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The Handmade Markets

By Alexandra Craig - 7 October 2014 9

The Handmade Markets were on this long weekend at the National Convention Centre, with everything on offer from clocks fashioned out of bicycle wheels and gears, to a stall full of delicious marinades for meat, to hand-sewed foxes wearing trousers.

I went along on Saturday morning, at around 11.00am. The markets had only been open for an hour or so but the place was buzzing. So many people in one place, all trying to get to the front of the stalls that had free food samples or sweet smelling soaps on offer.

Every stall had a constant stream of people and no-one missed out on any attention from buyers.

If people think these markets are a bit of a gimmick with the same old junk that regular market stalls have to offer, they’re greatly mistaken. The Handmade Markets are an eclectic mix of all the great talent that Canberra’s creatives have to offer.

From what I could see, about 80% of the stalls were held by Canberrans, the other 20 per cent held by people from neighbouring regions. I think there’s something great about buying something for yourself, or a gift for a friend that’s been put together by local people in Canberra, putting a great deal of pride into the final product. Nothing you find at these markets is cheap or imported, like a lot of what you would find elsewhere.

The Handmade Market is the sister business, if you like, of the Handmade Canberra store in the city. In the past financial year alone, the markets and Handmade Canberra have made about $2 million in profit. That’s excluding the profit to the owners. This is great news for Canberra’s local economy and for our designers.

The Handmade Market is held quarterly at the National Convention Centre. If you missed it this weekend and can’t wait for the next round, a lot of what was sold there can be found at Handmade Canberra: City Walk, 20 Allara Street.

Did you go along to the Handmade Market this weekend? What did you pick up? I couldn’t resist a block of Lindsay and Edmunds chocolate, but I’ll definitely have my eye on the hand-sewn fox wearing trousers next time around.

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
The Handmade Markets
Genie 9:32 am 09 Oct 14

I have been doing markets in Canberra for over a decade and yes The Handmade Markets is the most expensive one to attend. I would have to triple or quadruple my current prices just to break even, not something I’m prepared to do.

If you’re wondering what it normally costs to have a market stall around town:-

Most school fetes are around the $20 mark (although Telopea Park School are asking $350 per stall at their upcoming fete) and some ask for an additional donation to raffle off.

For actual markets you’re paying around $50 for a stall at the Hall Markets and upwards of $100 at the Old Bus Depot Markets.

The Baby and Kids Market and Muddle Puddle for a commercial stall is upwards of $100 too. (much cheaper if you’re just selling off your second hand goods)

Finally with the upcoming Christmas markets, the ones at Epic are around $200-$350 for stalls for 2 days depending on the size of your stall and the Christmas Markets at the AIS is again around the $100-$150 price tag for the one day.

Holden Caulfield 10:06 am 08 Oct 14

The best way to make money at the Handmade Markets is to be the organiser.

After that, even if you’re one of the several sellers offering mass made products for sale (ie. cheaper to produce), it can be a tough gig. Still, plenty of people keep turning up so well done to the organisers who have done quite well for themselves I’d imagine.

Alexandra Craig 9:13 am 08 Oct 14

pink little birdie said :

Genie said :

While I normally love the Handmade Markets, I’m a little over going and seeing the same stalls there every quarter. Usually only a handful of new stalls make an appearance.

I didn’t go this weekend, but my experience has been the opposite of what you stated. I have stopped and chatted to several stall holders to find almost none of them are Canberra locals and even shocked that several had no part in making their wares. One stall holder even advised her products were designed by her but made over in Tibet. Not what I would classify as “handmade”.

Nonetheless I’m sure you will find me wandering through the stalls at their next market just before Christmas. I will just make sure I eat beforehand as the food on offer from the Convention Centre is subpar

I agree, the stalls are getting a little stale and most of the items aren’t locally made and the majority of items are $60-100 style which is handmade botique not locally handmade. (which can be made for $30-40)
Though I hear the reason for pricy stall items is that it’s quite expensive to hire a stall there

You have to factor in time as well as cost to make each product. I was talking to a young lady who makes hand-sewn animals; the fox with trousers I mentioned in the article was from her stall – anyway, it takes her about five hours to make just one stuffed animal. The really basic ones still take at least one hour each. She had a stall with about 40 toys. That’s a lot of hours all up, so she’d be looking to not only cover costs for product but costs for labour. As well as the 6 hours she sits at her market stall during the day.

thatsnotme 8:19 pm 07 Oct 14

Zan said :

Genie said :

…Though I hear the reason for pricy stall items is that it’s quite expensive to hire a stall there

The alternative then would be to charge less for the stall and have a entrance fee. The stall rate includes the cost of hire of the centre = expensive; public liability = expensive; hire of staff etc.

Public Liability is an additional cost on top of the stall. The absolute minimum a stall costs is $380 for the weekend, for a 2x2m spot. If you need 3x3m, you’re looking at $520. Add $20 if you don’t have your own insurance.

I exhibited at Handmade 4 or 5 years ago, when it was at the Yarralumla Woolshed, and stall costs weren’t really all that much lower then from memory. That was a small stall inside on Friday night, and a larger stall outside the next day. The markets before at the Woolshed had gone gangbusters, people were parked half way down the Cotter Road to get in…so of course the one I went to was hugely quiet, after everyone had been scared away by the crowds the previous time! I didn’t manage to cover my costs at all…

I think a big part of the reason Handmade has so many ‘professional’ market sellers is because it’s almost impossible for a local hobbyist to make a go of it with stall prices like they have. Once you take into account the costs in making your goods, the stall, displays etc etc, you’ve really got to sell a lot to break even. Most of the people who were at the markets I sold at would do different markets just about every weekend, travelling to wherever they were running. It wasn’t really a part time gig to earn some extra income, or to take a hobby a step further, it was pretty much a full time job, with stalls and displays that were practically mini shops. To run a business like that, while also painstakingly hand making everything you want to sell, isn’t really realistic I think. I tried – I’d spent hours and hours in the shed making photo frames from recycled timber, and framing my photography. I didn’t come close to breaking even (but on the upside, I have a lot of nice photos hanging in my house now!)

Zan 6:20 pm 07 Oct 14

Genie said :

…Though I hear the reason for pricy stall items is that it’s quite expensive to hire a stall there

The alternative then would be to charge less for the stall and have a entrance fee. The stall rate includes the cost of hire of the centre = expensive; public liability = expensive; hire of staff etc.

pink little birdie 3:48 pm 07 Oct 14

Genie said :

While I normally love the Handmade Markets, I’m a little over going and seeing the same stalls there every quarter. Usually only a handful of new stalls make an appearance.

I didn’t go this weekend, but my experience has been the opposite of what you stated. I have stopped and chatted to several stall holders to find almost none of them are Canberra locals and even shocked that several had no part in making their wares. One stall holder even advised her products were designed by her but made over in Tibet. Not what I would classify as “handmade”.

Nonetheless I’m sure you will find me wandering through the stalls at their next market just before Christmas. I will just make sure I eat beforehand as the food on offer from the Convention Centre is subpar

I agree, the stalls are getting a little stale and most of the items aren’t locally made and the majority of items are $60-100 style which is handmade botique not locally handmade. (which can be made for $30-40)
Though I hear the reason for pricy stall items is that it’s quite expensive to hire a stall there

Genie 11:32 am 07 Oct 14

While I normally love the Handmade Markets, I’m a little over going and seeing the same stalls there every quarter. Usually only a handful of new stalls make an appearance.

I didn’t go this weekend, but my experience has been the opposite of what you stated. I have stopped and chatted to several stall holders to find almost none of them are Canberra locals and even shocked that several had no part in making their wares. One stall holder even advised her products were designed by her but made over in Tibet. Not what I would classify as “handmade”.

Nonetheless I’m sure you will find me wandering through the stalls at their next market just before Christmas. I will just make sure I eat beforehand as the food on offer from the Convention Centre is subpar

Alexandra Craig 10:21 am 07 Oct 14

fabforty said :

I didn’t go to this one but went to the one before. I really love the Handmade Market and am glad they keep a fairly high standard in stalls and products.

My only comment is that last time there was only one person selling coffee and it was truly awful. But that’s only a minor thing, though, I know.

That’s true. I’m not a coffee drinker so I didn’t really pick up on that but you’re right. There’s not really anywhere to get food to eat at the time either. They have some stuff at the same place you get coffee from and there’s a juice bar that also sells fruit salad but that’s about it from what I saw.

fabforty 9:14 am 07 Oct 14

I didn’t go to this one but went to the one before. I really love the Handmade Market and am glad they keep a fairly high standard in stalls and products.

My only comment is that last time there was only one person selling coffee and it was truly awful. But that’s only a minor thing, though, I know.

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