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Weekend pop-up markets are all the rage in Singapore now. Here are four to perk you up.
Ten years ago, going to the market meant haggling for fish and vegetables at the local wet market in Singapore. But today, going to the market means heading down to one of the many weekend pop-up markets, which sell all sorts of artsy wares.
By definition, these events appear mostly on Fridays and the weekend, and consist of makeshift booths where vendors ply their handmade wares. In common parlance, it’s a hipster pasar malam (Malay for night street market) that lasts a few days.
The beauty of pop-up markets is that their marketing is usually done via word of mouth. Organisers often publicise their next event through social media channels only, which lends a certain charm and exclusivity.
Feel like nosing around a casual weekend market? Here are four weekend pop-up fairs to visit. You’ll need to follow their Facebook pages or websites to know where and when the markets open. It wouldn’t be a real pop-up market if you didn’t, right?
Craft market: The Local People
“The Local People are nomadic space activators who seek to repurpose disused and defunct places around Singapore,” explains 28-year-old co-founder Lu Yawen. “At the same time, we offer a platform for Singaporean artists and makers.”
The market, which started in May 2014, launched their e-store in January this year. Priority is given to Singaporean artisans and craftsmen selling items made or designed in Singapore, and can range from hand-drawn illustrations on print to knitted accessories and churros.
“The general public is more aware of the Singaporean craftsmen and artists that exist now. Hopefully, we can continue to increase awareness one art market at a time,” says Lu.
Design market: MAAD (market of artists and designers)
One of the biggest and oldest weekend pop-up markets in Singapore, MAAD began in July 2006 as a marketplace dedicated to original design works. Since then, it has been hosted monthly at the Red Dot Design Museum.
“There was a gap in the arts market back in 2006,” says organiser Elvin Seah, 31. “MAAD became the pioneer in creating a space for the local creative community to gather, test the market and showcase their works.”
MAAD also regularly sees start-ups coming in to promote their brand, raise awareness, and find potential customers. But the most important criteria for vendors is that they must have creative input in the final product or service.
“Art marketplaces are no longer associated with fleas and second-hand items. The level of quality expected in art marketplaces has evolved,” observes Seah.
Makers market: Togetherly
Started last year by a group of friends in the entertainment industry, Togetherly features businesses based in Singapore that don’t have a shopfront. Markets are often located at popular venues such as Orchard Central or Wisma Atria.
“We wanted to bring these businesses to places with mass audiences,” says Wendy Ng, 37, one of the three co-organisers. “Places like shopping malls give them the right platform to be featured.”
Vendors sell all sorts of products and services: terrariums, tarot-card readings, and air plants (the common name for plant species that grow without soil and which require little watering). There’s even a book exchange at this pop-up!
“One of my greatest hopes is to bring our Singapore makers abroad. We want to create a platform where they get to showcase their products and be able to sell overseas, instead of having Singapore as the only platform,” says Ng.
WHERE Various locations
Comics market: Starving Artist Fair
True to its name, the Starving Artist Fair sells no food, but original comics, fan art, and handicrafts. This comics market, which pops up bimonthly at *SCAPEmedia Hub and began this year with two successful runs in March and May, has been touted as a good test-market for aspiring comic book creators.
“It’s a way to be exposed to a curation leaning more towards original comics and artworks,” says J F Koh, 44, one of the organisers. “But for comics entrepreneurs, it is a boot camp to learn about the business side of comics and creativity.”
Koh’s dream is to see the comics industry flourish in Singapore, an aspiration he shares with Naomi Kojima, a Japanese author/illustrator of picture books.
“Naomi says it would probably take about a generation to take off. So it’s not something that can be built up overnight, but an effort that will take decades to develop,” shares Koh.