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August 31, 2023

Gathering in store for Hahndorf

With the opening of a permanent bricks-and-mortar store in Hahndorf, Gathered Design Market fans no longer need to wait for the next market to discover their new favourite South Australian maker.

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  • Words: Elisabeth Marie
  • Photographs: Michael Mogg

It’s December of 2015, Christmas is fast approaching and Jenna O’Dell – an interior designer and wedding planner in peak event season – hasn’t found time to even consider present shopping.

She decides that if she can’t go to the stores, the stores can come to her.

“I reached out to heaps of local makers and producers through Instagram and Facebook saying I was organising a Christmas design market and asking if they would like to be vendors,” Jenna says.

So, with Christmas only days away, a bunch of vendors arrive at The Queen’s Theatre, set up their stands, spread out their merchandise and Gathered Design Market is born.

“I literally hosted a market so I could get all my Christmas shopping done in one go,” Jenna says. “In hindsight, it was so silly, but it has turned into something amazing.”

Eight years later and Gathered has become Jenna’s full-time job. “I thought Gathered was just going to be a side gig, but it took off and very quickly became all-consuming – which is good because I love it,” she says.

After her first market, Jenna began regularly holding markets at The Queen’s Theatre but quickly discovered that, due to high vendor demand, she would need a location holding more than the 60-stall capacity.

At the start of 2022, Gathered Design Market moved to the Torrens Parade Ground with its 110-vendor capacity, but Jenna found this was also a squeeze and decided it was time to look for her own location.

Jenna took on an old barn on the Hahndorf site where her first market was held and has established a bricks-and-mortar mini-market that opened last week.

The big reveal.

“Opening a store was something I was thinking about for a long time but didn’t act on until about a year ago,” Jenna says.

“Every year when I went to the Hahndorf site for the Christmas market, there was a new business. I said to the site owner last year that if it ever came up again, I would be more than interested in taking it on. About a week later he called and asked if I was serious, so of course I said yes. I was so excited, but in January he came back to tell me that the previous people passed their lease on to another cafe.

“I was devastated, however, the person who took over the lease didn’t last very long. I called the site owner again and asked if we would be able to host more frequent markets in Hahndorf and he came back saying that the shop was available permanently if I wanted it. A few days later I went to have a look at it and it all went very quickly from there.

“I got the keys on June 30 and turned it around in less than two months.”

When CityMag tours the store at 102 Mount Barker Road, it is hard to imagine the gloomy barn Jenna says it once was. Emerging through a painted-pink door, white walls contrast against soaring timber ceilings illuminated by pendant lights.

A wooden counter at the front of the store is home to a coffee machine and cake display where local food businesses offer up sweet treats and hot drinks seven days a week. Out back is an enclosed courtyard where guest distilleries and wineries work the pop-up bar on weekends – Chesterfield Whisky Firm is serving drinks for the first two weeks.

The store can host 22 vendors at a time, with makers hiring unit and rack spaces for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of six weeks to keep the stock constantly rotating.

“A lot of the vendors are regular Gathered market vendors, but we do have a few local small businesses who have also joined,” Jenna explains. “Gathered is focused solely on South Australian businesses and we are the only design market that is completely SA. That is what we have been about since day dot, and that is what we will continue to be about in-store.”

Gathered Store Hahndorf Opening

All smiles for opening night.

A unique part of Jenna’s setup is that her team staffs the store full-time, meaning makers don’t have to work in-store selling their wares.

“Similar enterprises enforce that displaying vendors must work in the store at least one day a week or something like that, and I know our vendors don’t have time to be doing that – they want to be making and doing markets and focusing on other areas of their businesses. If they had to work in the store, it is a little bit two steps forward and one step back because it would take away from the time they have for their business.”

Jenna says the store is an important step for Gathered as local makers can display in a shop without overhead risks and pressures. All profits made in-store go directly to the maker, with Jenna only taking a base rack-rent fee and cover for credit card payment fees.

“Pretty much all the vendors have an online presence, whether it is a website or social media, but to be able to be in front of their target demographic and talk to people face-to-face about their product and let customers see their products up close – that is huge for any small business.”

With the addition of a bricks-and-mortar store, Jenna is refreshing her market schedule so the Gathered Design Market line-up can go from eight annual markets to 13.

“Starting from February next year, we will host a market in Rundle Mall each month and will be doing two big design markets at the Hahndorf site – the Easter Market and the Christmas Market.

“It is going to be crazy busy, but it is going to be really good for our vendors and I am very, very excited.”

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