Fringe Box



‘There’s Nobody Here’ – Farmers’ Market Suffering From Relocation

Published on: 8 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 10 Jul, 2016
Guildford Farmers' Market has been moved to the Old Police Station Car Park, on Leapale Road, while the setts are being re-laid on the High Street.

Guildford Farmers’ Market has been moved to the Old Police Station Car Park, on Leapale Road, while the setts are being re-laid on the High Street.

By Will Parsons

Business has been slow at Guildford Farmers’ Market as stalls struggle to attract customers during their temporary relocation; yet stallholders continue to pay standard rates.

The farmers’ market, which is held on the first Tuesday of every month, has been relocated from the High Street to the Old Police Station Car Park on Leapale Road, off North Street, while the High Street setts are being re-laid.

The market has been held at the Leapale Road site since March, and is due to return to the High Street in September.

Without the foot traffic that the market usually receives on the High Street, many of the stallholders said that, at the new site, they have received far less custom over the past months.

“Anywhere other than here,” said Ian Nicholls, who runs a stall selling olives. “It’s a nice spot, but it’s so quiet.”

When asked how business had been, he said: “Terrible. Up until today, we were probably about 50% down on what we normally are; today it’s been about 75%.

“And it’s probably one of the better days, because we’ve had rain previously. It’s good weather for it now, but there’s nobody here.”

“I’m not really fussed about the move bit,” said Kevin Oakman, of Pimpernel Fisheries. “It’s just, why didn’t they move us to where the Saturday market is on North Street?

“And then everyone would be happy because you have passing trade.”

Despite the reduced custom, stallholders are still paying the same pitch fee as they would on the High Street. Kaz Littleton-Gray, who helps tend a stall at the market, said some of the stallholders had questioned the logic behind charging the same rate.

“We feel we should have had a lower rate of rent,” she said, “especially as there doesn’t seem to have been a huge amount of advertising to tell people where we are.”

“It’s the economics,” said Mr. Oakman. “We’re not taking the money and we’re still expected to pay the same amount.”

Stalls like Celtic Bakers, which specializes in artisan bread, have suffered from diminished trade.

Stalls like Celtic Bakers, which specializes in artisan bread, have suffered from diminished trade.

However, Sue Webber, the Farmers’ Market Coordinator for Guildford Borough Council, insisted that there was no other option but to charge the full rate to cover the outgoing costs of holding the market.

“We’ve blown a lot of money on publicity,” she added. “We did radio adverts on Eagle, and got new banners – I’ve put up thirty signs this morning around the high street and North Street.

“The other option was to not do it for sixth months, which would mean we’d have lost a lot of our customer base and a lot of the producers.”

Ms Webber also said that Leapdale Road was the best location to hold the market, as it had the greatest capacity and was easily accessible for the elderly regulars who have continued to visit the stalls.

She said: “I looked at every possible site in Guildford when we heard the news about the works on the High Street. We can fit fifty stalls on this site, but I couldn’t have gotten anywhere near that amount on North Street alone.”

Those tending the stalls were anxious to return to the High Street. “The sooner the better,” said Ms Littleton-Gray. “Looking forward to September, to getting back.”

Guildford Dragon NEWS editor, Martin Giles added: “It is a shame that a lack of publicity is blamed as one of the contributory factors for the low footfall at the Farmers’ Market temporary location.

“Guildford Borough Council appear to have a rather petty policy of not placing any advertising with us while they spend tens of thousands with other less critical local media.

“We could have helped publicise the markets temporary move at a very reasonable rate. I just hope that by reporting the story we will help inform both the market’s customers and the stall holders, alike.”

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Responses to ‘There’s Nobody Here’ – Farmers’ Market Suffering From Relocation

  1. Sue Warner Reply

    July 8, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I can never get to the Farmer’s market as I work full-time out of town but this is the first I heard of the temporary move – their advertising doesn’t seem to have been well placed.

    Signs on the day, OK, but where any signs up at other times informing people?

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    July 8, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    When the market is in the High Street office staff and shop workers come when they have their dinner break, even Guildford Borough Council staff, but they do not have enough time to get to the temporary site and back in a hour.

    I have been saying for years Guildford needs a town square like Salisbury, where markets, entertainment, fetes and many other functions could be held.

  3. Sue Fox Reply

    July 9, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I’m appalled the Farmer’s Market stallholders are being charged High Street rates. Are the shops on the High Street going to get compensation for loss of trade? If so, the regular stall holders should too.

    Before the move several stallholders asked me how they got there, if the council couldn’t give them directions how could locals get there, let alone the umpteen tourists who love the high street and used to enjoy the market.

    Please visit on August 2 the last one in the car park and then return to High Street in September.

    The stallholders are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable – much nicer than supermarkets – and they encourage you to try new things. Whats more the food is brilliant.

  4. Barry Williams Reply

    July 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Perhaps all market stallholders, both those from North Street and those from the farmers’ markets might benefit from having a permanent covered site in the town centre along the French or Spanish style.

    This could offer modern hygenic stands, removed from the noise and dirt of passing traffic with decent and safe lock up facilities for storage and waste disposal.

    Given a location near the riverside this could become a thriving hub that included small snack bars and perhaps allow a facility for short-term pitch rentals for local artisans and crafts people – and it would be undercover in adverse winter weather.

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