A market owner’s guide to getting the best out of your market

Markets are thriving in South Africa. The positive spinoffs of this are that more small producers are getting a piece of the pie and people are becoming more connected to their food and community. What is the best way to choose the right market for you and how do you make the most out of your chosen market? Each market has its own personality, vibe and specialities. The next 10 points hope to improve your market experience.

1) Choose which market works best for you. Different people have very different needs. For want of a better idea, I am going to compare markets to restaurants. There are sushi restaurants, steakhouses, vegetarian and Indian restaurants and they all have different specialities and focuses. I definitely would not go to my favourite sushi spot and hope to get a good piece of fillet. Markets are the same. Some focus on craft beers and ready food, others on live music and location, and some focus on fresh produce shopping. If you are serious about buying fresh produce at the market, you may not want to be surrounded by beer swilling happy chappies and the happy chappies may not want your serious ‘organic’ vibes either. Whilst some markets provide a bit of everything, find the market that most fulfils your needs and make the most of it.

2) If you are interested in buying fresh produce, arrive early but not too early. The early bird catches the worm does not work as well as the second mouse gets the cheese when it comes to markets! Traders have a lot to unpack and get sorted on their stands before they are ready to trade. They can easily become harassed if they are unpacking and people are buying before the market has even opened. As a market owner, it also means that the trader is less likely to be able to create an effective and eye catching display if they are under pressure.

3) Ask questions about the food you are buying. A lot of questions. Get to know the trader; ask where the produce comes from and how it is made; ask about farming methods, preservatives etc. Ask the trader about the best way to prepare the item you are buying – they generally have some great tips. This not only connects you with your food but also lets the trader know that you are serious about their food and interested in where it comes from.

4) Be patient. Markets are not supermarkets. They do not want to become like supermarkets. You may wait slightly longer in the queue to get your veggies weighed because the stall owner is chatting to the person in front of you about how their artichokes turned out last week, but that is part of the joy of shopping at a market.

5) Give feedback! Especially to the market owner. It is very difficult to know what people think and feel unless they share it. Make it constructive and don’t rant but please give feedback. We love it!

6) Be tolerant of different people and different desires. We like the fact that many people feel like the market is an extension of their home but the downside of this is that if we try to move the couch around they may freak out. Market owners need to try different things, they have many different types of people to please and they need to reinvent themselves every now and then as every good business does. We get it wrong sometimes. Embrace change and give different things a chance. You can still give the feedback if you don’t like it.

7) We know you love your dog but that doesn’t mean everybody loves your dog. Markets have their own policies on whether or not they allow dogs. Please be considerate and keep your dog on a leash. Don’t let him mistake the fake grass for a great place to take a dump and if he’s a barker…well then rather leave him at home. We have even had dog lovers bringing their stinky dog beds along with them to lay out next to the table for the old boy to lie on!

8) Bring your own bags, cooler boxes and anything else that will make your shopping trip more pleasant. Make a point of asking traders not to put their products in a bag for you as you have brought your own. Thankfully markets are trolley free zones which saves your ankles from those bad drivers but it can make it harder to shop. A business idea for any keen entrepreneurs – bring back those basket trolleys that old ladies pull behind them along the high streets.

9) Don’t get stuck in a rut. We are always amazed when someone who has been coming to the market for years makes the discovery that the market sells butter/yoghurt etc. Expand your range, try new things; you never know what little gems you may be missing out on.

10) Have fun! Take your time, choose your food carefully, bring the kids, aunties and grannies with you and enjoy yourself. Our favourite people are the ones who can’t stop themselves, cabbage in hand, from doing a little bop down the isles to the music. Markets truly do combine the best of all worlds. Good food, great craft beers, weekly shopping, kids entertainment and community.

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St Patrick’s Day Market (Sat 14th and Wed 18th March)

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Join us on the 5th November for our annual Beerfest!

Earth Fair Market BeerfestWe are very proud of our craft beer selection and we would like to show it off! Please join us on Wednesday 5th November between 3 and 8:30pm for your share of our 14 beers on tap, bratwursts and other German specialities.

The Wednesday market hosts over 40 traders selling a range of fresh produce and delicious foods. The Little People’s Corner is championed by Angie and Hoosna who will make sure that the kids are entertained. See you there and PROST!

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The Big 3 at St. G! Thursday 27th Feb

It is difficult to put into words the special kind of magic that happens in the centre of our beautiful city on a daily basis. There is an energy and a magic that is tangible – I challenge you to take a walk through the Company Gardens and around the city centre to see if you can’t feel it… We, at Earth Fair Market are the luckiest bunch on earth to be able to call the little piece of paradise between Wale St and Church St our home every Thursday from 11am to 3pm.

St Georges hit the ground running 3 years ago and it has become such a firmly entrenched institution that we have been told that people arrange their diaries around it. There seems to be a common ‘no meetings’ policy around the time that the market is on every Thursday. It is very gratifying to stand and survey the joy on people’s faces as they reach the market and smell the aromas, greet their favourite traders, try new flavours or discover a new favourite cheese. We start getting desperate weekly Tuesday Tweets from people wishing it was Thursday already!

Our gratitude towards the City of Cape Town, the CCID and the St Georges Forum is huge. We have seen first-hand the levels of passion and professionalism that is behind the running of our beautiful city. From the CCID security and cleaners to the strategic minds who run the City – it is truly no accident that we are ‘World Class’. We are delighted to be a part of what makes the City memorable and special. We are also very grateful to Mandela Rhodes Place for welcoming us inside whenever it rains and for the use of amenities and support. Doppio Zero and the Taj thanks to you too!

Huge thanks of course to all the delightful traders that line the streets with their beautiful wares – come rain or shine or the dreaded howling gale… But most of all, thanks to all of you who welcomed us into your lives from day 1 and continue to give us so much fantastic support.

We will be celebrating this Thursday by adding a little bit of extra magic to the market. Please join us!

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Celebrating our 4th Birthday with a Medieval Market Saturday 17th Aug 2013


It has been 4 years of fun, soulful food and community (and some very hard work of course) and we are ready to celebrate our 4th Birthday.

Hear ye, Hear ye good people of Cape Town; We are going back to our roots with a Medieval Market.
Town criers, court jesters, bucking broncos, fair maidens, strapping lads and trader specials await travelers, gentry and commoners alike at Ye Olde Earth Fair in Tokai

Gather ye merry folk and scoundrels on Saturday 17th August between 9-2pm for a day of festivities soaking up the medieval times.
Onwards and upwards we go on our quest to fill the fairest Cape with good, wholesome, soulful food!

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Tokai market open Wednesday 1st May 2013.

We have a great public market day lined up for you tomorrow. All the usual treats but come early as Debbie the saxophone lady will be playing from 4pm. Join us for a shop, some drinks and some supper.

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We’re going green for St Patrick’s Day Market – Sat 16th March

Green beer for St Patrick’s Day

We always claim to green but this Saturday we will be going extra green for St Patrick’s Day. Join us for green beer, ‘green’ food and green traders. We can’t promise that you’ll see any leprechauns but we can promise that you’ll see lots of people in small hats selling their delicious wares. Join us for some fresh produce shopping and lots of Irish inspired fun and let’s paint the town green!

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It’s almost a wrap!

Handmade cushion from The Bazaar

We are gearing up for our Xmas Market tomorrow (19th Dec) from 3-8:30pm and are really excited about all the beautiful handmade goods that will be on offer. Please come and support these budding artisans and small business owners and do your Xmas shopping in a relaxing, vibey setting.

We have a few Xmas specials from our usual traders; the Laughing Croc will be adding Darling’s Christmas Beer to their already extensive range of craft beers; Oded’s Kitchen will be selling a delicious sounding Absinthe and Prickly Pear Glaze to be used with gammon; Gourmet Pantry have yummy Xmas Pies; the Country Butcher will be running a special on their free range lamb at R80/kg and Top Nosh have their delightful range of Lebkuchen Treehangers and German Biscuits (Speculatius and Almond Kipferl) as well as the gingerbread houses and even do-it-yourself ones for the kiddies.

Chanci will be making decor and Xmas crackers with kids in the Little People’s Corner so all in all this is the perfect opportunity to shop, eat, drink and be merry. See you there!

Please note that the Tokai Market will be holding it’s last market this Saturday (22nd Dec) and we re-open for trading on Sat 5th Jan. St Georges will have its last market this Thursday (20th Jan) and we re-open at St Georges on 10th Jan.

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Our 4th Annual Christmas Market – Wed 19th Dec 3-8:30pm

Gift of Love

We are excitedly gearing up for our Xmas Market on Wednesday, 19th December. We have lined up some great handmade goods traders – ranging from hand-printed linen, bamboo designer t-shirts, natural skin products, handmade jewellery etc. The Xmas goods traders will be hosted under the big Bedouin at the entrance to the Tokai market and it will coincide with our popular weekly festive night market.

Avoid the malls and bring the kids, aunties, neighbours and friends for a great night of Xmas shopping, eating and drinking. Market goers can enjoy our usual range of delicious eats from paella to Mexican tacos, a huge range of craft beers and organic wines, farm cheeses, free range meat, artisan breads etc. Our lovely ‘Little People’s Corner’ team will be doing some great Xmas decor and cracker making activities for kiddies.

Please join us for some fabulous fun filled Xmas shopping. See you there!

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Clean slate for Movember at Earth Fair

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.

On Movember 1st, guys register at Movember.com with a clean-shaven face and for the rest of the month these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Mo Sistas are the women who register to support the men in their lives, raising funds by seeking sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

This coming Wednesday not only marks the end of October (and therefore Halloween!!) but also marks the clean slate that all men should have before they embark on their Movember growing journey. Please come and join the NCC Environmental Services team at the Earth Fair Market in Tokai for the Halloween/Octoberfest/Movember festivities and show some love to our Movember donation box. We will be setting up a shaving/clipping/awareness booth at the market and so it would be awesome to see as many of you there as possible.

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