New Brunswick

Renovations force Cultural Market in Fredericton to seek new home

Salam Mahboob wakes up every Saturday at 4 a.m. to start cooking traditional dishes for his weekly customers at the Cultural Market in Fredericton.

Market has been held every Saturday at the Cultural Centre on Saunders Street since 2015

Salam Mahboob is the owner of Dolma Delight, a vendor at the Cultural Market in Fredericton. He is hopeful his customers will follow him to a new market location in 2020. (Facebook)

Salam Mahboob wakes up every Saturday at 4 a.m. to start cooking traditional dishes for his weekly customers at the Cultural Market in Fredericton.

But over the past few days, he's been grappling with news that the market is being forced to relocate because of renovations to the Cultural Centre on Saunders Street. The market is held there every Saturday, and those renovations are expected to last up to six months.

"It's not easy for me because I depend [on] this market," Mahboob said. "I started with this market for five years." 

Mahboob is originally from Iraq and sells a variety of food through his business, Dolma Delight. He sells fish, beef and chicken dishes, as well as salads. 

The Cultural Market in Fredericton will have to find a new place before December, and vendors are worried this will mean fewer clients and higher fees. 0:59

The father of four, who is from Iraq,  moved to Fredericton in 2012. The market promotes local tourism and helps newcomers and Canadians connect with one another.

"That is very important — more than the business," he said.

Although Mahboob was saddened by the move, he has always received a lot of support from his customers — and the relocation of his business will be no exception. 

"I am strong because the Canadian people like my food."

Some of the food available at the Cultural Market. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Dan Taylor, who manages the Cultural Market, found out about the renovations at the beginning of October.

He said the market will remain at the Cultural Centre until the end of the year. This could possibly be extended, if organizers don't find another location before then.  

A new place to call home

Organizers hope the next home will be permanent, but will consider a temporary home if necessary.

They've looked at a few locations in the city but nothing has been confirmed. They need a space with freezers, coolers, cooking appliances — preferably in the downtown.

About 20 vendors will be affected by the change. Taylor spoke with some of them over the weekend and said many of them are nervous.

"The biggest concern was the fact that they had to move," he said. 

"They all understand when a business moves, there is the logistics nightmare of trying to communicate that to your customers that are coming through the door. Moving multiple times becomes even more of a nightmare."

A pricey move 

The move also comes at a cost.

Market organizers try to keep vendor fees low to help newcomers set up their businesses.

Mahboob said many vendors have families and depend on the income they make at the Cultural Market. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Right now, the vendor fee is $40 to $50, but the price may have to be bumped up, depending on the cost of the new location.

"Some of those vendors that we have depend on that revenue that they receive to pay bills and rent. And we don't want to see any vendor go through a hardship and increase those vendor fees."

A change in location would also mean new costs for signs and changes to business websites to keep the public informed.

Customers also affected

The Cultural Market opened in 2015. Since then, some of the original vendors have changed locations or started their own businesses elsewhere. 

About 20 vendors set up each week at the Cultural Market. (CBC)

Up to 1,000 people visit the market each Saturday. Taylor is adamant it won't close, and he's hopeful customers will continue coming once the market moves.

"It also hurts the customers who come into the market, because it creates confusion," he said. 

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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