Traders defend Markets

• Mandy Richardson and Chris Bignell from Shoe Shu say the Fremantle Markets management are being unfairly portrayed. Photo by Steve Grant.

A GROUP of traders have hit back at criticism of the management at Fremantle Markets, saying they’re being unfairly portrayed.

The Murdoch family has been under pressure after giving a popular doughnut vendor his marching orders and stories revealing they continued to increase rents despite Freo’s faltering economy (the West Australian went as far as likening the markets to “a Russian dictatorship”).

But Mandy Richardson from Shoe Shu has been a stallholder at the markets for more than seven years and says it’s a great place to work and the Murdochs have a thankless task.

“With more than 150 traders to manage, you’re never going to please everyone and someone has to be the ruler saying ‘clean up your stall’ or ‘you need to update your signage’,” Ms Richardson said.

“I’ve never experienced any bullying; I’ve got a good relationship with the managers and always find them accommodating and friendly.

“The Fremantle Markets has provided us with amazing brand exposure…we now have more than 500 boutiques [wholesale stockists] around Australia and New Zealand.”

Lease

Phillip Dawson has been at the markets for more than 35 years after first wandering in as a tourist and says he’s happy not to have been on a lease.

“After 35 years on a monthly trading license and no lease, I am still happy to be trading and be part of the Fremantle Markets,” Mr Dawson said.

Ms Richardson said she’d heard little clamour for long-term leases or a stallholders’ association from other traders.

“Why would I want someone else to make decisions on my behalf – I wouldn’t really want that,” Ms Richardson said.

The Fremantle Society has also joined the debate about the Markets, with president John Dowson saying the issue was “another one of those nightmares which I wish would go away”.

Mr Dowson wants Fremantle council to step in to help stallholders such as Doughnut vendor Levi Holden who’d been evicted from the Markets, though mayor Brad Pettitt has publicly stated he’s “satisfied” with the Murdoch’s management.

Mr Dowson said when he tried to raise the issue on Facebook site Freo Massive he was “howled down” and the post removed. He says the site is acting like “a cheer squad for the council”.

by STEVE GRANT

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