Siem Reap’s Made in Cambodia artisan market pitched its tents for the last time yesterday on the grounds of the Shinta Mani hotel. The market, which hosted 53 stalls, will reopen with expanded hours, events and vendors at Kings Road Angkor at the end of July.
Organisers say the market had outgrown the site at Shinta Mani and the move may be a boon for the local craft sellers, who offer a large variety of Khmer traditional handicrafts (from jewellery and fabrics to “artisan” liqueur) – often with original or contemporary designs not found at the old market.
“Shinta Mani has other plans for the land, but Kings Road is a very central location and they are very keen, hoping to make it something big,” said Christian de Boer, a former Shinta Mani general manager who headed up the initiative.
While plans have not been finalised, the relocated Made in Cambodia Market will likely remain open seven days a week, feature live demonstrations, play host to a variety of performances, and have room for a dozen additional vendors.
The decision to move the market came with a shift in management at the Shinta Mani hotel, where it opened for the first time over three years ago. It has since expanded from a once-a-month operation to a thrice-weekly one.
According to Jason Friedman, the hotel’s new general manager, there was little room for the market to grow on the hotel grounds.
“We decided that to preserve the integrity of the brand, it was time to find a new location for the market,” he explained.
Kings Road Angkor, which is located closer to Siem Reap’s town centre than Shinta Mani, offers an opportunity for new space and new customers, according to Oun Savann, the Made in Cambodia market’s manager. “Due to its enormously central location and walking distance, we hope to attract a brand new type of guest,” he said this week.
Savann added that if all follows the tentative plan, most of the market’s vendors should be open from noon to 10pm daily, compared to three days a week on the hotel grounds.
He also hopes to expand the range of traditional Khmer performance. The market’s final edition at Shinta Mani yesterday featured circus performers, songs, traditional dance and bokator.
For longstanding vendors, the change signals a new commitment to the market’s original vision. “The main point of [the market] was to provide jobs for Khmer people,” said Madeline Green, who runs a handmade jewellery business with a stall at the market, Ammo Jewellery.
“A lot of the store holders can’t afford to rent a shop in town, and it’s difficult to get a foot in the door with retailers, but they have really high standards.”
“I think it’s good for very small Khmer businesses to be recognised under such a big brand,” Green added. “And some of us have said that Kings Road, it’s lucky to have us.”
The Made in Cambodia Market will reopen at its new location, Kings Road Angkor, corner of Seven Makara and Achar Sva Street, on July 23.