Riverside Market's rising star

Pinar Bozkurt works seven days on her market business. Photo: RNZ
Pinar Bozkurt works seven days on her market business. Photo: RNZ
The new Riverside Market in Christchurch has brought revival to the city's hub and one Muslim woman says it's given her her life back.

Developers say the market is just what the people of Christchurch needed after the 15 March mosque attacks, with tens of thousands of people coming for a look since it opened a month ago.

Stallholder Pinar Bozkurt is a solo mother with three kids, and a Turkish baker who was struggling to keep her business alive - that is until the market opened.

Now, she has fast become the rising star in Christchurch's Riverside Market.

"It's so hard paying the bills as a single mum. I was getting so sick. It was so bad, too much stress, I can't handle it. It's not much income to keep going. So before Riverside I said, no I have to shut down. I can't keep going like that."

If the market didn't work she promised herself, and her kids, she would never cook again.

But the market's developers managed to talk her into coming on board - and on the first day of business, her stall went gangbusters - she sold almost 70 kilos of Turkish delight and 900 pieces of baklava.

In fact, she's sold out every day since.

"It was crazy, crazy, it was so busy. It feel's so good! I said to myself yes, I done it!"

Pinar has overcome some difficult circumstances to achieve the success she's now experiencing.

About a year and a half go, she separated with her husband and she says she lost all confidence.

"As a baker/owner we were partners and work together also. So when he left, I said to myself 'No I can't do it by myself. Shut down the business, maybe find another job.

"Every night I sleep and I said to myself and God, 'Please God don't take my house, I can keep going to save my kids. Just save my kids, I can help them more."

She said she had just a few dollars in her bank account to start her life over.

"Six dollars in the account and I have to pay $1500 next week for the rent. But I call my landlord and I talk to him and he said 'Don't worry about it Pinar, I know you. If you get it, you'll pay me. I know that. So, take your time, when you're ready, you can pay."

She says she has many angels who have helped her along the way, including Angela who also has a stall.

Angela helped Pinar with the re-branding of her business 'Izmir Delights' - the design and printing of her logo, pictures for her menu and more.

Pinar says Angela is among several people who reached out to help her at no cost.

"Even my builders didn't take any money from the start. He said to me, 'No we'll do it and when you're right, when you have time - you can pay for it. Which is very helpful for me. Otherwise, I can't start."

Pinar says the Riverside developers Mike Percasky, Richard Peebles and Kris Inglis also pitched in to help.

"I think all of us here at Riverside really saw that Pinar really was a lovely lady and she's got a great product and we all throughout the team, you know just supported her, encouraged her to take this step into doing this and yeah we're all stoked with the way it's all turned out," says Kris Inglis.

"We've actually got the guys working later tonight, just installing the instruction system for her so she can get up and cooking the gozleme. We've helped her but we can't take too much credit for where she's at at the minute."

Kris says they'd hoped the market would revive the CBD but they've been blown away by its success and Pinar's stall which has been a hit.

"The first couple of weeks we were just blown away by the amount of people who came to the market, she just had queues of people wanting turkish delights ... the amount of sales she's done is pretty incredible. So good on her.

"Obviously under the circumstances of this year, you know - as they say - we are one. And we're just pleased to help someone like Pinar get to where she has."

While everyone is celebrating Pinar's success, no one is happier than her own children.

"She's probably the most hard-working woman I've ever seen," says Pinar's daughter Zeb.

"She's just looked after us for so long. I've actually moved out now and she's still looking after me. She's beautiful inside and out. Makes me tear up. She's just the most hardworking person ever and I wanna be her like in every way."

She says her mum is up at 5am every morning preparing for the day, and when she leaves the market around 4.30pm, she goes straight to the bakery to start baking for the next day, often not getting home until 10.30pm at night.

"I have three beautiful kids and they all helping me a lot," says Pinar.

"My son helping me, when he finishing school, he ring me and says, what do you need mum. And I give him the list, he goes to wholesaler grab my everything, what I needed and leave it in the bakery.

"She's obviously just the strongest woman I've ever known," Zeb says.

"It's just been like my sisters and my brothers and my inspiration and like it's just been really nice to see her overcome so many obstacles and like this whole entire thing. She was so scared to do this.

"We're all in this together ... I'm just really proud of her."

Pinar is proud of her children and says they are her motivation.

"I love my kids. I love them. I love them so much."



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