Page 19 - MarketTimesDecember2019
P. 19

FEATURE • PAR MARKET
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 market from the day it opened, agrees. “It was so busy in the early days it was unbelievable,” he said. “Ken is a market trader in his heart and he just knew what
the public wanted.”
It helped that the market could draw on a
huge influx of tourists in the summer, many of whom stayed in nearby camp and caravan parks.
But, as Vicki Fletcher points out: “We really have the best of all worlds because the locals are very loyal to this market too. The visitors come mainly in the summer month and buy from us too.”
Vicki and her partner Martin Jenkins have run a large stall selling colourful rugs for the past 12 years.
The market continued to thrive over many years. They introduced Wednesday as a market day to attract holidaymakers looking for a midweek shopping experience and to give locals the opportunity to pick up some bargains. At one point John had a waiting list of 200 traders wanting to get on board.
Then Ken decided to step back from running the operation and a well-known private market operator took over in 2006.
Traders describe a gradual decline. There was less advertising and more emphasis on social media, and the outdoor units which used to create a buzz at the front of the market were moved inside.
Then the operator came up with a multi- million pound scheme to create a visitor attraction and fine food emporium to rival anything London has to offer.
Called Cornucopia, the vision was for a food hall promoting Cornish food and drink, an interactive food heritage centre including an opportunity to make your own Cornish pasty for £15.
For whatever reason, Cornucopia did not take off as expected and Ken stepped in to take back the lease and run the market.
John Snowball, the market manager, saw the first nuts and bolts fitted on the market 27 years ago and was asked to manage it early on by the owner, Ken Govin, whom he used to trade alongside
Harry Billinge is a D-day veteran who has collected more than £22,000 in the market for a war heroes charity
The decision was also taken to rename it Par Market.
John said: “There was 20,000 sq feet of empty space to fill and the footfall had diminished, some traders had left, but we had the old team back and we knew we could do it.”
John said Ken was the one with all the bright ideas and was prepared to dig deep to bring the market back to its best. Improvement work has included creating new units, new skylights to brighten up the place and creating the events space.
It’s a family affair, with Ken’s sons Ben and Charlie bringing their expertise, and although the family is now based in Australia they were able to liaise with John by Skype and the regeneration was soon underway.
The produce hall was empty and it is now full, John said. Long-established traders who knew Ken and John had the confidence to set up stall in the market again, and new traders have been lured in as the footfall has grown.
Unlike some, Ken and John are keen to adapt and try out new things. They are establishing an events space in the middle of the market and an events manager is in place.
And the range of stalls, the diverse lines and the experiences they are offering are pulling in the punters.
The market is now 95 per cent full with about 70 traders, many of whom have large units. The emphasis is on traditional market lines which offer value for money — everything from socks and mugs to antiques and collectibles and some quirky lines including a glass blower who creates his intricate glass items on his stall, and tarot reading.
There are several popular cafés including one run by the Thomas family specialising in scallops freshly caught by Dave who owns a trawler and sails out of nearby Fowey to catch scallops every day.
His wife Erica, who runs the café along- side daughter, Steph, and her parents-in-law Jean and Bernie, said: “We are doing nicely here selling scallop and crab dishes and home-made scones and cakes made by my mother-in-law.”
The produce hall is now full and opens every day, but there are still some spaces left for traders who want to stand a busy market where the manager and fellow traders offer support and advice, as well as friendship.
“I would love to attract a tattooist, a good toy trader, a white goods seller, more antiq- ues, some good street food such as noodles and ethnic food, a frozen food seller and an old-fashioned cobbler,” John said.
After a difficult few years, the tried and tested formula is working, with former market traders in the driving seat.
The buzz and optimism is back and traders are once more optimistic about the future.
    FACTS & FIGURES
l Market Days: Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The produce hall is open every day
l Market Rent: £8 a foot, reduced to £5 from January to March
l Par’s claim to fame: Par is a fishing village with a harbour on the south coast of Cornwall just east of St Austell. It developed in the 19th century when the harbour was in demand to serve the copper mines and mineral industry. It has a couple of beaches and is home to a large static caravan holiday park.
 Andy Brown runs the anchor meat stall in the produce hall and has been trading on the market since 1998. After a dip in trade he says the market is now firing on all cylinders and he sees a bright future ahead
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