Cape Town’s beloved market, The Bay Harbour Market is celebrating 11 years of bringing together entertainment, shopping, food and great company this July.
The idea for the Bay Harbour Market was born after a chance meeting back in September 2009 when then-strangers Paul Rutzen and Anthony Stroebel ran into each other at a visit to the old Sea Harvest fish factory in Hangberg. At the time, the building was completely derelict in an area that was considered less than savoury, but Anthony admits there was an energy to the place that neither could ignore.
“You could say it was the universe at work,” says co-founder Anthony. “We both realised that this space would serve as the perfect platform from which to begin to uplift the area and the community while celebrating the vibrancy and creativity that is so unique to South Africa, Cape Town and, especially, Hout Bay.” They were right, of course.
And so, on a wet and blustery day in July 2010 in the midst of football fever, the two opened the doors to 3,000 visitors and thereby created a unique social shopping and eating experience in an atmosphere that was friendly, vibrant, entertaining and, above all, distinctly South African! “Our vision has always been to make Bay Harbour Market a guaranteed destination on the itinerary of South African and international tourists when visiting Cape Town; not to mention to create a regular social and shopping excursion for Capetonians,” says Fiona Lunt, Finance and Operations Manager of Bay Harbour Market. “This is all underpinned by a network of job creation activities coming from the artistic endeavour from this cultural environment.”
When the market opened 11 years ago, Anthony and Paul did it with the explicit purpose that the market would become a catalyst for an opportunity in the area in the form of job creation, the development of micro-enterprise, the upgrading of the area, and subsequently elevating the tourism credentials of Hout Bay which would further support economic development for all. And, since that cold winter’s day in 2010, it has undeniably achieved all of those things and more.
As the first of its kind in Cape Town, over the past 11 years, Bay Harbour Market has seen its influence in the local market scene. “At the time, it was a new concept that brought with it an awareness that people were looking for a unique shopping, eating and entertainment experience – all under one roof,” says Fiona. Today, they are proud to have become a guiding light to more concepts like it, though, she admits, a common refrain from local and international tourists is “We have nothing like this where we live”.
Apart from the world-class retail, arts and craft and food offerings, the market has become a massive destination in Cape Town for those looking for fun, entertaining events and live music. “Our patrons love our wine and gin tastings, drag shows and open mics nights,” Fiona explains. “We have also partnered with community-based organisations and NGOs for awareness days, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as well as environmental clean-up projects for the surrounding area and we’re actively involved in supporting local Hout Bay charity events like the Intle Art Youth Project Rainbow Walkway.”
Today, even after 11 years as one of Cape Town’s most beloved markets, the Bay Harbour Market is still high on the list of things to do when a Hout Bay resident receives an out-of-town visitor, one of the go-to destinations for tour guides or when locals want to take part in events within the Hout Bay community.
And the fact that the market was able to keep its doors open throughout the pandemic is a testament to the loyal support it receives from its patrons, traders, staff and service providers. “We are forever grateful,” adds Fiona. “These 11 years could have only been possible because of all of them and it showed us what we are capable of when we work together supporting each other.”
And, it’s just getting started with the forecast for 2022 looking bright. Fiona says the numbers of visitors have been steadily increasing since the start of the year and the market has excitedly been welcoming back overseas guests.
And, visitors can follow Bay Harbour Market on social media and visit the website for more information on upcoming events like their fabulous wine and gin tastings, as well as upcoming Drag Act shows, live music and Open Mic nights.
Here’s to another 11 years of South African creativity, culture and kos – all under one roof!
Celebrate with the market while supporting SMEs and local tourism by visiting on Friday from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday & Sunday from 9.30am to 4pm.