Confusion over market close, sad stallholders in disbelief
GUTTED stallholders are still in shock and looking for answers after they were this morning told their favourite market would be no more.
After months of preparation, Warwick candle maker Donna Hey set up her stall at the Uber Markets for the first time this morning only to have her business aspirations come to an abrupt end.
Mrs Hey was among more than fifteen stallholders who were advised by market founder Christie Shepherd that the monthly event was winding up after four years.
"I'm shattered," Mrs Hey said.
"It made me feel like just packing up and going. What is the use in starting something that I can't continue?"
Mrs Shepherd said the market was ending after a request was made by Southern Downs Regional Council.
"The council wants everyone to stop driving on the grass," she said.
"Seventy per cent of my stall holders would not come back which makes it not really a viable market.
"They told me a few months ago and I have been trying to think of something that we can do but it was just one of those things. We had a good run," she said.
At the time of publication, the council had been unable to confirm whether such a request had been made.
Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie declined to comment, saying she first wished to establish the facts.
Community wants an alternative
Whispers of shock and confusion rippled through Leslie Park as families strolled through the vibrant stalls for the second-last time this morning.
"It's sad news because I actually look forward to coming here," Julie Brooks said.
Some have called for the market to be held elsewhere.
"So why not have it somwhere else in town?" Lucy Wattson said on social media.
But Mrs Shepherd said she could not think of a viable alternative.
"I just don't see where we would go especially for customers. I don't want to miss out if we move it to a bad spot," she said.
Mrs Shepherd started the markets four years ago in an attempt to give visitors and locals something to do on a Saturday morning.
"It put something in the town that families could bring their kids to and have a bit of fun without breaking the budget," she said.
Economic losses to flow
For regular stallholders, the market has become an important source of income.
Tony Calvisi has been selling his fruit and vegetables at the market from day dot.
"We will just have to pick up another market somewhere else but it will be the township of Warwick that will miss out," he said.
Mrs Shepherd estimated charities like the Warwick Lions Club would lose income within the thousands.
But it's not just the humans that will lose out.
Southern Downs ARK president Ann Simon said the markets provided an opportunity to re-home abandoned animals who were in foster care.
"I am very sorry for Warwick and particularly for the cats. We don't get a lot of dog adoptions here but for the cats I am very sorry," she said.