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Takapuna market back after lockdown

Flagstaff Team

Welcome return… Vicki Clark and Judith Vickers of Tamerlane

The return of Takapuna’s long-running Sunday Market is proving a welcome bright spot, drawing people back to the town centre.

One customer told the Rangitoto Observer she had not realised the market had reopened. When by chance she spotted it open, she stopped off. “We always come here for veges and fruit.”

Keeping warm… Julie Chantrasee with her chillies

For stallholders, turnover was down, due to there being fewer shoppers than usual, but most said they were happy to be back after the long Covid-19 lay-off. Some wished there had been more promotion of the reopening.

Last Sunday, more stallholders set up stands than on the quiet first day’s trading over Queen’s Birthday Weekend. “Everyone is anxious to get back to normal,” said long-time market co- organiser Trish Keith. She and business partner Ess Jenner were pleased with support so far.

Back into it… Trish Keith (left) and Ess Jenner who organise the markets

After having around 50 stalls on the first day back, 80 were in operation for week two. The site can take up to 250 stalls, but typically only has that number in the lead-in to Christmas.

“It’s been good. We didn’t know how it would go,” said Keith. Opening initially on a long weekend, when many people were away, had meant stalls could be spaced out across the site, allowing easier trading with social distancing.

Market regulars… John Fidow and Mitzi Schewenke-Fidow with their Pasifika and Aotearoa crafts

Sanitiser was prominent at a number of stalls and a few stallholders were wearing masks. Cash was being widely accepted.

Food vendors seemed the busiest. Mike O’Donoghue, who took over the popular bacon stand pre-pandemic, had queues for bacon sandwiches, but said turnover was only a third of when the market was packed. It wasn’t about the money, he said, but being back so numbers could rebuild.

Packing a bunch… Carl Singh was back selling flowers

Vicki Clark of Tamerlane Handicrafts, a trader at the market for 25 years, said: “I came to support it, to let people know we’re open.”

Surplus-goods stall holder Geoff Groom has spent 30 years at the market, on and off. “It’s an institution that brings people to the town.” But he reckons, for tough times, Auckland has too much retail being built. Groom hopes that Buy NZ campaigns will help smaller traders.

Another veteran stallholder, who preferred not to be named, said the lockdown had prompted him to email regular customers of his specialist vegetable business and begin deliveries. “One outcome of the whole Covid thing is direct-to-customers is going to be more long-term. My business plan long-term might be deliveries.”

Flower seller Jan Ward of Janmaree Flowers reckons it will take time to get really busy again, and job losses may bite further when wage subsidies end. With long-standing market identity Carl Singh back dispensing blooms, she cautions that prices are another casualty of Covid. “Flowers are expensive at the moment. There’s no imports.” Supply was limited and demand had been high, especially for online sales over Mother’s Day. “I won’t buy roses because they’re too expensive.”

Buon appetito… Luigi Vitrone came from Whangarei with his pasta

• The Takapuna market has use of the current site until March 2021, after which Takapuna Square developments mean a new site will have to be found.

This article originally appeared in the 27 November 2020 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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