Last week, Blog Preston ran the first article in a four-part mini-series celebrating the independent businesses trading on Preston Markets as well as speaking to the people who shop there.Advertisement
This week we explore the Market Hall further and find out why the traders would like to encourage the people of Preston to ‘shop local’.
It’s early Friday morning in Preston Markets’ Market Hall and queues are starting to form at many of the stalls.
Livesey’s Butchers’ stall was established on Preston Market 20 years ago. People travel from as far as Manchester for the butchers’ knowledge and produce. This family-run business prides itself on working with independent farmers, wholesalers, and artisan suppliers, supplying local restaurants as well as the community of Preston and beyond.
“You get very good service,” said Adrian Livesey. “If you require your meat diced, we will do that. All the staff that work here are highly skilled. We get to know people, we have laughs and jokes.”
During the pandemic, Livesey’s butchers were out delivering meat throughout the day and into the evening. Since then, they have seen younger families coming into the market to shop. Parking, though, they feel is a problem.
The issue of parking and navigating the traffic system into Preston is an issue some of the traders across Preston Markets commented on. A few reported that the roadworks taking place as part of the Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme, close to the market, has affected trade, with pedestrians unable to cross the ring road close to the courts.
“We were surprised to see that the ring road has been blocked so people can’t park at the other side of the ring road and cross over,” said Karen Davie, of Karen’s Collectables on the Box Market. “People now have to walk down the ring road, cross over and walk back up. They’ve taken away the bus stops close to the market too.”
It’s something that resonates with Jonathan Strand, who runs Arthur Strand’s delicatessen.
“Parking could be improved. I have friends in my local area who would like to drive into Preston to shop here, just park outside and pop in quickly but they can’t, so they’re reluctant,” he said. “Some of our customers used to park on the other side of the ring road but due to the roadworks the access has been blocked.”
Blog Preston asked Lancashire County Council if there were plans to install a temporary crossing where the previous one was located to enable people walking from Lawson Street to gain quick access to the market and the city centre.
A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “A temporary pedestrian crossing that was put in place near Lawson Street has been moved to Market Street while we install a signalled pedestrian crossing.
“The temporary crossing will move back to Lawson Street once we have put the infrastructure in place on the northern side and will remain in place until work on the south side is completed.
“All works relating to the Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme are due for completion in March 2023.
“Traffic management measures will remain until the completion day to ensure the safety of both highways operatives and the general public.”
Read more: Council speaks out after members of public cause chaos by removing cones and signs to reopen Friargate
Despite the issue of parking, Jonathan is incredibly positive about the market and all it has to offer. Arthur Strand Cooked Meat stall was established in 1972 when the original indoor market first opened. Jonathan, Arthur’s son, now runs the market stall delicatessen serving a wide range of fresh and preserved meats and pies, championing local produce. Like many of the stalls in the Market Hall, it is very popular, with long queues and friendly, skilled staff.
“There were some teething troubles when the Market Hall first opened,” said Jonathan, “but now it is a lot more positive.
“During and after the pandemic we served a lot of younger people shopping for their parents and they’re still coming, it’s great to see.”
He continued: “On Saturdays, young families are coming in to do the big shop, they realise the quality and that is what we want. They can buy pork pies from us, sausages from Livesey’s, and fruit and veg from either of the fruit stalls. We’ve got everything they need. We try to be competitive with our prices and everything we sell is very good quality. People who shop and eat from here, eat really well.
“We have regulars who we know on first name terms, you don’t get that in a supermarket. We’ve served two or three generations of families.
“People do come from out of town and spend the day in Preston. We have visitors from Blackpool, Blackburn and other places. It’s a little gem, Preston Market.”
As well as food, the Market Hall is also home to stalls selling bags, purses and luggage, boots, shoes and sandals, make-up and wigs, body jewellery and watch straps, mobile phones, and iPads. At the front of the market, Pete runs Bossy Boots selling boots, shoes, sandals, and slippers at affordable prices.
UR Phones has been trading on Preston Market for 9 years, offering same-day repairs on electrical gadgets. As well as repairing phones, iPads and other electrical items, the stall sells mobile phones and accessories. The Market Jewellers has been in operation since 1998; Adrienne started her career fitting watch batteries in her father’s jewellers at the age of 13. Now, with many qualifications under her belt, Adrienne is a skilled and qualified jeweller.
Valerie Sargeant has run Wise Buys Hair and Beauty on Preston Market for 40 years. Her extensive stall sells wigs, extensions, hair accessories and make-up.
“People are coming back to the market,” she said. “There’s a good atmosphere, lots of choice. More people are coming from out of town. It’s definitely improving.”
Established in 1965, Sheridan’s Bags sells a wide variety of handbags, rucksacks, purses, wallets, as well as luggage and holdalls. Gail Maudsley’s parents opened the stall on the outdoor market initially. Gail remembers being a child and sat in an egg box underneath the counter for the day, eating a sandwich and reading her comic. Gail and her parents saw the indoor market hall being built in the early 70s and relocated inside. When she became a teenager, she was allowed to serve. Gail’s husband, David, began working on the stall in the early ’70s.
“It’s just a job we’ve always done,” said Gail.
It’s clear from the way that they enthuse about the market that it’s a job that they enjoy and feel passionate about.
“People are pleased we are here, they venture all over town, looking for a bag or a wallet and they can’t find anything. Many of the shops have closed down. They don’t want to buy online as it is expensive to send something back. Customers like to be able to touch and feel a product, they want to open it up, and look inside. If they’re going to a wedding or a function, they need to see that the colour matches or complements what they’re wearing. Colours don’t always match up if they buy it online.”
Gail and David like to see new traders open up in the market and do well: “50 per cent of our trade is from people who know we’re here. New traders bring new customers into the market. People get to know you, they come back to you to shop, and trust you, because you have been here a long time. We have people saying they would rather support a small business.”
Gail’s parents used to keep a visitor’s book, inviting people from across the world to sign it when they visited their stall.
“People from every continent have visited Preston Market,” said Gail. “When international students first arrive in Preston they come to the market with their families, because at home a market is the place they would usually shop. We have customers Facetiming their families in their home countries, taking presents and gifts back home in the Philippines or India for example.”
Gail and David feel Preston Market weathered the pandemic storm as the food stalls were able to open.
“It was still a destination,” said Gail. “A lot of markets remained closed throughout the pandemic so people changed their shopping habits and sadly didn’t return. The food traders here in Preston Market did very well staying open and it meant that when we were able to reopen again people were still used to shopping in the market.
“This is one of the most vibrant parts of town. It has a buzz, if anything is happening, it’s happening here!”
Next week we will be speaking to one market trader battling negativity directed at Preston Market on social media, and talking to the traders on the Box Market as well as finding out why Mark, who runs the record fair, enjoys trading in Preston.
Preston City Council outlined that the Market Surface Car Park is a short stay facility located close to the Market Hall. It is accessible from the ring road.
Preston Market Hall is open from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5pm. Individual trader times may vary. Contact the individual traders on the Box Market for their opening hours. Preston’s outdoor market is open from 8am to 3pm. The second-hand market runs on Tuesdays 8am to 3pm.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines