When Natalie Humphrey decided to set up a market for mums to buy and sell pre-loved baby booty, she had no idea how popular it would become. She tells us how it all started.
Where did your idea for Baby Bazaar come from?
Flea markets are not a new concept in London, where I’m from, so you could say the idea is borrowed from Europe! There are so many fabulous second-hand markets in England and the charity shops have such a good stock of kid’s items that I buy my son Riley, toys and clothes from there every time I go back in the summer.
How long did it take for your idea to become a reality?
Not long at all! I was lucky enough to get a yes from the first venue I approached - which is Times Square Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road. Baby Bazaar market days bring foot traffic to the mall and it’s a central location that offers everything from Caribou coffee to Al Manama supermarket so it’s win-win for everyone. I realised that this kind of market was very much in need when my son was 3 months, especially when I figured out just how much I was spending in mothercare and just kidding! I have no problem with buying things second-hand because I feel so passionately about reducing waste in our lives.
Do you do it all on your own?
I do a lot of it on my own but my husband Chris is my online guru! He built the website and the whole back-end of the business which are utterly invaluable to a business that requires remembering hundreds of names.
How did the first Baby Bazaar go?
The first market went so much better than I had expected - I think I was a little overwhelmed when people started pouring in half an hour early. All of the sellers at the market days are so lovely and at the first market they were just all so happy to be there selling on a load of items that were sitting around in their cupboards and living rooms cluttering extra space. There is always such a great atmosphere at Baby Bazaar - partly because the mums are making some extra money from things they would have given away and partly because they have a few hours away from the kids!
Why do you think it has become so popular?
I like to think that people realise the importance of recycling more now than they did ten years ago. I can’t even begin to comprehend how much waste we produce in our lives and I believe second-hand markets like Baby Bazaar play an integral role in reducing and recycling. There is nothing more satisfying than selling your much loved baby clothes and toys (that actually hold quite a lot of sentimental value) to another mum. A lot of the mums comment on how their buggy or big ticket item went to a really lovely mum. They always leave happy knowing it’s gone to a good home! I quite like that.
How do you make sure what’s on offer is of a certain quality?
I personally go around the market and look at what is being sold at each table at the beginning and throughout the market. If there are things like used bottles/teats being sold I will ask them politely to remove them due to hygiene concerns. Of course, there will be some things that slip through the net but I do make it quite clear on the website and when people book a table that Baby Bazaar is a market for quality pre-loved baby and toddler items.
Where would you like to see it go over the next few years?
I would like Baby Bazaar to continue for as long as there is a need for it. We already have a handful of mummy/baby related businesses selling new products or hand-made items at the market days but I would perhaps like to get some more mummy support groups involved - resources such as breastfeeding support groups etc. I would like it to continue to be a market where mums come to have a morning out, meet other mums and have a coffee with friends while the kids have their face painted - and pick up some great deals of course!
How can people get involved with Baby Bazaar?
It’s very easy. If mums are interested in selling some items then they can book their table online or they can contact me and I can do it for them. It’s a free event so even if people just come for a look around and have a coffee then that’s fine too - although I don’t think anyone has ever left empty handed!
Visit www.babybazaar.org for more