Recently, the British Council NZ sent Gene Jouavel on a fact-finding mission to the UK to his old stomping ground in London, to find out a bit more about the state of London markets, with a view to helping the evolution of Auckland’s own numerous markets. What follows is his report – we are also seeking feedback to a number of questions below, so please feel free to also have your say!
“I was recently offered the opportunity to jump on that iron bird to go and do a bit of research into some of London’s Markets, and man are they going off!
Having grown up and worked in many different markets throughout the South East of England, from Chapel Street all the way down to Broadstairs / Ramsgate deep in Kent, this was a trip right up my alley – no pun intended.
Although my adventure was short ‘n’ sweet I did manage to take in a few of London’s finest: Borough Markets, Nettles, Leather Lane, and Portobello Road to name a few.
What I noticed with the markets these days was that there was a new “Market Energy” happening. Markets were no longer selling the cheap everyday products that the working class once desired let alone needed, but it was now more tourist minded with creative types giving new breath and energy into trading both quality and original products i.e. Jean makers, cupcake bakers and hat makers.
But they were still able to provide that community market feel that is the essence of markets. From talking to traders of old they had either gone with the flow or were still reminiscing of the bygone era of how hawkers really did put the excitement into market shopping with their cockney spiel or patter and way of exaggerating product with humour that only the English can muster!
The new traders who had not had the “skill” of trading passed down to them from family had still been able to find an avenue to show off their creativeness though, while also being able to gain an astute business sense!
Brick Lane has grown from a general Bric a Brac to having extensions by way of markets on side streets and warehouses; Such as Upmarket and Backyard Market making it hard to take in everything in one visit. The many Boutique shops that have moved into the area have also enhanced this market and is a must tourist destination. But what market is a market without food, and ethnic food is in abundance with smells and colours from all over the globe: Eritrean, Kazakhstani, Mongolian, Argentinian to name a few.
The Market that really impressed me though, was Broadway Market a little different with its bohemian feel and cosmopolitan mix of locals; helping to make the surrounding bar and café area feel alive. It is definitely a must to visit if you are a New Zealander that is homesick and wants to bump into fellow journeymen on their OE travels.
Borough Markets – a produce market, With its artisan food and fresh produce from fish to continental breads, as well as the ethnic cuisine; Mexican, Portuguese, Italian etc., it really was a fantastic market to stroll through. It was also good to see quality of produce from all around the globe.
There were a few markets that I felt were not as easy to get to for tourists, and they were Shepherd’s Bush Market and Deptford Market. These two markets had somewhat kept their cheap imported products and so in comparison to the other markets were quite dull. They lacked enthusiasm of product, vendors and patrons alike – I did not feel the new “market energy” of the other markets.
It definitely showed that mass production was not the way to go, but to be exclusive with limited styles and have an ever changing product. This I guess helps to keep the artistic minds ticking It also ensures that the locals can still regularly come and pass through to see what is new and evolving so as to not miss out, and add in the mix of great coffee and ethnic foods; you’ve got a recipe of success allowing the markets once again to be a thriving place to visit.
The energy felt in and around the London markets i.e.: Location – Location, sure does play a huge part in whether a market thrives or not, and as long as there is something for everyone local’s/ tourist; Markets will continue to thrive and be the gathering place of the masses as opposed to shopping centres!
At the end of the day, markets are the hub of one’s society allowing one a place where the interaction of tourists, immigrants and locals alike can be had – everyone understands what is going on without feeling alienated, and it is fantastic feeling to see.”
To continue the conversation, with an aim of making Auckland’s markets world-class destinations for locals and visitors to the city alike, we have devised a number of questions. Please feel free to comment on this blog or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
1 Do you shop at your local market?
2 Do you believe markets can benefit a local community?
3 What would you like to see more of at markets in Auckland?
4 What is your favourite market and why?