Page 13 - Market Times June 2021
P. 13

guns in Guildford
Guildford’s North Street Market is run by the borough council with the lightest of touches — and that’s just how the traders and their customers like it. Nicola Gould reports on a thriving Surrey market as rich in quality lines as it is in colourful characters
Amarket that grew from local peo- ple selling their surplus veg grown to meet the dire shortage of food after the First World War is now a century- old success story in up-market Guildford.
Around 20 traders set up stall on the town’s North Street, which runs parallel to the High Street, every Friday and Saturday, with fruit and veg and flowers the mainstay, as they have been for its entire history going back to August 1919.
And despite the ravages of the pandemic, most traders say they are now busier than ever.
As you would expect for one of the most expensive and sought-after places to live, North Street Market is a place to buy high quality food and produce, and top notch non-food goods and services.
Yet the market retains its warmth and friendliness, thanks in large part to the diverse group of characters, some of whom have been trading on the market for 30 or 40 years.
“It’s like a family here,” said Suke Wibaut, who has run her confectionery business, Butter and Cream Cakes, on the market, with the help of her husband, Tom, for the past 12 years.
Suke is a trained caterer who saw a gap in the market to specialise in cupcakes and celebration cakes after seeing a London company making a go of it.
“The market was the perfect place to start up,” said Suke, who started making her cakes at home but now has a shop and a unit where she employs staff in nearby Milford.
“I have grown to love this market and although we have the shop we look forward to market days because it has also become a social life. Traders and customers have become friends,” said Suke, who sees her stall as the perfect showcase shop window, bringing in orders for celebration cakes.
Her husband, Tom, said: “It is a lovely market and it seems to run itself. We don’t
see much of the council and that works fine.”
The market is delegated to Guildford Borough Council’s parking department and traders say they do respond quickly if needed — but generally the market runs smoothly on its own.
What started as a local produce market soon grew to traders selling many different lines, the only rule being they had to live within 10 miles of the borough of Guildford.
In its heyday in the 1930s, the market was heaving, with traders selling china, glass, clocks, watches and much more, all hawking their wares at full pelt.
One well-known character was Garcia, the “Chocolate King” and another trader called Marks sold fabrics and army boots.
Today’s market traders are also a colourful bunch with life stories to tell.
They include Heidi Jones who sells flowers, and Emma Findlay who runs Unique Fruits.
  Suke and Tom Wibaut run Butter and Cream Cakes, a popular cake business which has been on the market for 12 years
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