Parkview’s Tyrone Avenue, one of my favorite suburban Joburg main streets, is a jumble of quirky shopfronts, restaurants, and arcades. There are so many closely packed establishments on Tyrone that it’s easy to walk past places without really seeing them. I’d been doing that for years with the Old Lake Market.

Outside the Old Lake Market, Parkview
The Old Lake Market on Tyrone Avenue.
The sidewalk outside the market is crammed with items for sale.

The market is actually quite a large, prominent building. It used to be a movie theatre, called the Lake Cinema, which opened in 1940. The building, which has Johannesburg heritage status, was sold in the early 1980s and turned into a furniture market.

Today the Old Lake Market has all kinds of magical shops: second-hand clothing shops (great for my new thrifting obsession), craft shops, book shops, collectible shops, and a nice-looking café that I still need to go back and try.

Last week I grabbed my camera and took a stroll through the market, chatting to a few of the shop owners.

Hallway inside the Old Lake Market
A hallway inside the market. The dark ceiling hearkens back to the building’s cinematic past.
Books for sale at the market
Books spilling into the hallway outside one of the shops.
Cafe at the Old Lake Market
The café.

A Stroll Through the Old Lake Market

Cape Cottage Furniture, the largest tenant in the market, occupies a cavernous space at the back of the building packed with wood furniture in various stages of creation and restoration. Simon Peacock presides over the organized chaos.

Simon Peacock of Cape Cottage Furniture
If Santa Claus were a furniture maker, I imagine he would look just like Simon Peacock.

Simon restores furniture and also builds new pieces using repurposed wood rescued from Oregon pine floorboards. There is a ton of nice stuff at Cape Cottage Furniture and I’ll definitely go back soon in shopping mode.

Behind Cape Cottage Furniture is a tiny room (more like a cubicle), where a man named Munya sits behind his sewing machine.

Munya at the back of the market in Parkview
Munya of Munya’s Alterations. (Both Munya and Simon took their masks off only for their photos.)

I chatted with Munya for less than five minutes and was instantly charmed. I can’t vouch for his tailoring services yet but I look forward to trying them out.

Down the hall I found the Old Limpopo Curiosity Shop, owned by book and antiquity dealer Mark Inman.

Mark Inman at the Old Limpopo Curiosity Shop
Mark in his shop, which feels more like London than Johannesburg.

Mark’s book shop, together with his antique map and print shop across the hall, is heaven for people who love old things. Mark himself seems to possess an overflowing reservoir of knowledge about everything.

Mark Inman shows me some Dickens ceramics
Mark shows me one of the items in his Charles Dickens ceramics collection. This vase portrays the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist.

I had an interesting chat with Nhlanhla Mabaso, who owns a ceramics and home decor shop in the market called Polka Holdings.

Ceramics shop in the market
Nhlanhla politely declined to be photographed, I think because she’d been running around the market doing a million things and felt a bit frazzled. But this is her lovely shop.

Nhlanhla worked as a salesperson here for several years, until the pandemic hit and the owner decided to close the business down. But Nhlanhla, who desperately needed to hold onto her job, convinced her boss to hand the shop over to her. She’s been running it herself ever since.

One of my favorite spots in the market is a gift shop right at the front. I’m not sure of the name but it belongs to a lady named Karen, who makes interesting gifts with African-print fabrics.

Karen's shop in the Old Lake Market
Karen’s shop.

I didn’t meet Karen — a friend of hers was covering for her when I went in. But the shop sells African-print picture frames, flower pots, umbrellas, notebooks, holiday ornaments, storage boxes, bunting, and everything else you can make/cover with fabric. It’s a great place to buy gifts and the shop’s proceeds go to a child and youth centre called the Guild Cottage.

I still need to go back to Old Lake to check out the clock and watch repair shop (a rare find in 2021), the beauty salon, the dance studio, and a couple more second-hand shops and clothing shops that I didn’t manage to visit last week.

The Old Lake Market — a diverse collective of entrepreneurs selling mostly repurposed goods and useful services in a quirky, historic setting — represents all the best things about this city. Go check it out.

Outside the market in Parkview
One more shot outside the market.

The Old Lake Market is at 66 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview.

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