OPINION: Norwich Market now feels like an experience again

Iconic Norwich marketplace looking colourful in the sunshine. Picture: Laura Baxter

Iconic Norwich marketplace looking colourful in the sunshine. Picture: Laura Baxter - Credit: Laura Baxter

A year-and-a-half ago I took a desperate call from a trader on Norwich Market.

I don't recall his exact words but the theme of the conversation was his concerns at dying trade and that many stallholders faced a grim future.

We mobilised and launched a campaign urging people to get behind the historic market and give it their support.

Eighteen months on and the picture is very different. The market is thriving once more and this was highlighted on Monday when it received two awards at the prestigious EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.

But this isn't a column intended to crow.

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While the Evening News' campaign will have no doubt helped to bring some more trade, it is the stallholders themselves, as well as Norwich City Council, who deserve most of the credit.When I walked around the market following that aforementioned call, the biggest thing that struck me was that it didn't appear to have adapted its offering to meet the modern demands.

When there are all manner of £1 and 99p shops offering similar products at a fraction of the price, there will always be a proportion of customers who follow the money and head where its cheaper.

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But in the last year or so that has changed. The market has diversified, brought in new stalls and found its niche.

And in case you weren't aware that niche is food and there is now all manner of top quality grub from all over the world that can be purchased there at fantastically cheap prices.

And while many of the more traditional stalls remain, the benefit of this is that if footfall is increased once more, people who head there looking for one thing, are more likely to go and buy something else.

The key is variety. Norwich Market now feels like an experience again and, if they so desired, shoppers could easily head there for a few hours and nowhere else.

There are still improvements to be made to enhance the overall customer experience, but I'm so pleased this vital facility for Norwich is on the up once more.

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