by Bai Xu and Pan Xiangyue
CANBERRA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Ten years ago, when Julie Nichols struggled to find a venue for her handmade market in Australia's capital, she could never imagine that it could one day be so popular that visitors sometimes had to queue at the entrance.
"We now have 270 businesses who are doing very well," said the 51-year-old organizer.
"Customers have an opportunity here to support handmade. That is awesome," she said.
This weekend marks the tenth anniversary for Handmade Canberra Market. The three halls in the Exhibition Park were packed with people in spite of the rain. They could find clothes, books, dazzling earrings and necklaces, uniquely designed utensils, as well as exotic food and snacks.
Nichols was a milliner and a stallholder for a very long time. More than a decade ago, when she moved back to Canberra, she found the market here had not changed.
"I thought maybe we should have a market just for people who make handmade products," she recalled.
The first handmade market, in November of 2008, was in the Albert Hall where there were only more than 30 stalls and more than 2,000 visitors.
"The number of our customers reached 33,000 last December," she said. According to the Canberra Times, the Handmade Market attracts 120,000 visitors and generates an estimated 15 million Australian dollars (about 10.7 U.S. dollars) in sales per year.
As the market expands, they changed from one day only in each season to two days to meet the need of more customers. This year to celebrate the 10th birthday, they are going to open one more time in December.
Louise Martiansen has been making porcelain for six years with her LouiseM Studio in Sydney.
About three years ago she learned about the market from someone else who had been here before.
"It is a really nice market, with lovely and chatty people," she was seemingly satisfied. The 31-year-old artisan travelled more than 280 km especially to Canberra yesterday. "It is worth the time to travel," Martiansen said.
Also among the stallholders are Ivan Bullock and Yumi Ando with their And O Design. They moved from Melbourne to Canberra a year ago. This time they brought the jewelry they designed.
"This is a small and isolated city," said Bullock. "It is good to have such a market in Canberra."
There are also some Chinese stalls in the market, like the Little Wu Jianbing.
According to Rosy Zhang who worked in the stall, they started to make Jianbing, or Chinese pancake, in Canberra more than a year ago as the first such store in the city.
"We believe that Jianbing is quite representative for Chinese snacks, so here we are," Zhang said. Many people came to take photos and ask about the snack.
Ken Zhou was from Guangdong province in South China, who has been running the Asian Tiger in Canberra Center for four years. This is the fourth time he came to the market.
"A friend recommended the market to me," he said. His Bao by Asian Tiger was quite welcomed by local visitors. They have sold more than 200 baozi, or steamed stuffed buns, within just one hour.
"We can sell 1,000 to 1,500 a day," he said. "The market helped promote our brand."
After he came to the market, more people followed the brand on social media. "This time we changed the location of our stall, and many people asked on social media 'where are you'," Zhou said.
This is just what Julie Nichols would like to see. "The handmade market is a good opportunity for stallholders," she said.
But her work of organization was far from plain sailing. Now that the market became a buzzing event, she, together with four other staff members, had to arrange everything from parking and public transport to the use of electricity.
But she never thought of giving up. "Not even once," she said. "I don't think it needs to grow bigger. It is good to keep it as current and ensure people enjoy coming."