Shoppers flocked to a new mecca on Sunday when Ballarat’s boutiques came together for the first Ballarat Boutique Market.
Usually boutique stores exist in their own space but the inaugural boutique market assembled 16 boutique retail stores in the warmth of the Ballarat Mining Exchange as part of the Ballarat Winter Festival.
Shoppers eschewed the big chain stores looking for items with heart, many made in the region and sold by committed small business owners.
Organiser Kate Davies said many of the shoppers shared her passion for boutique local businesses.
“Supporting our local businesses and shopping local is everything for me. I used to work in retail so it’s important that we put a spotlight on our local retail boutiques because the quality is superb,” she said.
Retailers from all sectors found space inside the Mining Exchange with homewares, clothing and shoes taking up space alongside cushions and upholstery, skin care, children’s items and handbags.
“We’ve had a whole range of really diverse offerings which is exactly what we are trying to prove – that in Ballarat we have great retail,” Ms Davies said.
“The key thing is we’ve had 1000 people here and for those retailers to be able to showcase their products to that many people in one day is really phenomenal.”
Ms Davies, who organised Plate Up Ballarat in May, was inspired to pull the boutiques together for a market because she struggles to get to all the stores she wants to.
“I work full time and don’t always get to go in to these boutique retail stores, and I imagine many other people haven’t been able to get to them either, or don’t know about them,” she said.
“This is a one stop shop for people, bringing them all together to give people the opportunity to find them.”
Caroline Sanders from Victoria Street knitwear boutique Ella Sanders said the market had been a wonderful success.
“It’s been a great day especially for getting your name out there. In Ballarat the shops are so dispersed and people tend to get on trend and know one place or another, but here you can see so many stores in one place,” Ms Sanders said.
“The people that are shopping here are looking for something and they prefer to not be ambushed by a million things but prefer to know it’s quality and it’s good.”