NEW investment could herald the reinvention of Wrexham markets, say traders.
Stallholders at the People’s, Butchers’ and General Markets are optimistic about the future after a pledge by Wrexham Council to retain all three markets and increase the annual repair and maintenance budget by £100,000 to £227,000 for
For the People’s Market this could mean the installation of a new heating system, plus antique-style trading carts and an upgrade of its CCTV.
In the General Market there could be a new floor, repairs to the glass roof and a new speaker system, while The Butchers’ Market could get automatic doors and its toilets upgraded.
Rob Clarke, of Mad4Movies in the Butchers’ Market, said experienced traders are willing to share their knowledge to help prospective stallholders get their venture off the ground.
He added: “It’s a lovely building but it needs sprucing up to make it look more inviting.
“We are a family and we bounce off each other. You’ll get someone coming in for meat, and they’ll spot a speciality cheese.
“Then they might come and buy a DVD or a hat. We help one another out.”
Nigel Jones, of M.E. Evans in the Butchers’ Market, said a deep clean of the markets should be the starting point.
He said: “The entrances need to be more inviting too. We have banter with the customers that they don’t get at the supermarket.
“Years ago people would come to Wrexham to spend a whole day at the Monday market. Perhaps if it moved from Queens Square to High Street and Chester Street it would generate more footfall for us. It’s really good that the council is listening to us at last.”
Haberdasher Jane Mee, of the Butchers’ Market, said better promotion would lead to more visitors.
She said: “A lot of people don’t know we’re here, or what is actually in here. They assume that because it’s called the Butchers’ Market it is only full of butchers, when actually there is more.
“Cleanliness is one of the most important things for me, followed by better management.”
Julie O’Reilly, of Fascinations hat shop in the Butchers’ Market, said: “I think a big revamp is in order but it needs to be made to look traditional.
“People have shown us overwhelming support in the six months we’ve been here.”
Colleague Florence Hardman added: “We offer something different to any other stall in the market and diversity is what makes a market succeed.”
Their sentiments were echoed in the People’s Market.
Gareth Thomas, of Siop y Siswrn, said: “When T.J. Hughes closed we lost a lot of footfall. I would like to see the whole thing opened up, and maybe a cafe in the middle. People feel more secure in an actual shop unit rather than stalls.
“I think an antiques or boutique-type stall would be really popular.”
Barry Williams, of the Beauty Box, said: “The People’s Market in particular has a problem in the fact it looks like the bottom floor of a car park. The stalls are so antiquated, it needs to look more like a market.
“The Butchers’ Market has canopies over the stalls which look nice.”
Furniture stall holder Jeff Hough thinks alternating the outdoor Monday market between Queen’s Square and Chester Street would encourage visitors to use the indoor markets more.
He said: “Wrexham used to be a major shopping town in North Wales, but now it just seems tacky and dated. We need to try and get that back.”
Shabab Anwar, of Anwar in the General Market, said small things like automatic doors, a heating system and music would make a big difference.
He said: “We want to open the doors to invite people in but we can’t because it’s too cold, I have to wear layers.
“And people with prams are put off because they struggle to open the doors.”
Yesterday David Evans travelled from Telford to Wrexham to buy a Welsh rugby shirt from Mr Anwar, after he made an appearance on BBC television on Wednesday night.
Mr Evans said: “I saw the shirt on television and I just had to come to Wrexham to buy it.”
There are more than 100 stalls within the three indoor markets, but the number of stallholders has fallen by 20 per cent since 2007.
On Wednesday, members of the council’s employment, business and investment scrutiny committee were asked to consider a number of options, including reconfiguration and investment.
Cefn councillor Dave Taylor said: “Is there a need for a third market? That’s the question we need to debate.”
Offa councillor Alun Jenkins said: “I think there probably is a need for a third market. In my mind it’s a question of where that third market needs to be.”
Ponciau councillor Paul Pemberton said: “I, for one, would love to see a third market stay open. The People’s Market has got to be one of the most unattractive areas of Wrexham. It’s a tragedy really.”
Brynfynnon councillor Phil Wynn added: “We’ve got to be radical. We should strive to be the best we can.”
And council leader, Cllr Neil Rogers said: “The council cannot do everything but we’re willing to give it a go.”
After an impassioned plea by traders, members voted to increase the maintenance budget and improve market management “as a matter of urgency.”
A task and finish group has been set up to oversee the process and members’ preferred options will be put to the executive board for approval.