Residents are being urged to support their local market, as indoor and outdoor markets are now back open following the coronavirus pandemic.
Market halls and locations temporarily closed during the restrictions – except Stoke Indoor Market where essential stalls stayed open – but now market traders are up and running again and eager for shoppers to visit.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council worked hard to plan the reopening, with all necessary safety measures in place to protect shoppers and traders. This includes social distancing markers reminders, hygiene sanitising facilities, one-way systems and restricted entrance and exit arrangements.
During the lockdown, when many independent businesses have struggled nationally, the council has actually received new requests from people wanting to open market stalls. Tunstall market has seen expressions of interests about furniture restoration, florist, footwear, hardware and outdoor casual stalls, with a new pet stall set to open at the market this Saturday (July 4).
William Lewis, owner of Doggie Doddles at Tunstall Indoor Market, said: “I have owned a stall at Tunstall market selling animal art work for just over a year and I am now opening a new stall selling pet essentials on Saturday, July 4. I decided to open another stall based on the needs of the community and am looking forward to the business expanding.
“I have been fortunate to not be as affected by the market closure as others, as I have been taking online orders. However the atmosphere at Tunstall market is great now we are all back open. We have an excellent market manager, everybody is really friendly and shoppers always compliment the market on traders’ customer service.”
The council has supported traders during the lockdown by awarding more than £1 million pounds in discretionary grants, designed to help small businesses to continue through the restrictions. This money has been distributed to traders to support them with overheads and has helped them to meet their business needs while they were closed. A total of 172 traders operate under licences at the city’s markets and so far 101 have been successful in receiving a grant.
Theresa Leighs, owner of KLM Bargains at Longton Indoor Market, said: “My stall has been open since 2008 and sells a range of toiletries. Having to go into lockdown was a terrible shock to us all but something we all had to do. During this time markets traders were allowed to go into the market to prepare their stock for deliveries which I was grateful to be given the opportunity to still supply my customers especially those in isolation.
“As a self-employed person I was able to receive a government grant, that came in very useful to help pay everyday bills and I also received a grant from the council which has proved invaluable to me while trying to rebuild my business under what is now called the ‘new normal’.
“The market management have put a one-way system in at the market and hand sanitising stations. We are all absolutely delighted to see our lovely customers returning to our beautiful Victorian market. The atmosphere has been great, we have some wonderful people in Longton and the surrounding areas and they have become not only our customers but our friends over the years and to me that's what makes all this worth it.”
Ade Sumnell, owner of K & L Fresh Fruit and Veg at Stoke Indoor Market said: “As well as our fruit and veg stall in Stoke market we have also had a stall outside the Royal Stoke hospital for the past four years. While we have all been dealing with coronavirus we have concentrated our efforts at the hospital to provide fresh produce for key workers and offering home deliveries. However we are now back up and running at Stoke market and have also decided to continue with home deliveries going forward.
“Stoke market is a great place to trade at, the atmosphere is really positive and it is like one big family. After realising it would be a great opportunity, my wife is opening a unisex hairdressing stall, Carrie’s Hair Parlour at the market this Saturday (July 4). It will be the first hairdressers at Stoke market.”
Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for environment, said: “It is fantastic to see all our markets open again, and welcoming customers in. We have been waiting for this moment for such a long time, and our message to shoppers is: come and have a look – there is more choice and more goods for you to choose from, and we want to encourage everyone to visit in the knowledge that our facilities are open with measures to protect visitors and traders.
“Our markets have a wide range of traders offering food, flowers, pet products and clothing to name just a few. It is great to see Stoke-on-Trent markets back open once again. Markets make an exceptional contribution to the community and we urge residents to shop fresh and local.
“We know that the lockdown has been really tough for traders, as it has for a lot of businesses. We treat this very seriously, and have met with and listened to traders to understand their experiences through the lockdown, and to look at what support we can provide.
“The vast majority of traders have been able to access Government grants to support them while the markets were closed. We have also given a 75 per cent discount on back rent at Stoke market for those essential stalls that have continued to trade through the lock down period and a 50 per cent discount has been offered on cafe rents across all markets on the basis they were unable to have seating areas until the Government legislation was revoked.
“Work is continuing on the restoration of Tunstall Town Hall, in line with Government health and safety guidelines. The building is being brought back to life to attract more people into the town, and as part of that the market will have a new entrance. We have put new signage in place to make the entrance as welcoming as possible during these works. Our markets have seen and are continuing to receive investment from the city council.”
Stoke-on-Trent markets are open on weekdays and weekends, with Hanley Indoor Market open Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm; and Stoke Indoor Market, Longton Indoor Market and Tunstall Indoor Market open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am-5pm.
Outdoor markets are open, and they run at the following locations and times: Hanley Outdoor Market at Fountain Square, Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm; Bentilee Outdoor Market at Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre car park, on Tuesdays, 9am to 4pm; Fenton Outdoor Market at City Road, on Thursdays 8am to 3pm. A Sunday outdoor market and car boot sale takes place at Birch Terrace in the city centre, next to the City Centre Bus Station will remain closed until further notice.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 236703.