Community stories: 12 July 2016
An hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne, you’ll find Maldon, a town that takes you back to life in the gold rush era. Maldon is Australia’s only National Trust classified town – Australia’s First Notable (1966) and Most Intact Heritage Streetscape (2006).
While the town is old, the Maldon Neighbourhood Centre is new and progressive. A report commissioned by the Mt Alexander Shire Council in 2011 showed that the number of vacant retail outlets in Maldon was increasing and the level of visitor and local spending was decreasing.
Jenny Merkus, President of the Maldon Neighbourhood Centre saw a great opportunity to turn this trend around.
“The two main gaps in the Maldon shopping centre were fresh fruit and vegetables and ‘speciality’ shops. Maldon and the surrounding communities are bursting with growers, as well as talented artists, jewellery designers, sewers and bakers – so we thought a monthly market, utilising the local talent, could fill this gap,” said Jenny.
“An ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant of $5,000 gave us the opportunity to promote the market and raise awareness across the region and we utilised local newspaper advertising and a targeted postcard distribution to households, information centres, shops and cafes.”
A multiplier effect on the local economy
The initial aim was to attract 500 people to the market in the first few months, and now an average of 1,200 people turn up each month.
“Our vision for the market was to provide a genuine service, social activity and pride of place for local residents. Since launching at the end of 2013, we have certainly achieved this and the local residents are enjoying the benefits,” Jenny said.
Jenny elaborated on these benefits in a report to FRRR, outlining specific examples, including:
- Retired residents find the market convenient and easily accessible, as well as a great social outing.
- Market stallholders have a local opportunity to sell their wares at a low risk platform.
- Existing stores are pleased with the increase in visitors to the town, as well as taking pressure off for services that they don’t deliver.
- The market has provided a socially diverse public place for local people of all ages to come together and enjoy the food, shopping, music and conversation.
Given this success, obviously the grant was well spent on raising awareness of the market in the local region.
Learn more about the market by watching this short film.