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.
In 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.
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.
| The Young Blood Market in Sydney
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
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 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
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
| The New York Young Designer's Market
Berea Park, Essenwood Road, Berea, Durban
Tel: +27 (0)82 558-6611
Open: Every Saturday from 09h00 to 14h00.
Tel: +27 (0)82 800-9236 or +27 (0)39 315-7600
Open: Every Saturday morning
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
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 Park, Campground & Sandown Rds
Tel: 021 531 4236
Open: 1st and 2nd Saturday of every month
Tel: +27 (0)21 550-1383
Open: Saturday and Sunday from 07h00 to 17h00.