When a Market is not just a Market ....

... it's a community event ...

Recently I've had cause to think about how I describe the market that I manage in Wagga Wagga, in country NSW, Australia.

Besides the obvious description that I use all the time - 'a country handmade market' - I've realised that I don't even use the word 'market' when describing River & Wren anymore.  I simply call it River & Wren.

Actually, to be honest, it's not a realisation at all.  This has been a deliberate strategy on my behalf.   And I'm thrilled that locally I hear people talking about River & Wren all the time.  They don't mention 'market' either.

To me, River & Wren is not just a market, it is a community event.  (Read here the story behind River & Wren.)

A community event held six times a year.  Not weekly or monthly like most markets, but an event to be anticipated.  An event that is marked in the diary.  An event that if missed, our visitors have to wait another 2 months before they can experience another River & Wren.

I'm thrilled when visitors come to the market to shop up big.  But I'm just as happy when they only come to River & Wren to catch up with family and friends for a day out.  I love watching the tables in our Market Cafe fill with happy people sipping on our barista coffee and nibbling on (or devouring) a delicious homemade cake while chatting with friends.  I'm even more thrilled when I notice that they're back in the Cafe a few hours later enjoying lunch from one of our street food sellers!

I love love love that the community sees the market as an opportunity to catch up with friends.   I especially love watching people unexpectedly run into friends at the market.  I love watching them huddle in little groups chatting, and eventually making their way to the Market Cafe to continue their conversations over coffee.  I know of people who visit every market with the same friends.  It's become their own River & Wren tradition!

I just love that River & Wren has found its very own place in our community.

I love that families come to River & Wren.

Once upon a time, a handmade "craft" market would generally only attract women.  I know that's stereotyping - but it's the truth!  "Craft" is not a word I use in association with the market as River & Wren is so much more than "craft".  My strategy from the beginning was to create an event that appealed to all sections of our community.

I know that a boutique handmade artisan market is not for everyone.  But by only offering market shops to high-end artisans, providing entertainment for children and introducing a gourmet food hall, we attract a wonderful cross-section of our local community.  And thrillingly, many of our visitors now travel many many hours to experience River & Wren.  And for this market manager, that warms my heart no end!

Thank you to everyone who appreciates and loves River & Wren as much as I do.

How would you describe River & Wren?