It is with a heavy heart that I have had to close the Hermanus Country Market with immediate effect. The stark reality is that the market is no longer sustainable.
The reasons for this are:
- During the first lockdown period from March to August the costs remained constant, with no income and no reductions in rental, insurance, etc. except for electricity usage.
- Since August, when we were permitted to resume trading under lockdown level 2, the income has not covered the market’s expenses. Due to Covid-19 there was a reduction in trade and the market has been running at a loss since then, with the exception of October.
- The structures on the market are non-compliant with Building Regulations and will need an estimated R500 000 to upgrade. There has been constant pressure from the Overstrand Municipality for the past year, but with no clear solution to the market’s situation.
- It has cost R25 000 to produce architectural plans, R10 000 to strengthen the existing structures and a further R8 300 to be Covid-compliant.
- It is foolhardy to be pouring in this sort of constant investment, with the short-term lease and uncertainty of tenure that prevents me from ever selling the market as a going concern to recover these costs.
- There is no definite alternative site to move the market to so as to create sustainability for the future.
So on the advice of learned people, I have had no choice but to close the market with immediate effect.
The average turnover on the market was reduced by almost 70%, mostly due to our swallows and tourists not being here. Covid has also required that the market try and create an environment which is the direct opposite of what we have always been – a place where many people can gather together, hug and socialise – and this has come at enormous cost.
We are all aware that Covid has been brutal for many hospitality and tourism businesses, and three weeks ago I would never have thought that the market would have to close and become one of those statistics. But the stark reality is that I am just not able to sustain the costs and absorb the loss any longer, especially with Covid looming over us for the foreseeable future.
I have also exhausted all my strength in the constant battles over the last nine years with minimal leases, the threat of a bypass road, and constantly being told to move into the path of the bypass road just to make way for a parking lot. I have fought long and hard to keep the market where it is, as it is, and I can honestly say that I am now done with this fight.
My sincere and humble apologies for the upset and difficulties this closure will cause my traders, and I can only hope that there will be someone out there who will have the means to open another market so that they may all continue to trade.
With grateful thanks to everyone who has been a part of our market family and for making it that very special place within our community. Thank you for your loyalty, your good cheer, your smiles and laughter and your beautiful products which you all made with such love.
It has been a privilege to have had you trade on the market, and I appreciate your support over the past 14 years.
May you all be blessed with abundance.
– Liza van Coppenhagen
Since the above announcement, a group of concerned residents has protested vehemently on social media against the closure of the Hermanus Country Market, calling it “a space dedicated to local trade, artisans and tourism in the greater Overberg area”, with 200 people depending on it for their livelihood. “The Hermanus Country Market is loved by all who have dedicated their precious time come sun, wind and rain as traders, local supporters and visitors. All our thoughts and wishes should go to Liza, who has created this amazing venue for our community, against such great odds, for so long.”
According to the group, they will be setting up urgent meetings with the relevant stakeholders and report back to the community about the future of “our beloved market”.
Ward 3 Councillor Kari Brice has also responded to the news: “The closing of the Hermanus Country Market is not an option. I am continuing with my efforts to ensure that trading may continue from the present position in an economically viable manner.”
A meeting with various stakeholders was held on Monday afternoon. – Ed