Sunday 4 February 2018

Heard Under The Sheds – String Bean Alley Roof

There is major concern that improvements to String Bean Alley and the provision of additional containers will not involve adequate weather protection.

String Bean Alley has been dogged by one major limitation since its inception – it does not feel part of the market. Customers who religiously take the “S” trek up and down aisle after aisle in the top end do not include String Bean Alley. It is considered a convenient thoroughfare for trolley pushers going from Peel St to the lower market because of its wide aisles and comparatively smaller crowds. Some enticing offers in the containers on the southern, or car park, side of the aisle do help attract destination traffic but not to the same degree as under the sheds.

We can theorise on the many possible reasons for lack of foot traffic. The fact that only one side of the aisle is populated by traders, whilst the other side is the home of storage boxes and vehicles (with a few exceptions) probably doesn’t help. The aisle just doesn’t look busy and the addition of containers on the northern side will certainly improve the look. But it is still not part of the market and it can be argued that without a roof it will be difficult to maximise business in the aisle. Interestingly, one trader suggested that the night market traffic in SBA was quite good, but he theorised that at night there is no perception of separation, unless it is raining.

Another trader suggested that the thousands of dollars saved on reducing the size of the New Market Pavilion would be well spent on a roof over String Bean Alley.

So what weather protection is proposed on the north side of the aisle? We understand that containers will have lift up fronts that act as a type of veranda. The current containers on the south side have a full length roof above them which certainly offers superior protection but neither are as good as a roof over the aisle.

String Bean Alley was a good idea but it started off half-baked. Now that we have the opportunity, and the resources, it would be a shame not to correct past follies and turn this part of our market into a really productive trading area. And if this debate is getting bogged down by “open air market” supporters then perhaps we should remind them that it is business activity that pays the rent and neglecting business realities for aesthetics is a dangerous course for any market. Big crowds and busy traders can be a beautiful thing as well and once we replace the car park with a green park there will be plenty of nearby space for aesthetics.

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