Page 44 - MarketTimesDecember2019
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decision as the greatest flow of footfall is across the car park between Morrison’s and Tesco’s.
Surprisingly the market seems to do well between the two supermarkets, and traders say they complement each other.
Coun Doyle says the market has stood the test of time and its traditional offer is just what the locals want.
It’s a small market but all the food staples are there alongside a range of traditional lines. There is an excellent cheese business that has a full range, including many local ones.
Fruit and veg man Stephen Moyes has been on the market for 30 years and his father, Neville, ran the business for 25 years before that.
“We have a very loyal following here and people like our fresh fruit and veg, most of which is local. You can taste the freshness and people can tell a big difference bet- ween our produce and the supermarket stuff which is stored before it is sold,” he said.
He says the market is in the right place — where the best footfall is.
And other traders agree. Russell’s family butchers is the place to buy fresh meat. Jess Russell said all the meat is from the farm run by her mum and dad, Sue and Paul Russell, in nearby Upwell.
“It’s a family business — my brother works for it too. We have a shop at the farm and we sell at local markets including this one,” she said.
There is a fresh fish stall, a bread and bakery stall selling baked goods made in a bakery in town, and a friendly and very
popular catering van called J’s Snacks run by Jen Goodbody.
Jen said: “I have been coming to this market for the past 16 years. I don’t do any other markets but I am here every Friday and Saturday and I also do a local auction.”
The market has plenty of non-food lines, the bulk of them sold by the Leach family including brother and sister Tony and Belinda Leach who sell pet food, sweets, cards and garden ornaments and Tony’s son James who sells tools and car accessories.
Belinda and Tony’s father, John, started the market business 35 years ago and the family have followed in his footsteps.
Belinda said: “The way people shop has changed a lot in recent years but people in this town still support their market and it is very friendly.”
Their loyalty is repaid by the traders, according to John Doyle, who cites the time when the post office shut for some time and older people struggled to get their pensions.
“One old lady was very short of money so the traders had a whip round and made sure she could get the food she needed,” he said.
Perhaps the most eye-catching business on the market is the large plant business run by Netty English. A seed analyst by profession, Netty decided to rethink her career after she was made redundant for the second time.
“I started selling plants on car boots and I now do well on markets like this,” she
FEATURE • DOWNHAM said. “I have been coming here for at least
12 years. It’s a lovely, friendly, country market. Customers arrive by bus on Fridays and it tends to be slightly different customers on Saturday.”
Elaine Oliver, who has recently taken over as town clerk, said there was a lot of growth in Downham Market, mainly because it is on the main line and within commuting distance of London as people move further out from Cambridge for more affordable housing.
“It tends to be locals and older people on a Friday, whereas people who are at work during the week and families shop at the market on Saturdays,” she said.
Elaine is keen to support the market and build on its success. “It is absolutely the heart of Downham Market and the town council is keen to support it as much as
it can.”
She said the town launched its own music
festival this year, Downham Live, and any musicians or street theatre would be welcome on market days.
“Anything we can do to create a buzz will help the market,” Elaine said. “We have charity coffee mornings in the town hall on Fridays and if we can put on something on the town square, there is then a natural flow through to the market.”
But there are no plans for major changes. The market will remain a traditional country market where people can get fresh local produce and everything they could want, from watch repairs to car access- ories, because that’s the way the local community wants it.
Netty English has been selling plants on the market for the past 12 years
   Stephen Moyes runs the family fruit and veg Neville, 55 years ago. He is pictured with his
business on the market started by his father, wife, Betty, and her dad, Edward Harvey
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