Jonni Nicolaou's Illawarra night market a success

Jonni Nicolaou with Marie Smith, of Early Years Care, and Portors Produce stallholders Craig Roy and Trish Roy at the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant night markets. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Jonni Nicolaou with Marie Smith, of Early Years Care, and Portors Produce stallholders Craig Roy and Trish Roy at the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant night markets. Picture: GREG ELLIS

A new night market concept developed by 2014 Illawarra Business Woman of the Year runner-up Jonni Nicolaou was so successful last month that she is planning more.

The  markets  have now been run twice by the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant’s marketing manager and they have been so successful, she is  looking at doing them more than twice a year.

The Mother’s Day market ran from 5.30pm to 8.30pm and many people stayed and took  advantage of a special dinner offer to  combine shopping with dining.

It was one of the reasons Mrs Nicolaou was named Illawarra’s Innovative Business Woman of the Year recently at the Illawarra Women In Business Awards.

Mrs Nicolaou was already planning a Christmas market like she did last year but following the overwhelming response in April, she is now looking at more opportunities such as a Father’s Day market in a couple of months.

‘‘The success of our first two night markets has been incredible,’’ Mrs Nicolaou said.

‘‘I wanted to increase business on a slow night, this was a risk and out of my comfort zone.  I had never been involved in markets before or even knew how to attract people to them, but I decided to host a night market in our Lagoon Lounge Bar a few weeks before Christmas, and give people the opportunity to buy unique gifts.  I wasn’t sure of the response I’d get or if people would even come, so I did not charge stallholder fees, instead I told stallholders they had to commit to bringing three friends with them. 

‘‘We had it on a Monday night and promoted shopping with a cocktail. On a night where we’d usually get 40 people, we had more than 150 for dinner.’’

Mrs Nicolaou said the second night market for Mother’s Day was even more successful.

She thinks one of the reasons is it gives ‘‘mumpreneurs’’ an opportunity to expand their small  businesses. It has also provided opportunities for a number of charities such as the Miracle Babies Foundation, which raised $800 at the first markets.

And Debbie Reali, of Impact Art, helped the fight against breast cancer with her Mother’s Day Avon Breast Cancer Crusade stall.

The night markets are not the only new concept Mrs Nicolaou has introduced.

Her comedy nights and psychic dinners at Seacliff Function Centre have also been a success and on Friday night, she held the first of several burlesque dinner shows she has planned for this year.

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