Artisan markets popular despite Covid-19 curbs

Stallholders Kayt Harris (left) and Sandy Jefferies display Dunedin-inspired wares at yesterday’s...
Stallholders Kayt Harris (left) and Sandy Jefferies display Dunedin-inspired wares at yesterday’s festive markets at the Edgar Centre. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
From purchasing pottery and "perfect" cheese rolls to fostering family ties, the "100% Dunedin" festive spirit of the annual Christmas Artisan Markets refused to be dampened by Covid-19 restrictions yesterday.

Between 9am and 4pm, more than 120 stallholders offering an assortment of local treats and trinkets drew in thousands to the Edgar Centre, just in time for locals to stock up on stocking-fillers.

Stallholders Kayt Harris and Sandy Jefferies started their business, Designs by Default, in the first Covid-19 lockdown of 2020.

Since then, customers had flowed in, often hoping to serve up a little slice of home to family and friends stuck overseas during the pandemic.

Chiming with the "100% Dunedin" market theme, every item in the Designs by Default stall had a distinctively southern flavour, from Dunedin suburb pillows to tea towels emblazoned with the "perfect cheese roll" recipe.

Despite concerns that Covid-19 might cause the event to follow in the footsteps of other cancelled events across the city, Ms Harris said the day had been "wonderful".

"It’s just a lovely atmosphere. It’s not too hectic, people are happy and enjoying themselves, and it’s lovely to get out and see family and friends," she said.

Port Chalmers Artisan Markets managing director Julie Fawcett, or as her badge states, "The Boss", started the market five years ago with another Dunedin woman.

The sum total of stalls then was three marquees on a village green.

For her, the markets were a labour of love for the community.

Since then, the markets had gone from strength to strength, despite the stricter Covid-19 protocols which needed to be observed over the weekend.

Observing the 400-person capacity and social distancing requirements inside the building had called a "five in five out" policy to be enforced, she said.

Regardless, by 1pm yesterday 1300 people had been through the doors.

Ms Fawcett was under no illusions as to the draw of the market.

"This market isn’t just about selling tea cosies. It’s about family and friends.

"It’s a chance for people to come together, be social, have the opportunity to mix and mingle, and to help one another out."

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