An established Brisbane market will close at the end of the month after eight years of operation. Eagle Farm Markets operator Brisbane Markets Limited and site partner Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) called time on the weekly Sunday event this week. BRC chairman Neville Bell said while the decision was a difficult one, visitor numbers had been declining for some time and had dropped by almost 25 per cent in one year.
“The challenges were numerous including the fact that several other markets had opened within our catchment in recent years and we had to temporarily move the markets to Doomben while [the] Ascot House [apartments] was being constructed,” he told members in a statement.
Sammy Power, who now runs the Jan Powers Farmers Markets started by her mum, says she believes the move between the two race tracks hurt the business.
“It takes a long time to bed things in,” she says. Power thinks the decision to not allow dogs and to charge an entry fee also may have impacted visitor numbers.
Mark Power (unrelated to Sammy), who owns five markets across Brisbane, including one three kilometres from Eagle Farm at Nundah, says he doesn't buy the explanation about increased competition. "There hasn't been any new markets," he says.
But he doesn't think the closure is a reflection of the health of the city's market scene. "We think markets have never been more prevalent," he says.
Sammy Power, though, thinks the Brisbane market market may have reached a saturation point.
“There's probably 10 times more people going to markets, [but] there are [also] 20 times more markets,” she says.
The last Eagle Farm Markets will be held on Sunday October 28. Mark Power says 20 stallholders have already jumped ship to his Nundah Markets and he expects more by the end of the month.
Meanwhile Sammy Power has not ruled out working with the BRC to relaunch at the race track.
"I think it'd be a great tribute to my mother," she says. "I'm going to write to them today."
Both the BRC and Brisbane Markets Limited refused to comment to Broadsheet on the closure.
Eagle Street Markets
Eagle Farm Racecourse, 230 Lancaster Road, Ascot
Sunday 7am to 12.30pm