Stamford market traders call for residents’ support

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Traders have called on shoppers to support their market and take advantage of great products and low prices.

Stamford town centre has been bustling in recent weeks thanks to the hot weather.

Charlotte Andrews

Charlotte Andrews

At first glance it would seem that the weekly Friday market in Ironmonger Street and Broad Street is busy with shoppers.

But according to traders, many of these are tourists who disappear when the sun goes in.

They say the key to a thriving market is support from local residents.

Charlotte Andrews, 25, sells beauty products from her stall in Broad Street.

Charlotte Andrews

Charlotte Andrews

She has only been a trader for about two months but grew up in Stamford and thinks local support for the market is dwindling.

She said: “When it’s a nice day then a lot of people are around. But it’s not as busy as it used to be.

“I was born in Stamford and have lived here all my life. Even a few years ago it was always very busy.”

Charlotte, pictured, said all market traders relied on regular customers and one of the key selling points was the relationships they were able to build up.

Tim Burrows of Sockbroker

Tim Burrows of Sockbroker

She added: “We are lucky that it’s such a beautiful town. A lot of people come on trips. But a lot of people are tourists rather than locals.

“People don’t come if they live here. They get to the High Street and don’t know what else is available.”

Stamford’s market, along with the Thursday and Saturday market in Bourne, is run by South Kesteven District Council.

Council figures show the average number of traders per week is actually on the rise in both towns. There were 73 in Stamford in 2012, up from 69 in 2010, and 17 in Bourne in 2012, up from 15 in 2010.

But there is still a sense among traders that local residents are avoiding the markets and missing out on great deals as a result.

Steve Reynolds has run a clothes stall in Broad Street for four years.

He said trade had been quiet at the moment but added: “I offer a good range of stock for all ages. And you get a personal touch. You are actually talking to the customers instead of being a number.

“I get a lot of regular customers, especially in a market like Stamford. I go to bigger markets and you don’t get the same respect from customers.”

Brian Webster has been trading as Rutland Records for 16 years. He said his stall had more of a niche audience but the same principles applied to all traders.

He added: “It’s important to have a relationship with the customers. Being on the market enables you to do that far easier than being in a larger shop.

Whatever you are selling it is the relationship that is important. Plus the fact that you don’t have to walk through a door.

“I sell a product which is primarily based on return customers. It’s good to be selling consumables or collectables. You have to look for something which the supermarkets don’t want to do.”

Tim Burrows, pictured, set up Sockbroker three years ago. He has seen his business grow year by year and puts that down to offering quality products at competitive prices.

But he added: “The more people that shop locally, the better price we can offer. We can stock more. But we need support for that to happen. You can’t have it both ways.”

And many traders pointed to Stamford itself as a reason to come and visit the market.

Ken Jackson, of Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, said: “Stamford is a lovely place with a nice feel, especially as the sun is shining. There’s a nice bustle about it and lots of people are stopping by the stall.”

Another selling point is the great range of products on offer. From Deeping St James firm The Fudge Factory to Bob Steel’s Towel King, market shoppers are spoiled for choice.

Bob, who has been running Towel King for 30 years, knows the value a market can bring to a town.

He said: “I’m Stamford born and bred, I know all the people and even the police woman comes and gives me a kiss on the cheek.

“Everyone is really friendly and I have a lot of loyal customers who come back time and time again. I like to offer service with a smile, having a laugh and joke with the customers.”

Facts and figures

Stamford’s Friday market is one of the busiest in the region, with an average of 73 traders a week in 2012.

Bourne market has an average of 17 traders a week on Thursday and Saturday.

Market Deeping’s Wednesday market is privately run under licence from the district council. Organiser Mary Hayward said in the summer it tended to have a full capacity of 18 stalls, but this dropped in the winter to a core of about 12.

In Uppingham the town council runs a market every Friday. Town clerk Susan Awcock said the market had an average of 16 traders, but that was down on previous years. She said five years ago there was a waiting list for pitches, but this was no longer the case.

Oakham’s Wednesday and Saturday markets are privately run. The Mercury was unable to get hold of the organisers.

Prices vary across the markets. A stall in Stamford costs £25.50 and £19.50 in Bourne. The council offered traders a stall for £10 in a bid to boost numbers in May. Six traders in Stamford took up the offer and two have remained as casual traders. In Uppingham a stall costs £1 per square foot and in Market Deeping a 10ft stall is £30 a month.