Destination Markets: A Renaissance

by | Jan 9, 2017 | Retail Design

In an age of huge technological change, sophistication, and advancement, there seems to be a contrasting trend when it comes to some aspects of our leisure shopping habits. Ask just about anyone for their thoughts on “markets” and they’ll quickly enthuse about what they love: the authenticity, smells, characters, variety, new things, old things – the list goes on and on.

For years, visiting markets whilst abroad has been a happy highlight for British holidaymakers (not to mention a nice a break from the beach). But now markets here in the UK are experiencing a renaissance. We’re not talking about the basic local street market (think phone covers, fruit, veg, and dodgy geezers). The real reinvention is amongst “Destination Markets”.

Farmers’ markets, gourmet markets, vintage markets, tourist markets, flower markets, art markets… so many to choose from. But no matter the focus or specialism, they all encompass some core attributes that high street retailers have been trying to capture for years: realness, authenticity, backstories, provenance, and vendors with passion and entrepreneurial energy that keeps things fresh, original, and constantly changing.

Stalwart Old Spitalfields Market in London’s East End has a changing programme of events and products – from free tango to art, vintage, and vinyl. Over in South London Borough Market is well-established as the mecca for high end artisan produce. And Time Out is seeking to replicate the success of its Lisbon Market, with the launch of something similar in London’s Shoreditch in the second half of 2017.

But newcomer Mercato Metropolitano goes one step further. It revolves around individuals: small-scale farmers, local producers and members of the local community. It has a profound commitment to the area’s social fabric and provides an experience that goes beyond eating. This fundamentally repositions the market as a local community hub whilst encouraging repeat visits. Just a few of Mercato Metropolitano’s endeavours include: an on-site urban garden teaches how food is grown, cooking classes, live demonstrations given by local producers, specially curated films and cultural programmes at an on-site arts centre/cinema, and affordable workspace for the emerging entrepreneurial community.

For city dwellers with busy lives, infinite access to ideas and information, and the ability to have most things delivered in two hours, shopping in the physical world needs to really deliver something special. Destination markets do that in spades – offering excellent value and experience in exchange for time spent there. Retailers take heed!

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