Sunday, 26 October 2014

How are things progressing down at the New Watford Market?

This Saturday 25th October I was down at the #NewWatfordMarket to catch up with the stall holders and how they were doing after the first two weeks of trading. During this time we have had a fair amount of rain... the back end of that hurricane Gonzo or whatever it was... and some mild and cold weather!

To the left a #Google #AutoAwesome video of 3 Interviews that I did with Ray proprietor of Ell's Cafe, Gary who is the owner of the fruit and vegetable stall and AJ who runs 'Nuts about Spice'.

The market is officially opened this Friday coming the 31st October... and last week saw the handover of the site to Town & Country who operate a number of markets around the country.

Personally and I know that I speak for many others also we want the market to be a huge success and to be honest now it has moved the only option available to the traders is to get on with it. There are some who have fared better in this move up the high street than others and it was with the specific intention of finding out what the 'lay of the land' was; first hand, that I donned #glass and set about doing some video interviews. There are no agenda's here... I just wanted to find out how these traders had acclimatized to what is a very different set of operating conditions to the ones recently vacated.

Below the three interviews...

Ray operates the highly very popular Ell's cafe and this is where we at Link4Growth host our Saturday Link4Coffee on the market. Of all the traders Ray has probably had to re-invent his business the most. Upstairs the cafe area has far less space than they had previously, it is out doors and so far colder, much further from the bus stops that brought the elderly clientele and serviced by a lift and narrow stairs both of which have some challenges. Ray has experienced periodic electricity blackouts and suffers from a real lack of storage space too... but he's upbeat, he knows that to make this work he has to alter the way the team work... for example they are now offering waitress service to take the food to people as the cramped conditions make getting food out virtually impossible and people waiting clogs up the operation inside the unit.  Ray is looking forward to getting the 2nd unit which is primarily a take away service downstairs up and running and hopefully local office staff will be able to pop buy for hot food and drink from this Friday when the market open officially. We wish you and the team all the best Ray!

Gary is the man behind the Fruit and Veg store on the Watford Market... Gary has been operating the Watford Market for 14 years and in our interview he states that you have to look at this new market as a completely new business. Gary actually has 3 sites in Watford, the one outside the old Charter place opposite the One Bell... one just inside the market and then the much larger Gazebo based area in the high street by the flyover. Although Gary is pretty confident that the move to this new position will be a success it does not come without some challenges! The tail end of the hurricane this week meant that Gary was forced to acquire 400lbs in weights to keep his new Gazebo on the ground! The new market being outside will mean that the winter months might seem a lot longer than those under the roof in charter place... we hope that a steady supply of thermals are on order for the team! Gary is also constrained by a huge lack of storage space which is a comment from pretty much all the traders I have spoken with... let us hope that this is a minor irritation that can soon be put right!

My 3rd Interview was with AJ the 'Nuts about Spice' lady. I've been buying nuts and various spices, bread flour's and a whole array of other goodies over the year but how has this move affected AJ. Well significantly is the word. AJ is finding that the 5 day a week regime in the new market is taking its toll... being a sole operator pretty much means that much of the weighing work, measuring, boxing and planning must take place in the evening, making her workload much larger than in the old market. AJ is finding that the box type nature of the unit is also deterring people from entering the stall as people feel like once they are in, then they feel that they will have to buy something... What with this and also the fact that there is no parking in the immediate vicinity, at times lugging stock backwards and forwards is a real chore only exacerbated once again by the lack of available storage on site.

The New Market is up and running... but there is a long way to go... the roof leaks, the lift is not fit for purpose, the stairs too narrow, inadequate onsite storage and seemingly a lot more rules and regs that are stifling the traders creativity to get over some of the obvious hurdles they are experiencing...

The market will succeed.... of that there is little doubt, it's in the town charter to have a market and so unless the charter is changed the market is safe... what we have to do folks is get down there and support our local traders... the more we do this... the better it will become I'm sure!