In our times we’ve all been to markets. The good ones. The bad ones. And then there are the great ones. Yet defining what precisely makes a market great is no easy task, try as we might. Great markets have that it factor, that cool vibe, that relevancy that even the most vapid of celebrities depend on for their success. Great markets are to good markets what Paris’ Colette is to good stores – light year’s apart. None of this is to say that a great market is without its formula, indeed even Colette has one, it’s just not obvious to the casual observer nor easy for competitors to finger and then replicate.
Launching its new SO:ME Space, South Melbourne Market has tried not only to find a formula, it has worked hard to implement it. Head behind its Victorian cast-iron awnings and amongst the isles that once would have been the home of in-numerous grocers and you’ll find a selection of stores that are wholly ‘un-market’ as far as Australian public markets go.
Each of the stores sits within a certain vibe, a vibe that would be easy to write off as hipster were it not for those that work against that grain. Instead it’s safer to say that they’re all independent, curated and rather niche. Amongst what the SO:ME Space stores offer up includes design focussed bicycles, paired back men’s fashion of the kind that sees canvas backpacks aplenty from Mr Simple, a gallery space, and a jewellery designer that offers bespoke pieces.
Most of it is left of centre – and with good cause. The South Melbourne market sits within an outer-city area popular with the young. Accordingly the gentrification of a marketplace only makes sense. The question is whether what’s on offer is compelling enough to attract the area’s young population to its isles? I’m not certain that it’s compelling enough to bring people from far afield, but it’s certainly compelling to local at a time when the whole area is being gentrified and young home owners are increasingly turning their backs on the country’s big supermarkets in favour of a market-based grocery experience. In such times of generational change, a mixture of weekly supplies, fashion offerings and the nearby eateries may just prove to be a mixture that takes the South Melbourne market into the league of great markets. It’s certainly a formula that shan’t hurt.
You can see pictures from the launch of SO:ME Space by clicking on the thumbnails above.