by Helen Martin
While markets come and go the Kaukapakapa Village Market, held every third Sunday of the month at the Kaukapakapa Hall and its surrounds, continues to grow from strength to strength thanks to the efforts of market owner/organiser Sarah Legg. Sarah has been a stall holder herself for many years in a variety of venues, as well as running a craft shop and, in her current business, owning and supplying a gift basket service and creating and selling corrugated iron garden art. Her enjoyment of event organisation and management and the fact that she likes people can be seen in a CV which includes President of the Helensville District Business Association and street stall organiser for Christmas Parade and Heritage Days. Key to the great success of the market is Sarah’s commitment to making sure all the boxes are ticked and nothing, except the weather, is left to chance.
Sarah first became involved in the market in December 2009 when Kaukapakapa local Kim Bartlett bought the business and invited Sarah to join as a co-organiser. They had two weeks to put together their first market and were pleased to book 12 stall holders. Sarah enjoyed the challenge and when Kim left the district four years later took over the market as its sole operator. Under her management, the market has grown to the point where, according to the season, there are usually between 50 to 80 stalls open for business.
The key to the market’s success is a ton of hard work and meticulous management. Even before a market’s tables are packed away Sarah has been planning the next one, contacting all the stallholders on her database to see if they want to book in again and booking musicians for the live music which is a regular feature. There’s another database of former customers and they’re also contacted. Then there’s the advertising - placing notices in local papers, having fliers printed then distributing them and updating online sites like the Local Matters event calendar, Eventfinder and the 20 Facebook groups where Sarah shares the Kaukapakapa Village Market news. Two weeks ahead she puts out signs on the roads and in the communal areas, following this a week later with more signs. On market day more signs and bunting, usually set out by Sarah’s husband Bruce, lead the market-goer to where it’s all happening.
Then there’s market day itself, which begins at 4am for Sarah and Bruce as they have just a couple of hours to set up the hall and organise parking for the stall holders, including those having car boot sales. Then it’s up to the market to weave its magic. There’s plenty of food - the Lions’ sausage sizzle, candy floss, donuts, fritters in summer, Melanie in the hall kitchen with her pies, cakes and sandwiches – and tea and coffee of course. The Lions are there with their mini book fair, Sharon and others are inside spinning and knitting, the musicians provide a sound track from the stage and the stalls, inside and out, offer a wonderful array of bric a brac, jewellery, jams and preserves, plants, second hand clothes, handmade quilts, skin care products, French coffee ground on the spot, jewellery, knitted toys and canvas art, to name just a few of the options. There’s also limited cash out facility, useful if you come unprepared.
The other attraction is the adjacent historic Kaukapakapa Library which, courtesy of Kaukapakapa community stalwart Megan Paterson, is open to the public during market hours. As well as providing an opportunity to soak up something of the past, Megan books speakers who bring the enjoyment of books alive with their knowledge and experience as writers, illustrators and story tellers.
Sarah likes to have special events, like the spring festival market she holds each November and the popular haggis address last January. Winter markets can be quieter, but on a good day hundreds of people turn up. Some are regulars, many are local, but more and more out-of-towners are coming to check out what’s going on in the country. Not everyone comes to buy. “Some people come to socialise, see their neighbours and have a coffee,” says Sarah. “It’s a chance to get off the farm for a bit before they have to go back to the chores.”
Organising and running the Kaukapakapa Village Market may be a lot of work and effort, but Sarah is really proud of how she’s built it up and pleased that the atmosphere is always so positive. “We’re like a big family,” she says. “I always enjoy market day.”