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HomeARCHIVEPopular beachfront markets canned in lead up to Christmas

Popular beachfront markets canned in lead up to Christmas

With less than a week’s notice, Manly Market beachfront stallholders were notified their bookings were cancelled over concern they’re bad for Manly’s bricks and mortar businesses.

The regular Sydney Road and Corso markets will continue on weekends as usual.

Louisa Morrow, owner of Salvage Australia, received the e-mail on Tuesday, 28 November – four days before her first market booking.

“Myself, and approximately forty stall holders, were due to trade at the Manly beachfront markets on 3, 10 and 24 December,” she tells Manly Observer.

“We received an e-mail from the Market Manager stating that the beachfront markets were cancelled by Northern Beaches Council due to a complaint from the Manly Business Chamber.”

Upon further discussions with the Market Manager, Morrow was informed that Manly Chamber had growing concerns that the beachfront markets were taking business away from the Corso.

“I have only just launched my local sustainable beach bag company, and these markets, which are extremely popular and difficult to get a stall at, were my opportunity to really get the brand out there,” Morrow explains.

“With the cost-of-living crisis, it’s a shame that small businesses will be affected and there is no way for those stall holders to recoup the lost sales with such little notice.”

Manly Markets when they are on Sydney Road and the Corso, will continue to operate but beachfront stalls are cancelled until after Christmas. Image: Manly Markets 2095 Public Facebook Page

Chamber President Ashling O’Brien said the decision was not due to a complaint from the Chamber but arose because the market manager set up stalls without council approval.

“Recent communications have mistakenly placed the blame on the Chamber,” she said.

“In response to this oversight, our approach was to suggest alternate street locations for the stalls, with the goal of evenly distributing foot traffic throughout Manly and bolstering the entire business community. “

“Additionally, we supported extra market trading days. Our commitment to fostering a balanced and thriving commercial ecosystem in Manly remains unwavering.”

But the Chamber did express its desire to keep interest within the CBD and not spread foot traffic to the beachfront when asked about the pre-Christmas markets on the beachfront.

Both the Manly Business Chamber and Northern Beaches Council outline their support for Manly Markets, with the Council telling Manly Observer that the markets are one of Sydney’s most successful.

“Manly Business Chamber works closely with the Market Manager to ensure the markets complement Manly’s bricks and mortar businesses,” Chantelle Hoare, Executive Officer of the Manly Business Chamber, says.

Hoare explains the markets were originally established on Sydney Road to spread foot traffic to the precinct. Chambers also ensures stallholders deliver uniquely Australian products that do not compete with what Manly retailers offer.

“In recent years, the Chamber has supported the market’s operation on to the Corso, and also the beachfront, whenever possible,” Hoare adds.

“Following feedback from businesses, the Chamber’s Executive Committee has agreed the weekends leading into Christmas are key dates for Manly’s retail to capitalise on the increased traffic to Manly.

“The desire is to keep interest within the CBD and not spread foot traffic to the beachfront – which is already congested.”

Northern Beaches Council shared Chamber’s concern on diverting foot traffic away from the CBD and adding congestion to an already busy beachfront in the weekends leading up to Christmas.

Council adds that for the past two weekends, Manly Markets held beachfront stalls – which they say were not formally approved.

“Due to a miscommunication, the market did operate on the beachfront on 19 November assuming they had approval from Council,” Northern Beaches Council tells Manly Observer.

“Council and the Chamber discussed the request and agreed to allow the market to operate on the beachfront on 26 November as stallholders were already booked in.”

Council has not confirmed when they notified the Market Manager of the cancellation of the December beachfront markets and the Market Manager has opted not to comment on the story.

The Council and the Chamber says they offered the use of Short Street in Manly as an alternate space for the beachfront stalls, however, this offer was declined.

Council, with the support of the Chamber, has however approved two additional trading dates for the markets – 21 and 22 December on the Corso and Sydney Road.

Manly Markets. Image: Manly Markets 2095 Public Facebook Page
Manly Markets. Image: Manly Markets 2095 Public Facebook Page

We are not aware of any data supporting either notion – that the markets attract or detract from local shops. So, Manly Observer hit the streets to understand what store owners really think of the markets.

It’s a mixed bag (and most business owners chose to be off the record).

One owner explains that the Sydney Road markets are a bigger problem than the beachfront.

They say this section of the markets block visibility to their store and there is not enough space between the stallholders and the shop front to allow a clear pathway to their store.

They believe moving the markets from Sydney Road to the beachfront would be beneficial.

While another owner says the Sydney Road markets are extremely beneficial for their sales. Despite the business selling similar items available in the markets, the markets increased foot traffic to their area of Manly, which is not commonly known to visitors.

Another store manager notes they had seen huge crowds on the beachfront over the last two weekends (when the markets operated) and they were disappointed those potential customers were being led away from the CBD.

This is in direct contrast to another store manager who says they hadn’t noticed a difference in sales over the last two weeks with the beachfront markets operating.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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