Stuff no one can teach you or tell you," JJ (pictured right)  said. "The first month turned out to be a total disaster and I had to learn about the market first; what sells and what does not and also why.  I worked there for just over two years, until I had the confidence and finances to move onto the next level."

Desiree Dixon from Desray agrees that running a stand at a market formed the basis of the business skills she has today, "All of the same principles are at play. You learn about how to deal with returns, handling credit cards, packaging, labelling, stock levels and what your clients want."


So many options

"We sat in the pouring rain, the freezing cold, the boiling hot heat; mixing with tourists and bergies alike. Today there are so many more market options available to young designers and some of them are quite trendy," says Dixon.

One in particular, is The Mobile Boutique market that runs every Friday night at the Old Biscuit Mill in Observatory, Cape Town spearheaded by Andrew Clarke. 

Clarke used to have a label he stocked at YDE but he ended up bankrupt, "My business grew too fast for me to sustain it financially. You invest so much of your capital into your stock and if you have no liquidity any unexpected setback can kill your business." Remembering a time when his business was thriving, Clarke decided to "create a space where one could sell goods without the expense of owning a boutique. A bit like Greenmarket Square years ago!" The venue is under cover, the stands are all uniform and neatly arranged; and there are even credit card facilities. "It is a shopping experience where customers can purchase the latest in fashion design and meet directly with the designers," says Clarke.


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Advice from the established labels

  • Grow your business slowly. Start small and use the capital you make to grow your business.
  • Acquire liquidity. Having cash in the bank can save your business if something goes wrong.
  • Understand your customer. Sell something someone wants. You are not your customer.
  • Your business is sales, not design.
  • Expect to work hard. This business is more tough than glamorous. 
  • Be persistant. Building a brand takes years.



 Young Blood market in Sydney
 The Young Blood Market in Sydney


Rooftop Market
50 Bath Ave, Rosebank Mall, Rosebank
Tel: 011 442 4488
Open: Sundays 9.00am - 5pm

Bruma Lake Market
Cnr Ernest Oppenheimer and Marcia Ave, Bruma
Tel: 011 622 9648
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays 9.30am - 5pm (during festive season opened on Mondays as well)

Bryanston Organic & Natural Market
Cnr Bryanston and Culross Rd, Bryanston
Tel: 011 706 3671
Open: Thursdays and Saturdays 9am - 3pm

Crafters Market
Clearwater Mall, Clearwater
Tel: 011 4758644
Open: Every day 9am to 7pm (during festive season Mondays to Thursdays 9am - 8pm and Fridays 9am - 9pm)

East Rand Market
North Rand Road, Boksburg
Tel: 011 823 2601
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays from 9am - 5pm. Closed on Mondays except public holidays and festive season.

Hillfox Market
Hillfox Power Centre, Hendrik Potgieter Rd, Weltevreden Park
Tel: 011 442 4488
Open: Weekends and public holidays from 9am - 5pm

Market Theatre Market
Newtown Cultural Precinct, Bree St
Tel: 083 586 8687
Open: Mondays to Saturdays 9am – late

Panorama Market
Klip River Drive, Mulbarton, Joburg South
Tel: 011 682 2222
Open: Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays from 9am - 4pm.

The Market Place
Cross Street entrance, Brightwater Commons, Republic Road, Randburg
Tel: 011 886 0208
Open: Every day 10 am-7pm

NY Young Designers Market
 The New York Young Designer's Market


Essenwood Market
Berea Park, Essenwood Road, Berea, Durban
Tel: +27 (0)82 558-6611
Open: Every Saturday from 09h00 to 14h00.

Uvongo Market
Tel: +27 (0)82 800-9236 or +27 (0)39 315-7600
Open: Every Saturday morning

Umkhumbane Market
Corner of Bellair and Booth Roads, Westville
Tel: +27 (0)31 261-6640
Open: Every Sunday from 09h00 to 16h00

Victoria Street Market
Corner of Queen and Victoria Streets
Tel: +27 (0)31 306-4021
Open: Monday to Saturday from 08h00 to 18h00 and Sundays from 10h00 to 16h00

Cape Town

Red Shed Waterfront Market
Tel: +27 (0)21 408 7600
Open: open 7-days a week

Green Point Market
Near Green Point Stadium
Tel:  +27 (0)21 4394805
Open: Sundays and Public Holidays from 8:30am till after 17:00

Lions Club of Hout Bay Market
On the Main Road
Tel: +27 82 850 9752
Open: Sundays 10.00 – 17.00

Rondebosch Market
Rondebosch Park, Campground & Sandown Rds
Tel: 021 531 4236
Open: 1st and 2nd Saturday of every month

Milnerton Market
Tel: +27 (0)21 550-1383
Open: Saturday and Sunday from 07h00 to 17h00.

Add your comment (8)
written by Angie, February 22, 2010
Designers in Durbs - you HAVE TO CHECK OUT I HEART MARKET
lots of loving
written by handcraftedcolor, December 14, 2009
I did five years at Rosebank, Bruma and Irene and it is a great place to do R&D, while you learn what customers like and dislike. Mad Dog and Out Of The Blue (Knysna)also started out at the markets.
written by Dollface, December 10, 2009
My sister and i used to love the market, especially the ones in Knysna, we just thought the market thing has died of(JHB).
And here i discover that there are still plenty of them...its a great place to shop and find unique products at great prices. i am looking forward to go and explore them all. smilies/smiley.gif
written by zenias, December 07, 2009
I am trading at markets at the moments and YES it is blood ans sweat BUT it is great networking-you never know who you might bump into. The only negative for me with regards to markets is that so many organisations or individuals - fly by nights -want to run a modern "life-style market" - new venues - which is killing the older markets at the moment-expecially in Cape Town.
The keyword:never give up as some days trading is great and other days you just wont have a sale - BELIEVE in your product and yourself and dont let anything get you down - Happy trading smilies/wink.gif
written by karishmakrishna, December 05, 2009
I agree. Markets are the best way to learn about the market , quality and pricing. its also a great way to market. I used the I love Durban markets which is held on the first Saturday of every month as marketing tool. its works wonders to for my brand. I also do tuperware party type fashion parties. These together work better than the stores do on most months. I also supply a few stores abroad and I learned about them through tourists that bought my stuff in the market.

written by cathy, December 04, 2009
Well written article, I do hope that many of the aspiring designers, manufactures take heed. Not every company is about exclusive fact, one the more well known, successful retailers, happens to be Marcel Joubert, who with his partner Moira, started their business at Green Market Square when they were both studying.
Now many years later and fast approaching 70 stores right around the country - they are the most well known and success stories of young aspiring designers. Besides being brilliant business persons - both Marcel and Moira....they are fabulous human beings as well. They are enviornmentally aware, and also give a lot back to the community.

Now there is a success story that ifashion should be writing ABOUT. Marcel and Moira, could give terrific advise..and their story is inspiring - so next time you pass a Jenny Button Store, Hilton Wiener, and others of their kind - pop in and see what dedication, passion can truly grow into....They now trade as the Platinum Group of companies...
written by JamesR, December 04, 2009
Big Blue also started on Flea markets, and many (wealthy) BB suppliers 20 years later are still supplying Big Blue!
ALso when young designers approach us, I ask "where do you sell?" if they answer on a market its bonus points and almost gaurentees a foot in the door.
There is nothing like it for undersatnding market needs, production, value and all other aspects related to running a small hopefully large business. Even if you learn about cash flow in colledge, you will not understand what it means till you actually feel the effects of it.Or lack of it
Many startups seem precious about doing markets because of some rubbish taught at marketing schools about brand positioning or image in the market and similar drivel. There is nothing shamefull about putting yourself in the market and hard work is a brilliant brand virtue.