THERE was a gaping hole in Newcastle's art scene when The Olive Tree Market first started to take shape half a decade ago.
Emerging artists had little scope to sell their wares without committing to a gallery for weeks or forking out for their own website.
The Olive Tree Market co-founders Justine Gaudry and sisters Bec Thomson and Alison Buchanan had either recently returned to Newcastle after a long stint away, or moved to the area for the first time when their idea started to blossom.
"Newcastle didn't have a dedicated art and design market," Ms Gaudry said.
She said Newcastle was known for its sport but needed to branch out.
The trio approached The Junction Public School with a business plan similar to Sydney markets in Glebe Paddington, and Rozelle.
The school playground enticed families, while also guaranteeing a vacant space every weekend.
"We were going to set it up as a business, but then we set it up as a school fund-raiser for the first year," Ms Gaudry said.
The Olive Tree Market raised $16,000 for The Junction Public School in its first 12 months, surpassing their expectations.
Now a business, The Olive Tree Market is still the major fund-raising activity for the school.
Its founders split up a few years ago when the two sisters decided to follow their dream to start up their own cafe, One Penny Black, in the Hunter Street Mall.
Ms Gaudry runs the market on her own, which she says is a full-on job.
She said strict rules on the types of wares being sold was the main reason for the market's success.
"We have people [market goers] consistently coming up from Sydney now."
■ The 5th anniversary for The Olive Tree Markets will be held this Saturday, October 5 at The Junction Public School.