Traders jump at chance to test the market in King’s Lynn
More than 30 would-be market traders have signed up for a new scheme giving them a free pitch to try out their ideas on.
King's Lynn's Tuesday Market was bigger and busier today, as new stalls selling antiques, pottery, bric-a-brac, crafts and puppets opened up alongside the regulars.
Among them were Sarah Addison and Jo Parnell from Terrington Clement, owners of Discovering Workshops. Their colourful stall selling toys and puppets attracted lots of interest.
'It's been really positive and people have been impressed with our stall,' Mrs Addison said. 'We have made some sales and we are really here to promote the business.
'We would definitely consider coming back based on the response we've had so far.'
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Jane Ackers, of Bobbins Crafts, jumped at the chance for a free pitch after trading at a number of disappointing craft fairs over the summer.
'The weather has been terrible, it's been a wash-out,' she said. 'I snapped up the chance to come here and it's been lovely to meet the other stall holders and get some ideas.'
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Rosemary Perkins was selling a selection of gifts, clothes and perfume on her stall and would like to see Test the Market become a regular thing.
'I usually trade on Ebay and do the odd stall when the weather is good,' she said.
The initiative was met with scepticism by existing traders, with some warning it was 'too little too late,' to save the market.
Lee Martin, owner of the LR Martin fruit and vegetables stall, said the council should have done more sooner to support the market.
'Just in the last two years it's got a lot smaller. The horse has already bolted,' he said. 'Something should have been done before it was dead on its feet, but it is a positive move.
'The Tuesday Market Place used to be the centre of town, but it's not any more. We need to move to where the shoppers are.'
The DK Fresh Flowers stall had been on the market for more than 30 years when Darrel Keen took over a month ago.
'It's been quiet for the last few weeks, but it's a slow time of year for the market business anyway,' he said. 'There are more people here today and the good thing is that the council is trying - if you don't try you'll never know.
'We've got nothing to lose and if we don't try something, there could be nothing here. We find our customers are generally older people, but I think younger people are starting to come now as well.
'I wouldn't have taken over if I thought it didn't have a future - I'm in it to win it.'
The Wilcox Bakery has been selling home-made biscuits, cakes and pies on the market for two years and stall holder Kevin Ritchie said it had been a struggle at times.
'The high street and the markets need an extra push,' he said. 'The market is in the council's backyard and it's a chartered market town, so you would think they would have made an effort before it got to this stage.
'I think it's a good initiative, but the new stalls are only being given a week rent free so it's short-sighted, really.
'Markets are about quality products, not always the cheapest products. Our regulars come rain or shine and the markets are generally supported by the over 60s - younger people's shopping habits are different.'
New traders will also be setting up on the Friday and Saturday Markets in Lynn and Hunstanton market, in the Southend car park, on Sunday.