Bay Harbour market: a real place for real people

Private Property South Africa
Bridget McNulty

Hear from Anthony Stroebel, co-founder of the Bay Harbour market in Hout Bay, about what makes this market such a special place.

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How, and when, did you come up with the idea for the Bay Harbour market?

My partner, Paul Rutzen, and I discovered the building in September 2009 and immediately knew that it was a special venue with unique energy — although, at the time, it was derelict and located in what some would call the ‘less savoury’ part of the Hout Bay harbour. We were excited about the opportunity to unlock what is actually a magical area of Hout Bay and, in the process, catalyse upliftment of the area.

Hout Bay as an urban enclave is a unique community in the South African context in that it embodies a diverse mix of cultures and social strata. Our intention was to try to bring people together to celebrate this diversity through a community-based retail platform and, in the process, create jobs and opportunities for micro-enterprise to flourish. It took us the better part of two years to make this dream a reality, but on 2 July 2010, on a wet and blustery winter’s day, we opened our doors to 3 000 visitors.

What makes the Bay Harbour market different from Cape Town’s other markets?

A number of things. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, with the mighty Chapman’s Peak looming overhead, it has a real sense of place. We’ve hand-picked our traders, not only on the quality of their products, but also their cultural fit — based on the principle of a real market for real people. Then there is our live music on the KWV Sound Stage: one of the unique live-music experiences in Cape Town.

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What community-building initiatives do you have in place?

Key to our vision and mission, from day one, has been the social and economic upliftment of the inhabitants of the Hangberg fishing village. All artisans required to develop the original infrastructure (plumbers, builders, electricians and painters) were employed only from Hangberg, and a cleaning company was initiated and mentored to the extent that it is today owned by Ronel Hendricks, a Hangberg resident. All traders are required to employ support staff from Hangberg, and today we employ 65 people from the area.

We aspire to a vision of zero waste by the end of 2014 and are currently well on the way, with only 25% of our waste now going to landfill. We have partnered with Thrive, an organisation that unites Hout Bay through environmental awareness events and action projects, working closely with them in educating the children of Hangberg through the development of organic vegetable gardening. We have also launched a range of serviettes called Smipes — ‘wiping smiles across South Africa’ — which are utilised by all our food traders and serve to raise funds for early childhood development in South Africa. We are in the process of rolling out Smipes around Cape Town as a Born at Bay Harbour initiative.

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Will the market be open and playing music throughout the winter season?

Winter is fabulous at the Bay Harbour market so, yes, we will be open during our usual trading times: Fridays from 5pm to 9pm and weekends from 9.30am to 4pm, with live music every day. And, of course, Cape Town’s biggest fireplace will be roaring.

Photographs: Mike Rose

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