Go market-hopping

Go market-hopping

It's the most lucrative time of the year, as shoppers exercise negligible financial restraint, preferring instead to dive headlong into spending sprees for loved ones and themselves during the Christmas season.

And fairy lights-laden malls aren't the only ones pulling in the loose-walleted festive shopper. With oversized trees and Santa sightings being more cliched than Christmas-sy, retailers try to convey the spirit of the holidays through a more traditional platform: the Christmas market.

This year, there will be at least five such markets popping up to ride on the Yuletide shopping frenzy.

But rather than stocking up on mulled ciders and panettones in a quaint city square, expect to find gifts and products as eclectic as vintage tea services, pistachio butters and premium scotch - in locations such as a mall, shophouse and even a furniture store.

"The concept of markets isn't a new thing, but it certainly seems to have taken off this year with a growing pool of independent local makers, crafters and producers that have emerged," says Amanda Eng, marketing and buying director of Naiise.

"Markets are a great way for small businesses and makers to reach out to audiences without paying exorbitant rents, and it also offers shoppers a fun environment to discover different products from different businesses."

An online store that specialises in well-designed products from Singapore and around the world, Naiise has previously held three pop-up events. Its fourth, just in time for Christmas, is held in Little India and includes floral art by Poppy Floral Studio, Asian-inspired furniture by Scene Shang, art showcases and murals by Kult 3D and Band of Doodlers, and fresh menus prepared each weekend by the likes of The Cajun Kings, Burnt Ends and Kith Cafe.

While organising a Christmas market appears to be a money-spinning concept for those who are at the helm - the organisers at Naiise actually do not charge a fee for renting a stall.

Instead, they earn a consignment fee based on sales, motivating them to publicise the products of their vendors.

Furthermore, it has partnered with Club Rainbow for customers to purchase gifts that have been selected by the charity's youth, suffering from chronic and potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Taking the spirit of giving a step further is designer home furniture retailer Dream. It will not be charging any of its vendors such as The Attic Lifestyle Store, By Invite Only, The Letter J Supply and Mmerci Encore for selling their wares at its Christmas market taking place next weekend at its River Valley showroom.

"We don't generate any revenue from our Christmas Market. We invest in the set-up and publicity, but we don't ask our vendors to pay us anything," says Yung Ong, executive director of Proof Living, the parent company of Dream.

"It's always been in our DNA to embark on creative projects and this year, we decided to bring something warm and exciting to our neighbourhood while also supporting and collaborating with some of Singapore's most talented and creative entrepreneurs."

But while there is a low barrier to entry - cost-wise, a stall at Clarke Quay's Christmas market only goes for S$60 a day - a spot at one of these markets doesn't come easy. In fact, scoring a stall is almost a stamp of approval of one's cool quotient.

"It's actually difficult to get a space in Public Garden Market as the organisers curate their vendors so if you're not interesting enough, too bad," candidly explains Lena Tambunan, owner of vintage homeware business The Vintage Parlour and a tenant at the monthly flea market.

It runs every weekend till 14 Dec at TripleOne Somerset, Level 16. "It's even harder to get a slot in the Christmas markets but if you are a regular vendor and they are familiar with you and your product, you will be e-mailed in advance if there are slots available at their annual Christmas market."

Often, such enterprises offer greater variety for those seeking unique gifts or a fun outing.

Clarke Quay, which has been holding Christmas markets since 2010, works with flea market organiser For Flea Sake to shortlist artisanal products or even blog shops; while even Orchard Central has roped in homegrown nut butter brand The Hunters' Kitchenette alongside established names such as mall tenant Dean & Deluca.

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