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Local Makers Market Initiative

I know we are all a little ho-hum in NZ (and especially Auckland), as we move into what is likely another few weeks of lockdown. I have mixed feelings. I am peeved that an exciting new initiative we created has to be postponed. But I do know a lockdown is worth it in the long run. I also quite like that I can tackle the backlog of work!

We have all loved our freedom to go about our lives in Level 1. My family in Aussie are jealous as we attend mass gatherings and started to rebuild our economy. Whilst this situation seems crushing, it's a drop in the bucket to what has been felt to date in certain corners of our world. So I'd like to reflect on the often overlooked operators in our retail ecosystem. Right here in your local communities. The cottage industry/side-hustle/makers/D2C home small operators.

Stuff covered the Meadowbank Local Makers Market which was to launch this coming weekend. We have made the decision to POSTPONE it and, for a lot of traders who secured a free stall, this is another kick in the guts.

There are multiple players within the retail ecosystem doing it tough. After weeks of closing up shop, tenants in malls have returned to an existence of being hand to mouth to keep their businesses a float. Foot traffic is down, shoppers are spending less and government support just touches the edges. Landlords and mall owners have provided relief, but let's not kid ourselves that they are all rich property magnates. Often they are mum's and dad's who saw owning a commercial tenancy as a retirement investment. Many tenancies are sitting shuttered.

Then there are all those entrepreneurs, side-hustlers and "work out of my house" wonders. Retailers who have only traded online and at markets, having identified a customer need for a specific range of products and services (btw where are all the super-cute masks when I need them?) Level 4 came and they were screwed. No markets and worse, they couldn't despatch any orders. Level 3 provided some relief but by then the digital hemisphere had been inundated with new entrants and corporates who had picked up their game.

Then customer attitude and behaviours changed. We were staying local, buying local and wanting to support our community. That is where our idea germinated from. Community.

Community retail is an essential. It's often the beating heart of our communities. When it has some of its lifeblood impacted, it stops working as well as it should. Worst case. It dies.

Hence we created the idea of the Local Makers Market. A market concept within the local community shopping centre to fill the existing empty premises and give an exciting opportunity for the community to explore and makers to sell their wares.

We were fortunate that Meadowbank Shopping Centre saw the potential in our idea. We contacted the owners of vacant tenancies and they kindly donated their space free of charge. "Whatever they could do to help!" One of the large spaces was a Flight Centre which had recently had to shut up shop and is in pride of place in the Centre. Devastating for Meadowbank and all the other local tenants.


- Local entrepreneurs/makers/non- bricks and mortar retailers (online, mail order, market, etc) can apply for a free space in the Centre. We were inundated with all sorts of applications.

- There are a few conditions: They can't currently operate a physical store, they must reside/ operate in the Community boundaries (which is quite large) and they must be at the Centre, ready to trade on the hours specified. It's that easy.

It's a win/win/win.

- The community gets vibrant retail to explore and celebrate their local talent

- There is foot traffic to the Centre and existing tenants can promote some of their exciting wares

- The landlords get people looking through their tenancies (and they can feel good they are helping the smaller guys with a hand-up)

- The Centre feels alive

- Best of all, these smaller entrepreneurs have a platform and audience to sell to.

We are gutted for all the stallholders who got ready to go this weekend. But in the interest of safety, we have postponed this event.

So when we get back to Level 1, please support any initiatives like this and if your local community Centre is suffering, get them to talk to us. We want this idea to hit ever corner of NZ community retail, and if we can give them the plan and resources to do it (why recreate the wheel), then everyone benefits. If you live near Meadowbank Shopping Centre, make sure you attend!

Giving our local talented non-bricks and mortar retailers a hand-up, to get their products and services profile and provide a platform, will keep our retail communities vibrant and our locals delighted. Who knows, they might just be the next new tenant in the Centre?

Best of all, it is FREE for stall holders, through the generosity of store owners. #InThisTogether

Fingers-crossed we can hold our first Local Makers Market event soon.

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