A plan to revitalise Silverdale Market could be having the reverse effect, with stallholders saying that the number of stalls, and customers, has declined since the business association instigated changes a few months ago.
The Saturday market is believed to have started in the 1980s. Stalls offering a range of food and other items are placed in and around the lower part of Silverdale Street, as well as inside Silverdale Hall.
Stalls on the hall property are managed by a committee, with proceeds going to charity. The rest are managed by the Silverdale Area Business Association (SABA), which collects rent for the stalls.
The revitalisation plan began towards the end of last year. It was led by SABA, which was granted $10,000 by the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board towards reinvigorating the market.
In a statement, SABA said that it agreed to assist with the markets after businesses nearby complained about rubbish, loss of carparks and loss of profit on market days. “Stallholders confirmed that there were far less customers and takings were low,” the statement says. “Our goal was to create a larger market space with attractions to draw customers from the wider residential area and to create a ‘destination’.”
The process included paying committee member Gill Plume to provide marketing support and employing Sarah Compain of My Markets to run the market. At the same time, the fees charged to stallholders increased (HM December 1, 2018).
Stallholders say they were not consulted on any of the changes.
Joan Altorf has had her flower stall at the market for nearly 30 years and says patronage, and the number of stalls, have both declined dramatically.
“My turnover is down by 30 percent in the last three months,” she says, adding that she is considering whether or not to continue operating her stall. “Customers say it’s just not the same here any more.”
Other stallholders, who did not want to be named, told Hibiscus Matters they have been upset by rude behaviour from the market manager. Two long-term stallholders say they were told in no uncertain terms to “find another market”.
Paul Pratt, who has had a stall at the market for 15 years, says until recently the market was a friendly, community-based operation. He says the atmosphere has “turned toxic”, with several unpleasant confrontations taking place between management and stallholders – some of whom are elderly.
Market manager Sarah Compain says while the majority of stallholders have been very kind, she has been on the receiving end of verbal abuse from others. “I have never been treated in such a way – myself and my children have been in tears,” she says.
Sarah says that the behaviour is aimed at getting her to quit but she is determined to stay and make the market work.
She says there have been a number of positive changes under her watch, including new signs, a Facebook page and “at least 20 new stallholders who have attended the market”.
In its statement, SABA acknowledges that the changes have been unsettling for some, but says it has also received positive feedback. Regarding the allegations of bullying, the statement says that the market manager was enforcing what needed to be done to operate within the law. “Stallholders have abused and threatened her,” the statement says.
It goes on to suggest the future of the market may be under threat.
“We look forward to the continuing evolution of Silverdale and the future changes. Whether Silverdale market will be part of that future is still uncertain.”