Night market gains momentum in third year

Out-of-town vendors angling to get into mix

Halfway through its third season, the Oak Bay Village night market is proving to be a huge success, ensuring it will be around for years to come.

The market, which takes over Oak Bay Avenue on the third Wednesday of each month throughout the summer, has grown by leaps and bounds since starting in 2009.

“We’ve seen more attendance and we have way more vendors,” said Heather Leary, project and communications manager for the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association.

“Overwhelmingly, people have embraced this. Because it’s only once a month, people put it on their calendar as a special event.”

A major part of the market’s success has been the support it has received from businesses in the Village. Many shops and galleries on the avenue typically close around the dinner hour on Wednesdays. But with the market running from 4 to 8 p.m., owners have extended their opening hours on those days.

“Whatever was best for the avenue, we would support it,” said Wendy Cornock, co-owner of Oak Bay Flower Shop.

People who stop by her shop are surprised to find out how much of her stock is locally grown, she added. “It does make our neighbourhood more aware of what we do.”

According to Leary, about 85 vendors take part in the market each month. Some participate intermittently, while others are mainstays. The rotation allows for a wide variety of products, the vast majority of which are locally produced.

Despite that mandate, interest is spreading up the Island.

“I’ve had two calls from Pender Island people wanting to come over,” said Leary. “We’ve had calls from Duncan.”

Markets like this one are particularly important for local artists, who are always looking for ways to keep overhead costs down.

“I choose not to sell my cards in shops,” said artist/photographer Joanie McCorry, “so when I can tell people to come to the market and check out my cards, I think it’s a win-win and opens people’s eyes to what else is around.”

McCorry said she would support the market moving to a biweekly schedule.

The BIA will examine all options at the end of the season, said Leary.

“What could we change or expand or modify?” she said. “Do people want to see more frequency?”

For the time being, she is content that the market continues to thrive.

“Since we started doing the (Christmas) Light Up 10 years ago, people were asking for a market. Now that we’ve got it going, I think we’ll be having it for a long time.”

The third Oak Bay night market of the summer happens Aug. 17 from 4 to 8 p.m. The final market of 2011 will be held on Sept. 21.

editor@oakbaynews.com