Auckland is missing out on tourism dollars and job creation by lacking a world-class market in its CBD, says a clothes designer and advocate for small business.
Since the city's band of marketeers packed up their stalls in Aotea Square in 2008 to make way for an $80 million civic revamp, they have mourned the loss of a central, permanent and sheltered space, said Kim Moore de Cerqueira.
She had seen a lot of markets overseas that were tourist attractions.
"Tourists are hungry to buy unique and interesting goods. A quality market has huge potential as an avenue for selling New Zealand-made products and encouraging small business people to try out innovative ideas."
Auckland has many small markets but they are not held frequently enough to allow people to earn a stable income and real capital to grow their businesses, she says.
She had asked Auckland Council to consider making available a central venue for a main market as part of the Auckland Plan's ambition to grow economically and create one of the world's most liveable cities.
Lucy Yahel, a designer for Bettie Monroe, said a stall at Aotea Square for four-and-a- half years resulted in shops at Takapuna, Mt Maunganui and Whangamata.
"The market was a great incubator because its low overheads gave an opportunity to test the market and learn what people like and to build up confidence. We built up enough revenue to take on the lease of a shop and now we employ more than 20 people."
Natalie Donze, of Heart of the City, said the CBD was redefining itself as a destination of unique offerings.
"A successfully run market of scale has the potential to be a fantastic driver and something Heart of the City would support."
In the age of online shopping transactions a market could be an appealing "experiential" alternative.
Heart of the City was arranging a Christmas Market in Aotea Square from December 12 to 24.
However, Cameron Brewer, who is Auckland Council business advisory panel chairman and deputy chairman of its Economic Forum, ruled out a comeback for a permanent market at Aotea Square.
He said its return would limit public events and exhibitions which earned a considerable income for council company The Edge.
"For sure, when the old Victoria Park Market's $20 million renovation is complete early next year, there won't be accommodation for entry-level stallholders. But that does not mean there are not places for them in Auckland if there is demand."