Busy mums Kim Jefferson and Charlotte Endres give us the lowdown on the burgeoning Dubai Baby & Children’s Market
This is a great idea. Where did it come from?
Charlotte: There are baby and child markets in Australia and they’re hugely successful. There can be three or four across town every weekend and you often see people queuing out of the door. There is a real sense of community about these events.
Kim: We wanted to recreate that community market feel here in Dubai because there are so many young families here and it’s such a transient place.
How does it work exactly?
Kim: It’s all about recycling your ‘pre-loved’ goods! So basically it’s an opportunity for families to get rid of all those kids’ clothes, toys, highchairs, cots and other large items – we have a special ‘large items area’ that’s extremely popular – that are cluttering up their homes and wardrobes.
Charlotte: And to pick up some great bargains too. Mums can shop while they’re there but the challenge is not to go home with more than you brought, of course!
Kim: Parents spend an awful lot of money on their kids, so it’s a great chance to reclaim some of that cash back.
Is that why it’s so popular?
Kim: For sure, Dubai is very expensive, but at our market there’s also a chance to get something different. You have all nationalities here, so you get toys from Germany, clothes from New Zealand – there’s some really cool stuff out there.
Charlotte: And we have a lot of online stores who come to our markets. It’s an opportunity for them to meet their customers. We love bubsboutique.com, and we have Window Sox – the firm that supplies UV shades for the car – as well as Australian swimwear and Greenie Pants’ cloth nappies and accessories.
Kim: It’s an opportunity to find something you wouldn’t typically find in the malls, so it’s a great place for buying gifts because you can always find something really unique.
Charlotte: That’s right. While we welcome businesses, we don’t want anything that’s mass-produced. We’re looking for people selling kids’ items that are a bit creative or ‘boutique’, but the main point of the market is for mums who want to sell their second-hand stuff.
So is it mainly mums who come along?
Kim: There’s something for everyone, and it’s all about having a great family day out, a fun social day where mums spend a few hours catching up with other mums, and dads look after the kids!
Charlotte: There’s a coffee cart and refreshments and we have plenty of activities for the children to get involved in – face painting, gingerbread decorating etc, and Soccer Circus and Cité des Enfants from Mirdif City Centre will be there, as well as other companies who run activities for kids. It’s great exposure for them – they’ve literally got a captive market!
What do you guys get out of it?
Kim: I just love markets… having a browse, seeing what’s there, I love grabbing a bargain or seeing others grab a bargain. And after three years in Dubai, I wanted to find something to do where I could still spend time with the kids, take them to school and pick them up, and this just fits in perfectly.
Charlotte: I didn’t want to work nine to five in an office. I have a part-time job, but this was something else that I could do that would use my skills and experience in events and marketing.
Has it been difficult to get the market off the ground?
Charlotte: Well, you don’t really have community halls here in Dubai, so finding a good venue was tough. We approached schools, but it wasn’t easy. We had to present lots of proposals and think about licensing – you can’t just set up in a public place. So it’s been a challenge but we got there. At the first market at Star International School in Mirdif, we had around 17 stalls and 120 visitors. At the second, at Uptown Primary in Mirdif, there were 40 stalls and 350 visitors. So word of mouth is certainly working!
Kim: The schools weren’t really scrambling to help us out in the beginning, but we approached it from the angle of doing something in the community, something they could get involved in, that would allow them to promote themselves, let people see inside their school and also involve charities too.
Tell us more about the charitable aspect.
Charlotte: Everyone pays an entry fee at the door – it costs Dhs3 per adult to get in – and the proceeds go to charity. The school chooses the charity, and the first market we held was in aid of UNICEF, the second was for the Palestinian Children’s Fund, and the next one will be in aid of the child victims of the floods in Pakistan.
Kim: We also have a charity stall where you can donate your second-hand goods with the proceeds going to charity, and last time, a guy representing orphanages in Afghanistan took away all the leftovers that people didn’t want to take back home with them. He went off with a truck-load!
The next Dubai Baby & Children’s Market will take place at Uptown Primary in Mirdif on Friday, October 29, 9am-noon. Admission is Dhs3 per adult with all proceeds going to the child victims of the Pakistani floods, stalls cost Dhs150. Contact 050 889 2781/ 050 955 7799; firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the group on facebook.