Page 26 - MarketTimesApril2016
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When fifth generation fruit and veg Thame Market to see for himself. a good market.” Mike’s family hails from
The upshot was that Colin agreed with Mike, but instead of offering him a pitch on the Saturday market, he suggested that he start a new Wednesday market from scratch.
Never one to duck a challenge, Mike decided to go for it. And the new Wednesday market was launched with a full set of stalls in September 2012.
“It took time and inevitably it ruffled a few feathers,” said Mike.
Berkhamsted is an attractive, affluent small town with a traditional High Street where the market sets up stall outside smart, mainly independent shops, restaurants and bistros as well as upmarket retailers including Waitrose and M&S.
“Some of the retailers were against having market stalls outside their shops,” said Mike. But they soon changed their mind when they saw the quality of the stalls and the additional footfall generated by the market.
Mike said: “As a trader, I know what makes
trader Mike Smith was turned down
for a pitch on Berkhamsted’s Saturday market because there was no room, he vowed not to take the rejection lying down.
“I looked at the quality of some of the stalls on the market and compared them to mine,” said Mike, whose stall is a colourful work of art, and whose entire family work 19-hour market days and always serve customers with a smile.
Mike took some photos of his busy stall at Thame market in Oxfordshire and sent them to Colin Witt, the chairman of Berkhamsted Town Hall Trust, which runs the market.
Although it’s an ancient market pre-dating its charter granted by Henry lll in 1217, Dacorum Borough Council handed over the charter to the trust in the 1970s.
The trustees are non-paid volunteers and any profits from the market go back to the town.
Colin was impressed by the images from Thame and by Mike’s arguments, so he visited
Ryan Brown’s artisan bread, pastries and patisseries go down a storm in upmarket Berkhamsted
Aylesbury and have been fruit and veg traders going back decades.
“In a town like this the market needed to feature quality food stalls and craft-type products. There is no place for tacky products that are better on a car boot,” he said.
With so many friends and contacts in market trading, Mike had no problem finding the right market businesses for his new market.
And he took on the task of vetting potential stalls to make sure they reached his high standards. Among those who passed the test was Brown Bread, the artisan bread company run by Steve Brown, which stands foodie markets in the south east including Enfield and Saffron Waldon.
Ryan, Steve’s son, said: “We stand Thame market so we know Mike from there. When Mike asked us to join him on a new Wednesday market we were happy to give it a go and I have been here for the past four years.”
  Mike Smith is a fifth generation fruit and veg man whose business so impressed the trust responsible for Berkhamsted market that they asked him to run the market. He is pictured with his wife, Emy, and their children, Michael, five, Emily, four and Alfie, eight months
Ronnie Derbidge does well on Berkhamsted market selling plants and flowers

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