TRICIA HOGBIN: Market marvels

I REALLY dislike shopping malls, especially in the lead-up to Christmas. Crowded corridors, Christmas carols blaring non-stop, shopping trolleys to be dodged and car parks that are impossible to park in and even more impossible to escape from. 

I rarely, if ever, have a long list of ‘‘wants’’, but as soon as I set foot in a shopping mall I feel deprived and daggy and decide I need a whole heap of stuff that I didn’t even know existed only moments before.

 Thankfully, I haven’t set foot in a shopping mall for almost a year. I’m skipping supermarkets, shopping malls and super chains for the rest  of 2012. I’m doing most of my Christmas gift shopping at local markets, where there’s stall upon stall of unique, quirky, hand-made creations far superior to the run-of-the-mill, mass-produced gifts I’d find at the mall.

I recently kicked off my Christmas browsing at the Olive Tree Markets at The Junction, well known for an eclectic array of stalls. What I loved the most about these markets is that I met the makers.

I spoke to Dan of Safety Pin Design, Karla of Dandelion & Honey, Danielle of Grubby Princess and watched Juliette knitting away behind her gorgeous collection of hand-knitted beanies. I saw the spark in their eyes when they spoke about their creations. I was tempted by original paintings, hand-made children’s toys, and upcycled jewellery and have added an Ike & Fly hat and an Alie Jane shower cap to my Christmas wish list.

In among all this browsing and chatting to the creators, I bumped into friends and stopped to chat – try doing that in a shopping mall corridor! Thankfully, Newcastle is rich in markets. I’ve mapped out a game plan that will see me visit my favourite markets during the month of December. 

Today there’s Art Bazaar (9am-3pm Civic Park, Newcastle) and the Olive Tree Market ( 

Next weekend there’s Cherry Blossom Markets ( and the week after there’s Sacred Tree Markets (, which I’ve heard is well worth the trip to Branxton. And of course, I can’t forget the Newcastle City Farmers and Makers Market, which is on every Sunday. 

I’ll write more about this market next week, when I share some tips for Christmas-food shopping that sees you save money and steer clear of the supermarket.

Do you loathe shopping malls as much as I do? Where will you Christmas shop?

Tricia Hogbin writes at about learning to live better with less. Twitter: @Triciaeco

TALKING HATS:  Cheerful but functional hats by Ike & Fly.

TALKING HATS: Cheerful but functional hats by Ike & Fly.


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