THE organisers of the Little Penang Street Market couldn’t have picked a better day for the launch of the monthly showcase of Malaysian arts, crafts and culture.
The bright and breezy morning ensured that visitors, both local and tourists, turned up in force to look for bargains even before the showcase was launched by Penang Bumiputra Tourism Committee chairman Muhammad Farid Saad recently.
A group of women from the Penang State Chinese Assembly made the event more colourful by dressing in traditional nyonya baju panjang (long dress) with their hair done up in buns.
With more than 60 vendors taking part, there was something for everyone. As visitors browsed through the myriad of products on offer, they were kept entertained by a number of different artistes who belted out popular songs on stage throughout the day.
Little Penang Street Market is held at Upper Penang Road from 10am to 8pm on the last Sunday of the month from July 30. It is aimed at revitalising traditional trades and ethnic crafts and to provide a regular market place and platform for Penang-based talents in arts, crafts, design and music.
Stallholders came from different walks of life, with all manner of locally made products on sale, from homemade organic herbal remedies to costume jewellery, stained glass and ceramics, and beaded shoes. They had travelled from as far as Sauk and Ipoh in Perak and Sungai Petani in Kedah.
They all participated for different reasons; some have their own outlets but wanted more exposure like Cecilia Lim who owns Country Fair Boutique in Prangin Mall.
“I was inundated,” she exclaimed joyfully, “and I will definitely be here again next month.”
B Home Decor of One Stop Centre in Pulau Tikus was there to market its custom-made handpainted tiles while Jerry Lim of Island Stained Glass in Ayer Itam brought along samples of his ware.
For others like designers Fion Chan and Ong Yee Chiun of BIG Beads in Bag, the market was an ideal way to display and sell their handmade costume jewellery.
“Everything you see here were designed by us, and specially made for today,” Chan declared proudly. Response to their necklaces, bracelets and earrings was so good that they felt the market should be held weekly.
Lucille Dass and Joelle St Arnoult joined forces to sell their goods – Dass her desktop inspirational calendars which has a motivating message for every day of the year, and St Arnoult her hand-painted items and T-shirts.
“I sold quite a lot of T-shirts and we got a few enquiries from interested parties. It has definitely been worth it,” St Arnoult declared.
“We have covered our costs and more,” added Dass.
Some stallholders drew crowds by demonstrating their skills, like Jeff Tang who makes miniature figures from dough. A former chef, he diversified from food carving and learnt the art from a Chinese master in Singapore. He now teaches his own classes as well as accepts orders from customers.
Penang Prison also had a stall which sold handicraft produced by prisoners who have undergone training to learn a new skill.
Mohd Jufry Yusoff enthralled visitors to his stand by demonstrating the painstaking expertise required to carve traditional wayang kulit (shadow play) characters out of cured goatskin. He started his apprenticeship with his grandfather at age six, and now lectures on the art as part of a Drama and Theatre course at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
Traditional medical practitioner Sao’diah Wahidin of Kak Sa’s Home Remedies was there to sell oil and tablets which she made from neem trees grown in her own garden.
Children also enjoyed the occasion as they had hands-on painting and colouring activities organised by The Learning Garden while roving clowns kept them amused with balloon art and continuous patter.
No market in Penang is complete without food, and there were stalls selling Penang delights to take home and enjoy like acar, nasi ulam, kueh and chutneys.
“It will be good for everyone as it is a means of revitalising Upper Penang Road,” said restaurateur Kim, who owns Opera, one of the many outlets offering a diverse range of food at the entertainment enclave.
Little Penang Street Market is a non-profit project coordinated by Lestari Heritage Network with a grant from the New York-based Institute for Cultural Enterprise which was founded in 2000 by the Ford Foundation to support cultural entrepreneurship around the world.
Penang Tourism supported the event by providing funds, publicity and the leaflets. There was sponsorship from The Garage, Upper Penang Road Promotional Society, Boon Siew Sdn Bhd and the E & O Hotel.
Lestari Heritage Network chairman Khoo Salma Nasution said: “Overall feedback was very positive as most of the vendors did well.”
Unusual high winds in early evening brought the day to a slightly earlier close than anticipated.
If you are interested in having a stall at the Little Penang Street Market or for more details of the event, log on to www.lestariheritage.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org.