Liberty Market – the place for the bargain and banter

A HIDDEN gem in the city is the Liberty Market, which has always been a good place to find a bargain whilst simultaneously bypassing overhead costs associated with high street stores.

The Liberty Market opened in 1973 with only half a roof, and an element of eccentricity remains key to its success today.

Liberty Market 2

On any given week, visitors can pick and choose from up to 50 vendors in the relaxed settings of a 10,000 sq ft building, with bargains to be found in everything from clothes, electrical goods, kitchen appliances, to jewellery and old-fashioned sweets.

Some of the vendors have been with the market since it started, while there is also room for vendors to rent a short-term lease in order to sell a batch of goods or to target the festive holidays.

Proprietor Michael Fitzgerald said: “When it started in 1973, it was with half a roof. Dandelion opened before us, but the market met a huge demand for ordinary people, whose only choice was places like Frawleys, Clerys and Arnotts.

“We put a new roof on the building – it was a cheap one at first, then we upgraded it, along with improving the building up to fire standards. Over the years the market has developed organically. Once you have been there the bug bites.”

 One of the reasons for the Liberty Market’s success is that vendors are not restricted by high tax rates, and can pass on savings to customers.

“In a shop you have rent, rates, you have to pay for security, staff, bills, pilferage, dishonest staff, all the overheads. Here everything is shared by the vendors, all the bills and insurance and security is divided, making it much more manageable.

“Shirts which cost €8 to make in a sweatshop, and sell for €89 in top end stores, can be bought here two for €25. Most shops are getting the shirts from the same Far East sweatshop.”

Another unique aspect of the Liberty Market is a sense of camaraderie amongst vendors and customers.

Mr Fitzgerald continued: “One of our vendors Harry Armstrong (96) was with us from the start, and sold his shoes here and drove his van up until the day he died last year. I have also seen women come here, then bring their daughters and then bring their grandchildren, the three generations.

“Comedian Sil Fox and singer Imelda May are regulars – there is great banter between the vendors and customers. The place is packed with friendly atmosphere. We sell everything here except cars.”

The Liberty Market is open Thursdays/Fridays 10am to 4pm and Saturdays 10am to 5pm.

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