While organisers of Mandurah's longest running markets are pleading for the council to overturn recent restrictions, the council has its eye on creating a 'markets trail'.
Mandjar Markets started on the eastern foreshore 12 years ago but times have been tough after the City of Mandurah restricted its trading this season.
The weekly markets were forced to switch to fortnightly and stop selling food and drinks, except for pantry items.
Now the City wants the markets to run just monthly as part of a markets trail idea that has been flagged.
Mayor Rhys Williams said the City had researched the more successful market day models across Australia and these were usually monthly.
He said holding the markets weekly or fortnightly limited other events on the eastern foreshore.
"With stage one of City's Waterfront redevelopment currently underway, this prime commercial location is expected to become even more sought after," he said.
"If we're monthly it's not viable for us," a Mandjar Markets spokeswoman said.
"All our base operating costs such as phones, MYOB fees, licences, PO box and things like that stay the same."
Fears that Perth organisers take over
Mandjar Markets stall holders were also concerned about Perth-based operators forcing out local businesses.
"We keep everything we can local, we keep our stall fees pretty low because we're non-profit," the spokeswoman said.
"We approach clubs and businesses for sponsorships. Some of the other market organisers are private and do it for profit, they don't live in Mandurah, they have followers of stall holders in Perth that come down.
"Our stall holders wouldn't be able to afford their fees.
"We also give full refunds if markets need to be cancelled because most of our stall holders are hobby home businesses - lots of market organisers don't do that."
The spokeswoman has been selling garden ornaments from the markets for more than seven years.
Struggling Mandurah Terrace eateries
Last year the City gave the market two options - either move to Mewburn Gardens (near Woolworths central) and operate as normal - or stay on the eastern foreshore and stop selling food and drinks.
"We've been established on the eastern foreshore for 12 years - that's our trading spot - so that's the option we took," the spokeswoman said. "But we're getting a lot of complaints from people that they can't even buy a bottle of water on a hot day.
"Also, we're getting a lot of repeat visitors since COVID because we don't have international tourists and we know if we send them across the road for a coffee, they're not going to come back."
The Mail understands the decision to restrict food was made by the City to support Mandurah Terrace dining venues, who paid high overhead costs that market stallholders don't pay, and who were struggling at the time due to the outbreak of COVID.
Of course, the move was a blow to the local food businesses who had market stalls - including one whose sole income was made at the market.
The spokeswoman said making the markets COVID safe brought with it plenty of challenges and costs and to now be forced to go monthly would be a blow.
"It's cost us nearly $1100 for signage and we've had to downsize a bit because of COVID spacing restrictions," she said.
The market chairperson, together with treasurer Roger Kemp gave a deputation to the Mandurah council on Tuesday, imploring it to secure the market's location urgently and overturn restrictions.
"We can't move forward until we can secure that location," the spokeswoman said.
The Mail understands the City of Mandurah plans to advertise the market opportunities, with a panel to decide who will be the successful operators.
- Mandjar Markets are scheduled to run this Sunday and fortnightly until May 23 before breaking for the winter.