What it’s like to run a stall on Stamford Market (during one of the wettest months on record)
After the sixth wettest July on record, August is only just about managing to redeem the summer.
For many people it has meant a damp holiday or a cancelled barbecue. But for some market traders it has meant depleted numbers of shoppers, decreased sales and takings. On several occasions this summer traders left early because there was no point standing around getting soaked for no return.
So has it left them in poor spirits? Suzanne Moon found a rare moment of Friday sunshine to ask stallholders on Stamford Market.
Carl Statton runs The Curiosity Market Stall, which is brimming with quirky homeware, including china and teapots in patterns people might remember from their pasts.
He started the stall at Bourne Market, but moved over to Stamford about four months ago, and now has a stand in Broad Street each Friday.
He finds trade brisk in Stamford, although admits July’s weather drove several of the traders to pack up early.
“We had quite a lot of stalls missing from the market over the past few weeks,” he said. “The weather has affected trade a bit - and people do not have much money at the moment.
“There don’t seem to have been the coach parties coming into Stamford that we had earlier in the year, too.
“But when we do have a some good weather people are always happy to have a browse.”
Carl sources his second-hand stock from various places, having an eye for what interests customers.
“Enamel cooking dishes are particularly popular, and the patterned tea cups and saucers do well,” he said.
“I feel I’m doing my bit by helping to recycle, finding new homes for items people can enjoy.”
Bob Steele has the cushions and towels stall at the bottom of Ironmonger Street, and said the sale of outdoor bench cushions hasn’t been so good this year.
But his ‘indoor-outdoor’ seat cushions, for kitchens, conservatories or outdoor furniture, have been doing well despite a dreary July.
“Considering we have had a bad summer we’ve sold quite a lot - although June was a better month than July,” he said.
“Saying that, people do buy cushions 52 weeks of the year.”
Jeanine Laurent drives about 60 miles from north Nottinghamshire to trade at Stamford Market, having got up at 4am most Fridays for the past three years.
Her Magenta stall offers Scandi-style home decor, hand-made floral wreaths and home fragrances - the sort of gifts and non-essential goods shoppers prefer to browse in fine weather. At the start of August she had a large ‘sale’ banner on the front of her stall.
She explained: “This year has been particularly tough because of the weather. That, compounded by the cost of living crisis, means market traders have had to work a lot harder.
“I love coming to Stamford because the people and the atmosphere are so nice. I have tried several but nothing compares to this market.
“It is also lovely that we have visitors coming into the town on coaches.”
Sarah Singlehurst, who owns New Lodge Farm in Bulwick with her husband, Simon, runs a butcher’s stall.
She said untrustworthy weather meant people might not have had many barbecues in July and early August, but they were still buying plenty of sausages and steaks, and her cooked meat pies continued to do well in all weathers.
“We have good, faithful customers who we see week in, week out,” she added.
Andrew Golding runs the Goldings of Outwell plant stall in Broad Street and said that, ironically, poor weather didn’t mean poor sales for them.
“The summer has been miserable but it helped us,” he said.
“Last year when we had forty-degree heat people stopped buying plants and flowers full stop.
“This year people have kept gardening all the way through the season.
“So although it’s not so nice standing out in the rain on a market stall, it’s not hindered us.”
Another stallholder who doesn’t mind the rain too much is Darren Crozier, who brings an ‘Evoseal’ fibreglass flat roof to the Friday and Saturday markets in Stamford. Throughout the day water streams over the roof to demonstrate the product.
“It’s been a good summer for us in that people have had plenty of opportunities to discover they have leaky flat roofs,” he said.
“But we do need better weather to be able to fit a new one.”