Visitors in Nassau can now explore Bahamian culture in the new $12 million Straw and Craft Market. Set to officially open its doors today, the new Bay Street establishment will house more than 450 vendors, making it easy for visitors to bring pieces of authentic island crafts home.
Designed by Patrick Rahming & Associates, the market contains two sections allowing for hundreds of vendors. The 37,000-square-foot ground level space not only showcases straw vendors, but accommodates 34 specialty booths designed to encourage experiences such as authentic Bahamian music, dance and fashion. Shoppers can also enjoy ATM access, public washrooms and wireless technology for the processing of credit card sales.
Straw work has been an important element of the Bahamian economy since 1720. Straw plaiting techniques, styles and materials vary from island to island, but the Nassau market allows visitors to see many styles in one place. Local artisans will offer everything from handmade hats, mats and bags to woodcarving, baskets and even local guava jellies.
Due to the straw market fires in 1974 and 2001, extensive fire safety measures have been taken for vendors and tourists protection at the new venue including a sprinkler system with on-site water storage and fire hoses. There is also a full-service generator for use in case of emergency.