Page 45 - MarketTimesDecember2015
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he said, so the family agreed to smarten it up and they are continuing to make improvements.
Whether it is the investment, or the hands-on management, something is working. And while few, if any, markets are quite what they used to be, Penkridge is blessed with plenty of footfall — and people come here to buy.
Many do their general food shopping on the market. There is a pitching butcher, fresh fish, fruit and veg and some niche food stalls.
Fruit and veg man Graham Dugmore is one of the traditional food traders, while Ben Rabbits, who sells pickles products and jams, and Holly Bennett, who sells her home baked cakes, offer something a little different.
Graham has been standing Penkridge market for 34 years. “It’s been my best market and now it is the only market we stand,” he said.
What Graham likes is the good footfall and the variety of customers who visit the market. “On Wednesdays it tends to be older people
and people who have been coming to the market for a lot of years,” he said.
“Saturdays, it tends to be younger people. People will spend in the morning but in the
afternoons you find that a lot of people are browsing and have come to the market for something to do,” Graham said.
Matt gets coaches to the market in the summer, but Graham says these visitors tend not to stop at his stall.
Niche food businesses do benefit from these types of shoppers.
Ben Rabbits, who was in the pub business for 10 years, has succeeded in building a business on the market selling the pickled products and jams he makes himself.
“It takes time to establish a new business,” said Ben, who has been at Penkridge for four years. But now he has built a good customer base and is doing well.
Similarly Holly Bennett is happy three-and-a- half years after starting Dolly Cakes on the market after she struggled to find work in graphic design, which she studied at university.
“I love baking and my nan suggested I start out on Penkridge market as she has done well on her pet stall here.”
Holly has now branched out into serving coffee and cakes, as well as selling her mouth- watering goodies.
Other traders who rate the market include Alex Shaw, who began selling rugs at Penkridge 10 years ago and now also sells pet beds.
And Alan Hoult and his wife Ann have cornered the market in second hand books and jigsaws.
Ann is an avid reader and decided to start selling second-hand books after being made redundant. One day they bought four jigsaws to sell and found they went really quickly.
“We now do a great business in books and jigsaws,” said Alan. Customers who bring their purchases back after they have read or completed them get half their money back, which has created a library-style business for Alan and Ann.
The vast majority of traders at Penkridge are upbeat. Anita Gough, who has taken over the running of her dad’s burger and refreshment van, said: “I love this market. A lot of markets are the same every day, but at this market every market day is different and the traders are like a big family.”
“A dysfunctional family,” Matt quips. But a seemingly contented one, nevertheless.
   FACTS & FIGURES
 l Market Days: Wednesdays and Saturdays. There is a craft and fine food market on the third Saturday of each month
l Market Rent: £2.50 a foot frontage with a minimum charge of £25 a day
l Penkridge’s Claim to Fame: Penkridge is a parish in south Staffordshire that has prospered thanks to its excellent transport links including rail, canal, roads and its proximity to the M6 and the motorway network. It has been a commercial and retail centre since the Middle Ages and during the industrial revolution there were iron works, quarries, sand pits and a brickworks in Penkridge and the surrounding area.
 Allan Hoult (pictured with a customer) and his wife, Ann, run a thriving market business selling books and jigsaws with an agreement that customers can get half their money back when they return them
Holly Bennett has turned her love of baking into a flourishing business on Penkridge market
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