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After 31 Years, Sydney’s Iconic Glebe Markets Could Be Shutting Up Shop

“The last 30 years has been a joy…”. But after three decades at the helm of arguably Sydney’s most popular and well-known community market, organisers David and Naomi McCumstie have opened the door “for someone new to take over the market and launch it into a new era”. Just days after it was revealed that Sydney’s iconic Paddy’s Markets would be leased to Doltone House, an email sent to stallholders last week announced the 25th of February would be their last day of trading due to personal reasons.

Glebe markets closing 2

Image: Glebe Markets

As the website states: “Glebe Markets is one of Sydney’s most well-known Saturday markets with diversity, character and style.” Born from just a few stalls on the grounds of Glebe Public School, the brainchild of parents Bob and Judy McCumstie in 1992, Glebe Markets transformed into a local institution with international recognition.

“Glebe Markets has always been a small, family business; it’s not ever been one of these big markets business where they run multiple markets and put managers in them, and that’s what made Glebe Markets different”.

But like the combination of attributes that made the markets so unique, a mix of personal reasons, lease expiration, and the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic led to David’s difficult decision. “It is the end of an actual era because, at this point, our style of management will end. So, it’s a good time for everybody who has enjoyed what we brought to come in February.”

“We thought, can we do that again ourselves, and can we bear that weight, because it is a burden to take this on again, and it is lengthy,” he said.

Glebe markets closing

Image: Glebe Markets

With the door now open for new operators, David is hoping “some smart individual is going to say, ‘Yes, I’ll take the package,'” and take over operations for the brand and the website to continue to the markets as a product. Although a new owner has yet to be found at the time of writing, Jamie Parker, the member for Balmain, alongside Labor candidate for Balmain Philippa Scott, joined the chorus of sadness from the local community, stating they would do everything they could to prevent the markets from closing.

While David has flagged there might be a “gap in service” for a few weeks while a new operator is appointed, NSW Balmain MP Jamie Parker said there would be no permanent closure of the markets.

“The contract to operate the markets is due to expire in March, and the Department of Education, who owns the site at Glebe Public School, has said they have no plans to close the markets,” said Parker.

Image: Glebe Markets

Image: Glebe Markets

Whatever the case, February is likely to see the largest turnout for the markets in its history as locals, tourists and regulars flock to experience the last of the McCumstie Glebe Markets dynasty. If you’d like to add your support to the mix, a petition to safeguard the event has been started online and in person at Glebe Public School.

The Glebe Markets are held every Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm at Glebe Public School, located at the junction of Derby Place and Glebe Point Road in Glebe.