A marketing platform in the dark that lights sales for small businesses

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A wine farm in the Noordhoek Valley in Cape Town was not well known for its wine brands. Breaking into a market with wine labels boasting heritages of up to 250 years in the Cape is not a walk in the vineyard for new, up and coming wine makers.

So over the past few months the wine farm has been holding a night market from 16:30 to 20:30 on Thursdays. Now wine sales have climbed as more and more people get exposed to the farmer’s wines.

I’m not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination but the Cabernet I chose had a distinct oak barrel and fruity berry test that was superb compared to any of the varieties from Stellenbosch, Constantia and Franshoek.

But this story is not just about the wine.

The evening market showcases a coterie of food and beverage small businesses selling everything from handcrafted beers, cheeses, and bread to Cape curries, seared tuna steaks and Mexican food prepared by a Mexican national. Space has even been made for a local flower seller whose mum worked on the Cape Flower Market, the oldest flower market in South Africa, dating back 200 years, in Adderley Street.

As the sun glided into the Atlantic Ocean, the night food market against the mountain side at Noordhoek was alive with people, cars were parked all alongside the Vineyard Road and even further back against the mountain side. Children had fun, running around with coloured flashlights, laughter exploded from tables as groups of friends enjoyed themselves.

The queues for food, especially the long queue for home-made sweets, cakes and chocolates, were a bit tiresome for the hungry and impatient. But the business among the small traders was brisk.

This is not only a victory for wine sales but a huge thumbs up for small business people which make up such an important part of our local communities.

Home-based businesses may get little support from local chambers of business, community newspapers and even online classified sites but here the small business is given the leg up that they so desperately need. Traders I spoke to said enquiries and aftermarket sales have soared.

Night markets, inner-city food markets and country craft markets are adding vibrancy and a source of entertainment outside the shopping malls to help small kitchen-table and home-based businesses.

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