Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Love the buzz of a village market?

There are few nicer things to do on a Saturday morning than visit the local village market.
A Q & A with Sarah Laing who made a career shift from sales development with multinationals to a more community-based Howick Village Association (HVA). As manager of the bustling Howick Village Market, Sarah is passionate about growing and developing the village market. Her biggest takeaway is working with small, startup businesses and watching them flourish.

Q: How has the Howick Village Market evolved over the years?

The aim was to keep the amazing core of regular stallholders while encouraging new vendors with a focus on local and sustainable goods. For example, shortly after I started three years ago with HVA, Cronch Co became part of the market family, and it was easy to see that they offered visitors to the market something different for the furry friends of Howick, that is 100 per cent natural with no added chemicals or preservatives, while using bits that might otherwise go to waste.

More recently we have had Christopher and Emma join us with their Pounamu and Aotea stone carving. Knowing that this stone comes from New Zealand, and you an watch them in action as it is carved in front of you in the market square, is amazing!

We have also added stallholders like Eeva from Finland who now resides in east Auckland and makes Lilla Bageri Finnish pastries. She gets up at 2am and make small batches of divine food just for our locals.

Q: What are the secret ingredients to a successful market mix?

Live music and a place to sit and share food and community conversation.
The story that brings the product and the stallholder to the market. Many stallholders have been on a journey to create the food or craft that they make. Be it a holistic natural cream because they have been on a cancer journey or they want to educate others of their culture or make food in small batches that brings people together.

Community, the Shop Local mindset has been in Howick for many decades, and it is that thinking that has stood us strong during Covid/Cyclone Gabrielle and recessions. We see regulars every weekend that come and buy their produce, eggs, and deli treats. Even the pet pooches in Howick are regulars and walk their owners to their favourite stalls every Saturday morning.

Q: What do you look for when selecting stallholders?

We look for local and sustainable products while ensuring there is variety ofproduce and products for our customers.

Q: What’s the process for new vendors?

Our website is the best place for market and stallholder information and applications –

Q: Which is your favourite Market in Auckland?

Well, we love our fellow Howick market Classy Crafts held once a month across the road at the Picton Centre. It is brilliant when both markets are running, and the Howick Village Shops are buzzing.

“We are not just a market we are very much the social gathering place for people to connect, share and be part of the community.”

Q: Any special, aha moment at the Howick Village Market?

The Saturday in the middle of last summer’s Cyclone Gabrielle, it was drizzly but calm. It was safe to go ahead with the market so although a lot of stalls had to pull out due to flooding on their own properties, we went ahead with the market. It was that day we saw the customers still arrive because it was an opportunity to see their friends and neighbours.

We were a community square where people came to meet, get their supplies, catch up and decompress about what had just happened in Howick and around NZ. It made me realise we are not just a market we are very much the social gathering place for people to connect, share and be part of the community.

Q: What do you love most about your role?

Getting to interact with amazing creative people whether it’s through food, craft, or music.
Once you get past the blurry-eyed 5am start, its dealing with those inspiring, creative people that make up the market and the wonderful community that supports them.

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