THIS WEEK is national Love Your Local Market week – and it’s a campaign I am always delighted to back.
Like many residents I am fond of our markets and they are a passion that dates right back to my childhood.
My first-ever part-time job, when I was still at Hathershaw Comprehensive, was folding jumpers and sorting out stock on Peter Haq’s outdoor market stall in Oldham. Typical of the tradition that goes with these things, his family still runs a stall on the inside market to this very day.
One of my saddest ever memories came later when I was working as a ‘Saturday Girl’ at Littlewoods, in what is now the Primark building, in 1974.
I will never forget standing in the canteen at the back of the building with other staff overlooking the site of the old market hall, which had burned down overnight.
It had clearly been a huge blaze, the market was destroyed and the tears came freely to us all.
We all have our market memories and anecdotes – much happier than that one, I hope! – and the Love Your Local Market campaign is a great way of celebrating the importance of markets to local communities.
Buildings may come and go – and shopping habits have also changed drastically over the years – but markets still have a unique appeal.
They offer great services at a price that doesn’t break the bank. You can choose from a great range of good quality local produce and traditional foodstuffs – and above all markets are about the people.
You can meet some really incredible characters on the stalls and make great new friends in a way that other forms of shopping simply don’t tend to offer.
‘Click and collect’ or ‘home delivery’ services don’t give you conversation, the chance to ask questions about what you are buying or the choice to pick exactly what you want.
And out of town retail parks – although undoubtedly serving a purpose and having a clear audience – don’t have bustling aisles full of people browsing and socialising, and eager shoppers bartering with traders and swapping titbits.
A visit to market has always been about the experience and we’re trying to help encourage new vendors to give it a go.
We’ve just recently launched a new scheme to tempt budding traders through a £5 Friday Market for the outdoor market at Tommyfield.
This is absolutely ideal for people just starting out with a new small business – or who just want to have a go at trading and see how it goes.
Free public liability insurance is on offer for this, but places are limited so traders need to express an interest soon. Other offers include four weeks’ free rent for stalls who introduce a new trader to us – plus the chance for the newbie to pay three weeks’ rent up front and then get the next three for absolutely no charge.
The first £5 Friday Market will be held soon and you can find out more information here.
To learn more about Oldham’s markets, why not follow them and show your support on social media? You can even ask questions and the markets team will get you an answer either via the Facebook page here or the Twitter account @oldhammarkets
You can also find details there about the Love Your Local Market events taking place this week which include funfairs, jazz musicians, bingo, and even magic tricks.
Aside from Tommyfield, Oldham does – of course, also have some other brilliant local markets at Shaw, Royton, Saddleworth and others.
Information and details about all these can be found on our Markets webpage at: http://www.oldham.gov.uk/markets
Please pay your local market a visit, try shopping local and grab yourself a bargain soon.