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Once the symbol of Freeport, the International Bazaar was founded in 1965 and in its day was sizzling with over 100 restaurants and shops from all over the world. The hurricanes of 2004 caused the Royal Oasis resort to close, and with it went the tourism at the International Bazaar. After the hurricane, only 3 stores remained.
Tired of waiting on the new owners of the Royal Oasis to reopen the resort, local business people have committed to restoring the Bazaar with an emphasis on a local audience, and recently it has had new life breathed into it, going from less than 30 shops and restaurants a year ago to 69 open today. They hope to have it once again fully occupied within a couple of years.
Currently, the Bazaar is bustling with activity, with the exception of the Spanish and French Sections. The new fish market at Goombay park is expected to bring in more local patronage. It still has a long way to go to reclaim its former glory, but the steps taken in 2010 are substantial. This is a good place to shop for Bahamian hand-made items that are actually handmade, and not made in China, and items that don't have "Bahamas" splashed all over them. Check out stores like Jubulee Bath and Body and Jenny's Jems for Authentic Bahamian Crafts. There is also the Straw Market. Prices are lower than Port Lucaya, and the selection is more authentic, if not as large.
While tourists will not yet be impressed by the International Bazaar like they once were, stop by when you are in town and do your part to support the efforts the local merchants have put in to try to rebuild. With support, the tenants Association hopes to make the International Bazaar an important attraction in Freeport once again within a couple of years.