A year has passed since I was last at Freeman Street Indoor Market in Grimsby and Sean McGarel and the team have continued the good work they have done since the site was renovated. The surrounding area is currently under development and hundreds of flats that surround the market have recently been evacuated and boarded up. These residents were part of the market’s core customers but this hasn’t perturbed the management team who are continuing to grow and invest in the market and are working hard with the traders to promote the centre to the local people of Grimsby.
Love your local market is just one of a number of promotions that run at Freeman Street throughout the year and this year a number of activities were scheduled to take place, including a fine food festival, craft fair, kids club, live music and an advice and information day in conjunction with Citizens Advice and including a surgery with a local MP. The surgeries are a regular feature at the market, running from 10.00 – 12.00 on Saturdays at the centre’s information point and during my visit the local ward councillor had appointments throughout his session.
On the day that I was at Freeman Street Market, the main event was the Courtyard Spotlight – live music from a couple of bands that took place in the Courtyard area of the market. The first musicians were a duo called Rainmaker who took to the stage at midday. As regular readers will recall, I mentioned in my article last year that within the Courtyard there is a recording studio called MiniMatt. Matt Raistrick and Hetty McCarthy of Rainmaker have recorded there and Centre Manager Sean approached them to perform. Their acoustic indie set seemed to go down well with the customers present.
The second performers of the day were members of an alternative folk band from Scunthorpe called Ramble Gamble who had also recorded at the studio. Normally a seven piece, they had performed as a five piece before but on this occasion, due to illness, just two band members performed. Speaking to traders and customers during and after the event, they all agreed that the performances helped to bring people to the market and promote its profile.
Bill Hanley who sells fresh fish and eggs agreed that the entertainment helps boost trade. He has had a fish stall at Freeman Street for 25 years and is still doing a good trade, saying that he does better than most in terms of wet fish sales, part of which he accredits to being in Grimsby.
Cathy Ashmore has been involved in her father’s greengrocers since she was a tot. She now runs Ron Bishell’s which has been established for over 40 years. Like Bill, she also sells eggs as well as her main lines but her range includes both duck and goose eggs. She told me her customers were the best in the world and many she knows by name. She likes the different entertainment that the market runs and says it brings in new people.
Tracy Grantham worked at a different market in town before relocating to Freeman Street two years ago. She has a good regular trade for her pick and mix and pay by weight sweets. She agreed that Sean does a lot to promote the market and said the events bring a lot more customers in. During Valentine’s Day, she gave away chocolate roses to her customers and is always looking for ways to get more people to her stall.
New to Freeman Street is jeweller Helen Lakin. Before taking on a unit at the market, she was making jewellery and selling it at craft fairs. She has one of the smaller units and loves the fact that she can make and store everything there and doesn’t have to load and unload anymore. She complemented Sean on the way he supported and promoted her as a new starter and said that he was very community driven and all for improving the market. As well as her handmade jewellery, she sells other jewellery lines and handbags.
Another start up business migrating from home crafting is Sharon Baker of Sharon Crafts. She joined the traders in December, just catching the tail end of the Christmas rush, selling her handpainted plaques. She is familiar with the market as she used to work on Bill’s fish stall and in fact, a piece of her work, a painted crab shell, hangs proudly on his stand. Sharon is self taught and as well as her plaques, she has just introduced a range of patio pots. Most of the work she can do from the unit and she will take commissions which will take her just a few days to complete. She said of her experience at joining Freeman Street Market, ‘Everyone here is very friendly and supportive, everyone looks after you. I’ve been well looked after and was helped with some good introductory rates.’
Mandy Marriott of Mandy M Boutique started doing nails in the hair salon belonging to Shannon in the market before her shop unit became available, prior to that she was a mobile nail Bill Hanley shows a crab to a customer and inset, the shells are painted by trader Sharon Baker. technician. With the help of family she has completely transformed her business and it is now refurbished in stylish grey and orange. She moved in on 1 April and has already built up a steady trade. She told me, ‘Coming here has been really good. I’ve had a good response and already got my regulars. It’s like a little family here, everyone is really supportive.’
The ‘newbie’ prize however, must go to Chasing Rainbows, the smoothie stall that opened the week I visited. The stall is half of an existing double unit that came available after a trader retired. Technically, Andy Watson who owns the stall isn’t really eligible for the newest trader award as he is a partner in MiniMatt, the recording studio which is based within The Courtyard section of the market. However, a year on, business is doing well enough that he was able to start the smoothie and juice bar. They are still experimenting with recipes and combinations and I got them to create one for me, which was really good. As you would expect with someone who works in the creative arts sector, the stall was eye catching and a laptop showed a simple presentation listing the menu and ingredients. All of the fruit and vegetables come from the market and Andy is able to source them at a good price as he takes them at their optimum ripeness, which is perfect for juicing, but less appealing to the customer bulk buying for the week.
Also supporting other traders at the market are father and daughter Jason and Ellie Dobbs. Part of the ongoing improvements to the market includes the upgrade of their filled roll stall known as The Deli. Owned by the Dobbs family for the last fifteen years, they acquired it from a previous owner. Working with the market team, they closed for ten days whilst everything was ripped out and replaced, including the floor, roof and counters. They have a good regular trade and were busy throughout selling pre-filled rolls, sandwiches and baguettes. They buy all their salad items and some of their cakes from within the market.
The market bakers are very popular with customers and by the time I’d made my way round to Hunts Bakers and Confectioners, they had sold out of many lines. The actual bakery is within the market, which was purpose built for them so all their bread and cakes are handmade on site by Dennis Ballans’ wife. They have been at Freeman Street for twenty years and have seen a lot of changes. Dennis told me that the Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby had spent a lot of money investing in the market, complimenting them on the good job done and commenting that they had a tough job on their hands but were very committed.
I couldn’t visit Grimsby without eating fish and you can’t visit Freeman Street Market without a visit to the locally famous Pea Bung. It is said that the name originates from a hot pea shop in Convamore Road in Grimsby where fisherman would call in for peas and bread. The Pea Bungalow got shortened to The Pea Bung and the name stuck. Brian Wustrack and members of his family took over this established business, heralded as the most famous chip shop in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, six years ago, having previously had 33 years working on the railway. They all work closely together and they have built up an excellent reputation. They have a shop front with counter, as well as a 44 seat restaurant with table service and a hatch leading into the market. What strikes you about this fish and chip retailer is that everything is polished – the service is quick and efficient, everywhere is clean and tidy and the staff are very smartly presented. Oh and the food’s good too!
A number of new units have been built but unfortunately, these weren’t quite ready during my visit, although Chasing Rainbows had just moved in to one. These are centrally located and are decked in red and white striped skirts and canopies and form a four stall unit. These are just part of a wide range of trading opportunities, including barrows, glazed units and large stalls with prices starting from just £25 a week with introductory rates for new starters.
What is very apparent about Freeman Street Market is that they are continually investing and improving the market and seeking new trader opportunities. There is a real sense of community and everyone, including the management want other traders to be successful and actively support them however they can.
Rent one of our market barrows for just £30 per week, pay only £99 for the first 4 weeks on one of our aisle units, £47 thereafter. Our state of the art offices start at £2,880 per year including 100Mb broadband and air-con or there’s shop units in the Courtyard from £4,000 per year. Come and see what we can do for your business.