Time Out talked to Daniele Constance who, along with Isabel FitzGerald, is behind this Brisbane success story.
How did you come up with the idea for Suitcase Rummage, Daniele?
Just over two years ago now, Isabel and I were brainstorming various project ideas that we wanted to try and get off the ground. We had just finished working on a local arts festival together, so we had gathered some momentum and were looking for ways to put 'arts and culture' on Brisbane's map (so to speak!). We took a few ideas, Suitcase Rummage being one of them, to Brisbane City Council. They had an event coming up as a part of National Youth Week and thought Suitcase Rummage might be a good fit. We jumped at the opportunity and of course, that's where it all started...
We were hoping to get 20 or 30 suitcase stalls to our first market, and instead were greeted with over 60!
There was such a demand for it that Brisbane City Council offered to support us to deliver the event regularly, with the aim of becoming a sustainable community event. Suitcase Rummage in Brisbane now boasts 150 stalls at each event. We certainly never expected our little idea to take off like it has.
Your mantra is ‘start selling like your grandma’. What’s Nan got to do with it?
It was just one of those silly ideas, a line that sounded good when we first put it altogether and then it kind of stuck! I think it stemmed from the idea of collecting old things, old treasures. I have great memories of my nana having the most amazing collections of antique and retro jewellery, belts, hats and she was a seamstress. So, I suppose, we were hoping to have people bringing their little odds and ends, little treasures, packed into suitcases and on display... and I think we had ideas that grandmas are really good bargainers, I think that had something to do with it too!
Why did you pick Melbourne for your first interstate Suitcase Rummage?
We've done a few Rummage's around town here in Brisbane, a few on the Gold Coast, Ipswich ... we've been wanting to try and set it up in another city and we both have a few connections in Melbourne, so it seemed like the right fit. Our wonderful designer Belinda Suzette also resides in Melbourne, so it's been a great help having someone involved who lives in the city.
Will you be doing any rummaging of Melbourne’s stores yourself while you’re visiting?
Of course! I did some study in Melbourne the last two years (a course by correspondence of sorts), so I have a few favourite little places to go ... Dear Gladys, Retro Star, Savers, I Dream a Highway, Polyster Records... To be honest, I don't think I've strayed far from High St, Smith St and Brunswick St... maybe I should make a point of that when I'm in town next....!
I also love visiting Melbourne for the food, so looking forward to rummaging through menus as well.
What makes Suitcase Rummage different from an average weekend market or antiques fair?
Firstly, it's a market out of suitcases – and only suitcases! We've also tried to make it as accessible as possible for people from all walks of life to attend and run a stall. It's low cost, we cover the insurance, we don't allow racks, tables or tents – people set up and sell straight from their suitcases. It's also because of this, we get a really diverse crowd attending and selling. We've had people find (and buy) cow suits, retro chicken kettles, felted organ jewellery, hand crafted wood wares, vintage velvet capes, Tsubi overalls (for $5!!). So it's usually a bit of a giant lucky dip every time.
We also only allow handmade or second hand products to be sold, so no mass produced or imported items, we're pretty strict on that. In Brisbane, there's quite a large community and following around it as well. Which is really lovely to see.
Check out the Suitcase Rummage website for more information on how to register a stall for $25.