A reasonably large amount of people browsing and buying goods at the various stands lining the quaint pavements, even in cold and rainy weather, attested to the warm inviting atmosphere of this wholesome market.
Positioned in the Willowbridge Lifestyle Centre with its beautiful open air design and fountains and greenery gives the market an authentic outdoor feel, one where purchases can by supplemented by the 85 shops in the mall. It is a perfect example of fast-paced living conveniently meeting relaxed natural goodness.
The permanent shops include the standard retail giants like Woolworths, Checkers and Pick n Pay as well as numerous clothing and unique lifestyle stores. These shops are positioned along two rows across from each other, overlooking a long rectangular open air space in between, along which the market stalls meander.
The set up is perfectly designed for sunny days, but on a rainy day its popularity can lead to a little crowding while everyone tries to keep under the shelter of the covered spaces. Those who can look past the elbow brushes and limited space will be greeted by knowledgeable and passionate producers with unique, authentic products. Samples, advice and chatter abound, and the smell of fresh breads and the friendly advice from producers took me from a casual bystander to feeling as though I was visiting old friends.
It is useful to know that the main concentration is on food stuffs and fresh produce. There are no clothes or crafted items and only a few stalls selling products such as pet food, plastic ware, herbs and plants.
While there are not many stalls or a wide variety of goods, each stand is unique in its offering with no two producers selling the same product. Cakes and pastries, artisan breads, award winning cheeses, rusks, farm fresh produce, organic deli meats, air-dried fruit and nuts, and Indian cuisine are all presented in an eye-catching and mouth-salivating way across the various tables.
As Morné Marais, a distributor of natural and organic products pointed out, this slow market has a distinctly different vibe to other markets due to the fact that the retail aspect of the centre attracts people who would not normally go to a slowmarket. “This generates exposure and a sense of community for all shoppers”, he explained, and “broadens the shopping experience”.
If nothing else, I found it rather refreshing to nibble air-dried organic gooseberries while contemplating how to justify my impending purchase of the latest Nine West tote bag.
by Charlotte Bieldt
The Willowbridge slow market takes place every Saturday at the Willowbridge Lifestyle Centre in Durbanville. For more information visit www.willowbridge.co.za