By Lourice Chidiac:
Beneath the steps of Parramatta Town Hall lies a new hub of creativity for Sydney’s West in the form of Lovers Markets.
The $5 million refurbishment of the area has brought the Centennial Memorial Drinking Fountain and clock back to working-condition, as well as the installation of modern street furniture, an upgrade of public amenities and new paving and lighting.
Lovers Markets, directed by Sally Issa, has been operating, since 2014. Ms Issa started the project on Parramatta’s Church Street, a strip of eateries designed to draw crowds of people who are both locals and visitors.
Lovers Markets offers a diverse range of stalls from women and men’s fashion, accessories, beauty, to homewares, stationary, music, art and food stalls.
“It is something that has been needed for a long time and nobody had done it yet, so I did,” said Ms Issa.
“Lovers Markets was put together to not only showcase Sydney’s most talented, but also to inspire and motivate, allowing them a secure platform to elevate their passion to the next level.”
Ms Issa, who originated from Sydney’s West and is a designer by trade, used to sell her own designs and travelled to Glebe Markets every weekend to do it.
“I always travelled to the city to showcase my products. Parramatta is the second biggest city and it’s booming, so it is the perfect location,” she said.
Ms Issa found a name for the project, paying tribute to the passion and love of each stallholder and creator.
“The idea was all about my love and passion, that is what Lovers Markets represents,” said Ms Issa.
Stallholders apply through the Lovers Markets website, and if successful, they rent a ‘space’ by paying a fee.
Kaisser Khater, director of Kayter Co says, “it’s the perfect place to meet other stallholders who we could partner with to strengthen our business and who understand what works in the market environment”.
Stephanie Nehme, a local resident and Lovers Markets customer says, “it’s been a long time coming. It’s something fresh and new for the area.”
“The markets are recognising Parramatta as a thriving city with nightlife, entertainment, and attractions that should be celebrated too.”
“Stigmas that are commonly attached to anything in the Western Suburbs, can now change and that is so important, especially for the creative people in the area” said Ms Nehme.
Samira Nicholas, founder of SOS Wellbeing says, “Lovers Markets, are a great way to share what we do with a larger audience.”
John Chedid, former Lord Mayor of Parramatta, says, “Council was and still is looking to activate keys areas of Parramatta City through innovation, creativity, and more importantly events and attractions that would contribute to the diversity of Sydney’s West in positive ways.”
”Lovers Markets represents a new generation of aspiring artists from the Western Sydney and in particular the Parramatta region,” he said.
“Sally is an example for the younger generation to go out and follow their dreams and their local community is the first place to start”.
Parramatta Council approved Lovers Markets in March 2014.
Ms Issa said she felt the council supported the project from start to finish. She plans to open in Williamstown, Victoria by the end of 2015.
Lovers Markets trades on the last Saturday of every month at Centenary Square from 10am-4pm.
IMAGE: Samira Nicholas and Joanne Laoulach from SOS Wellbeing at the Lovers Markets. Picture by Lourice Chidiac