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There is a new market in town

The Cultural Market in downtown Fredericton is three months old and it’s already a happening spot every Saturday at the Cultural Centre.

The market opened Aug. 1 with 18 vendors. It now has 32 vendors with 15 on a waiting list for space.

“It’s been very successful – more so than we had anticipated,” said Dan Taylor, one of the market’s founders. “It’s clear the community has embraced this market. It was long overdue and it fills a void.”

Taylor, along with Charit Khatri and Ishaque Noory – two other founders of the market – recently sat down with the Brunswickan at the market’s Saunders Street location (the former YMCA) to discuss the market, and its growth in recent months.

Among the items sold at the market are international crafts, local delicacies and international foods.

“The idea was to provide a unique experience where the community can experience all different cultures under one roof,” said Khatri. “We’ve had food from more than 20 different countries and we have a wait list of vendors.”

Not only has the market seen more vendors since its inception, but Khatri said there has been an increase in foot traffic.

“There is definitely a need for it, and the local community embraces it,” he said. “It’s a community integration, as well, not just for immigrants. [Visitors] get to learn about different cultures and try different food, and immigrants get to meet the residents, ask questions and make this area their home.”

Khatri said another aspect of the market is that it helps encourage young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

“Before opening a restaurant, which could cost thousands of dollars in rent and inventory, here it’s a low-risk option where they can test the waters and see how their product is received,” he said. “Our hope is that, in a year or two, some vendors will open restaurants or set up food trucks to open doors for other immigrants to come try it out.”

Of the market’s four total founders, Khatri said, three of them are relatively new to Canada. He said the food was what they missed most about their respective home countries.

“Consider centres like Toronto, Montreal and Halifax,” said Khatri. “They have all these different cuisines, and it’s flourishing. We wanted to keep it cultural, so it’s not a flea market or a farmer’s market. It’s a cultural market.”

Taylor said there is also a fundraising table available for local service groups to set up free of charge and collect donations. The vendors then come together and provide the groups with a free meal.

“We want to provide the community with the best possible experience,” Khatri said. “We’ve got some of the best folks in the city when it comes to the food and products, and it has been an amazing journey.”

The Cultural Market runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday at the Cultural Centre.

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