By Aimee Chanthadavong

Local farmers and producers of Maroochydore will be able to soon call the Big Top Farmers’ Market home when it reopens in October 2014 as part of a $20 million redevelopment.

The Big Top Farmers’ Market is expected to see more than 100 fresh food stallholders operating under one roof across 10,000 metre square on designated market days, including a Friday night artisan market. It will also continue to be anchored by a Woolworths supermarket and supported by specialty stores, including a pharmacy, newsagent, a discounter, bottle shop, an English specialty butcher, Asian grocer, cafes and hairdresser with more tenants to be confirmed.

Confirmed operator Shane Stanley, who owns the popular Noosa Farmers’ Markets, said the Big Top Farmers’ market will create opportunities and help the livelihood of local farmers and producers.

“Nowhere else on the Sunshine Coast is there an all-weather market location which boasts abundant undercover parking and central to a population of over 300,000 people,” he said.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the stallholders and they are the ones who are driving this as they want to take the market concept to a whole new level.

“The Big Top has the potential to create a real food hub for the Sunshine Coast where local farmers and producers can sell their goods direct to customers in the one undercover central location.”

Responsible for the development is Reed Property Group who regained ownership of the site in March 2013.

Stage one of Big Top’s construction has already commenced with the refurbishment of a number of retail precincts along Ocean Street. Stage two will commence in February 2014 with the replacement of the Big Top sails and is expected to be completed by mid-October 2014. A number of retailers including Woolworths, Malouf’s chemist and the Big Top Newsagency will remain open throughout the redevelopment.

Reed Property Group development director Ross Webb said he is confident Stanley will help deliver a unique shopping experience at the Big Top.

“We have no doubt that the Big Top will become a fresh food Mecca and Shane’s strong commitment to sourcing local and fresh produce is the perfect fit for what we are creating,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to hear his enthusiasm for the site and the fact that he has so many farmers and producers who are already gearing up to commence operating next year.”

According to a report by market research company Urbis, the addition of fresh food markets would significantly benefit the stallholders as well as the specialty stores and supermarket in the centre.

The report Big Top Market Fresh: Market Potential found “pairing a strong Woolworths supermarket with the farmers’ market, turnover for traditional specialty shops would be uplifted by 30 per cent compared with what is expected if the centre is only anchored by the supermarket”.