Page 29 - Market Times June 2021
P. 29

FEATURE • STOCKTON
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 All these achievements have been recognised by a succession of awards from NABMA, the National Association of British Market Authorities. It staged the best Love Your Local Market event in 2014 and was named best large outdoor market in 2017. Richard was named Market Manager of the Year in 2018 and most recently the market’s greengrocer won the title of Market Trader of the Year.
The traders are generally upbeat, particularly after they were supported by the council through the pandemic with several months of free rent.
Jaz Singh, a market trader of 35 years standing, who sells watch batteries and straps on the market, said: “I can’t compare this to any other market because it’s full, the management is supportive and help us and it is a great market in every way.”
Matthew Graves moved on to the market four years ago because he saw it as the ideal shop window for his business selling Avon products, which was previously all door-to-door.
“I took advantage of the four weeks free trading to start with and all the support was there for someone new to market trading,” he said.
“I love the personal touch and it was perfect to take my Avon products to where people were shopping,” he added.
One of the longest serving traders, William Fife, has been selling eggs on
Stockton Market for 42 years.
And the McMahon family greengrocery
business goes back even longer. “My grandfather started it in 1977,” said Isobel McMahon. Her father, Andrew, has worked for the business for the past 40 years and Isobel had no qualms about following in her family’s footsteps.
“I have been working on the stall for the past nine years, since I was 16,” she said.
The McMahons were stunned when they were named as market traders of the year after Richard entered them in the NABMA competition without telling them.
Richard said: “They really are exceptional traders. They do a lot of social media and Isobel’s mum is a great chef, so she posts recipes on Facebook.”
Isobel said they started a delivery service in lockdown and they are continuing the service.
Other traders also rate Stockton market and its diverse offer. Richard Gray of Denmark Fish has been a market fish trader for 35 years and has stood Stockton market for the past 30 years.
“I have always done well here,” he said.
And Shaun Sweeney, who took over his father-in-law’s plant and flower business on the market three years ago, said: “I modernised the business a bit since taking it over and in lockdown we set up a web site and started doing deliveries.”
Trader initiatives such as deliveries and
increased social media promotion are promising signs that the market is well placed to meet the challenges of the future and Richard says occupancy is close on 100 per cent, with 100 stalls most market days.
So what of the future? Coun Cooke said: “The market has always been the heart of Stockton and our vision for the regeneration is built around our market. We have had a vision to transform this town going back years and the pandemic has actually accelerated this.”
The grand scheme involves demolishing Castlegate Shopping Centre that runs along one side of High Street and the Swallow Hotel, to be replaced by Stockton Waterfront, a riverside park with direct access to the river from the High Street.
The council has purchased Wellington Square at the north end of the High Street and the plan is to relocate retail tenants there to create a new more compact retail hub.
It seems likely that the market will be re- located there, and Richard says some traders have already expressed the view that the market needs to be where the main shopping centre is.
Coun Cooke said that the council will consult widely and listen to what traders have to say. “We understand how important the market is to this town and it has always been at the forefront of our vision and planning,” he added.
  Isobel McMahon is the third generation of the family fruit and veg business that has been on Stockton market since 1977. They were recently named Market Traders of the Year in the NABMA, the National Association of British Market Authorities, awards
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