End of the Green Flea markets?
Easter Saturday morning was spent visiting the Green Flea markets in Davies Park West End. It’s a lovely market, full of good things to eat and drink and clearly packed to the gills with people filling up eco friendly bags with fresh produce. Many of the stalls focus on produce, with a smattering of others selling deli products and assorted bits and pieces. The food stalls are fantastic. Lots of coffee and one great stall selling Hungarian pastries like lepeny and langos. All delicious and cheesy.
Unfortunately the future of the market is unsure. Recently the rights to hold the market in Davies Park were sold to a Sydney based company that holds the leases on other markets in Brisbane such as the Southbank markets. If you haven’t seen both markets you might not be able to appreciate what makes one so different from the other, but basically the Southbank markets are very touristy, full of stuff you don’t need to buy regularly and don’t necessarily promote the community spirit that is so obviously present in West End.
At the markets on Saturday I witnessed the full range of the local community (and a few ring ins) buying their weekly groceries, catching up with family, friends and stallholders, families on outings, people walking, biking and doing all things you would hope for in a community market (including a pointy eared elf serenading people with pipe music). Clearly some of the customers were long term West End residents equipped with wheelie trolleys to cart away the beautiful fresh produce and baked goods. Southbank is not that sort of market. It is full of clothes, bags, and various other gimmicky things. I know the only things I’ve bought there in the past few years have been cute badges from the badge stall, but it’s not a market to hold my interest for longer than about half an hour. It’s definitely not a full morning outing.
Sentiment from many locals and market attendees has ranged from the disappointed to the outraged, to others who don’t see what the problem is. I guess my concern (even though I am not a regular attendee) is that existing stallholders won’t be able to continue on with new management. Although the new management company Blue Sky Events says it has no plans to change the character of the markets, it is clear that current stallholders will have to contact new mangement for a place at the markets (see bottom of article). So although they may have no particular plan for change, it is clear from the current state of the market that if the stallholders begin to change and others move in, then the tone of the market begins to change.
I had a lovely Saturday morning in West End but it did leave me wondering whether my next trip there would be so good. It seems such a shame that a market like this could potentially become a clone of a market we already possess.