August 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm #99147
I have to say Philip, you’re doing a smashing job of blaming the customer, it’s not a policy with a constructive or successful past however.
Google things like British Leyland for example.
Actually, I wasn’t referring to the customer – as in the end consumer – I was thinking more of what you might call the “middle men” – the business owners. If anyone is blaming the customer, it’s them! They argue “I can’t make a success of my business because everyone goes to that other business down the road instead!”
The only reason Eagles Meadow is successful must be because it’s offering what customers want. Look at the cost of parking in Eagles Meadow and/or the effort it takes to get from the bus station to Eagles Meadow (Foot traffic, by the way, that passes right through all those other parts of town that claim they don’t get enough foot traffic to sustain a business!) so the average customer isn’t going to Eagles Meadow because it’s easier, or more convenient, or quicker to get there than into town. They’re going there because they want to and because it offers them what they want to make it worth the effort of getting there.
If the markets can’t keep up, instead of complaining about other businesses and implying that it’s the customers’ fault for not choosing to shop with them, think about what they’re actually offering. Are they offering a viable alternative to the places the customers do choose to shop? If not, then that’s why the customers are going elsewhere!
It’s not the fault of out-of-town retail parks either … they don’t “magically” steal customers JUST because they’re a retail park, the ones who take the customers are the ones that offer what the customer wants. That’s why Island Green is always packed, but the Central Road retail park, right next door to it, is dead! Offer people what they want and they’ll make the effort to come.
Caffe Nero: As near to the centre of town as you can possibly get, and always packed!
Waterstones: Not on a retail park, and just about as far from Eagles Meadow as you can get, and yet they obviously feel it’s worth investing in so much so that they refurbished the store towards the end of last year.
Peacocks: Went into administration, but was able to save some stores and chose Wrexham as one of the stores to save.
Barclays: Chose to move further into town rather than further out and has been able to sustain a larger premises ever since.
These are just a few examples that show that town can support a healthy successful business already, as long as that business is offering customers what they want and they can see the benefit of making the effort to come to you.August 27, 2015 at 6:10 pm #99148
Just thought that I would print this up for you Philip. Also I would suggest that you check out Bury Market’s website to see how a well run Market can play a wonderful role in a small(ish) town in 2015. Nice piece of conflating to bracket Markets with other Historic features, but the parallel is not good.
Believe me, I don’t have a problem with markets … I love them! I have a problem with scruffy outdated dull markets – and when I say that, I’m not just referring to the building, I’m referring to the tat that’s sold on them as well!
If markets don’t draw customers in, it’s because they’re not selling what the customers want any more. People have gone beyond stalls full of pick’n’mix, (REMOVED). The markets that are successful these days are places like Borough Market in London. Markets that offer something new and different and that can genuinely compete with the stores around them.
Borough Market is under a railway line, it’s dark, noisy and some parts are still very scruffy – in many ways a “typical” market so it has every excuse to be a failure – but it’s packed with people all through the week and especially on the weekend. And that’s down to the sellers and what the sellers choose to sell. Sell tat, and you’ll get tat customers – sell a quality product and you’ll get quality customers who want to visit you and will keep coming back!August 27, 2015 at 6:52 pm #99151
Come on Philip, do you really think it’s a fair comparitive, Wrexham and the London Bridge area?
The demographic is more than just a bit different.
Why not go the whole hog with Leadenhall Market or Hatton Garden?August 27, 2015 at 8:52 pm #99152
Philip wrote “If the markets can’t keep up, instead of complaining about other businesses and implying that it’s the customers’ fault for not choosing to shop with them, think about what they’re actually offering. Are they offering a viable alternative to the places the customers do choose to shop? If not, then that’s why the customers are going elsewhere! ”
I suspect that you’ve wandered into a debate that isn’t occurring Philip. Whilst I have no doubt that there are traders who do spout off this kind of nonsense, this isn’t what we are talking about here. This discussion is really about
Firstly; do we in principle support the idea of having viable Markets in the town and a viable Independent sector.
If the answer to this question is yes, let’s evaluate the forces and factors that are preventing this from being the case.
I have NO doubt that our Markets as constituted are crap. They are. Bury on the other hand have excellent Markets. To have excellent Markets is not Rocket Science. Those who are charged with running the Markets, as in Bury, must adjust the conditions in play to achieve this result. I’ll give you three reasons why the Peoples Market, for example, is crap:
(i). For years, Rent take has been good but not reinvested. Now the Rent take has dropped…like a stone
(ii).The Markets in Wrexham have used the Covenant system which has prevented competition. This restraint of competition has not shaken out of the Markets the inefficient and ineffective.
(iii).Rents in the Peoples Market are higher than comparables in the town. Consequently, those like myself have moved
Rather than attend to these matters, WCBC is now poised to abandon the Peoples Market, reconfigure the whole with an Arts Hub and transform the offer that the town makes.
This is the backward move.August 27, 2015 at 10:27 pm #99157
The only reason Eagles Meadow is successful must be because it’s offering what customers want.
I missed the announcement that Eagles Meadow is successful.August 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm #99186
As is common in forum discussions, I’ve probably come over a bit too strongly in one camp, when in reality I’m far more in the middle and can understand where everyone is coming from. I do see a lot of complaints across the forums about the effect new builds have on the old town – from both customers and business people alike. And it does feed directly into this discussion as well. The running of the markets is intrinsically linked with the planning and running of the town as a whole – the studies you’ve mentioned highlight that it has to be a whole-town approach, so you can’t discuss the issue of the markets without discussing the conflicting opinions about the town centre planning as a whole. I still genuinely believe it’s not the buildings themselves that attract the customers, it’s what the businesses in them do with them – sell the right things at the right price, even in an old shop or market in town, and you’ll get the customers.
So then, if that’s what attracts the customers, what attracts/repels the businesses to certain parts of town?
The market that I feel really has the problem is the People’s Market, and while there is much the council could do to improve that market, I do think a large part of the problem is the current stalls themselves. I walked through the Butchers Market today (I used Borough Market as an example before just because I visited it recently and it was fresh in my mind, but lets go with a local example!) and it was noticeable that the arcades have a range of unique and independent stores offering interesting products, the market itself has specialist stalls that are nicely presented and it appeared to be busy with queues at a number of the counters waiting to be served. Good businesses attract other good businesses, I’d rather open an independent book shop next to a busy, successful independent cafe than next to a badly presented second-hand furniture store.
I can’t believe the terms under which the council offers stalls in the Butchers Market are vastly different from the terms under which it offers stalls in the People’s Market, so while the running of the markets is most definitely part of the problem, there has got to be something else going wrong in the People’s Market as well.
I realise the council could do a lot more to improve and promote the markets, I’m not saying they couldn’t, but I am also of the opinion that there is a lot more the individual stall-holders could do for themselves. I run a small business in Wrexham, I can’t just wait for the council to promote me or to pay for my advertising, I have to include in my budget and business plan my own advertising, growth and promotion budget and I’m ultimately responsible for the success or failure of my business.
If the stallholders in the Butchers Market can manage it, then what is going wrong at the People’s Market? Are the stalls selling the right things to attract the customers? Are they presenting what they do sell in the best possible light? Is there more that the stallholders in that particular market could do to help themselves – not instead of, but in addition to what the council very rightly should be doing as well?August 28, 2015 at 6:51 pm #99193
You’re still missing the point of the discussion here Philip. To explain a bit more. I came into the Peoples Market in 2006. Pretty much every stall was filled. I was, however, surprised to see my rent…which was set at over £500.00 per month for one stall. I did find the Council flexible when it came to expansion, however, and was able to secure a deal on 3 stalls that saw me pay over £1300.00 per month. All around me there was a variety of stalls covering most areas. There were Covenants to prevent competition. There was little visible evidence of reinvestment in the décor and infra-structure and the Management of the place was clearly deficient. The Market retained a relatively full position until the triple whammy came after April 2008. Crash, Eagles Meadow and, later the closure of T J Hughes. These occurrences were set against other matters like the rise of the Internet and changing shopping habits.
Most Market traders assumed that the Council would have to get their act together if the Peoples Market was to withstand the pressure. They failed to respond and little tangible was done…..at first. I witnessed succession of traders leave the Market…..and yes, you are correct, many of them were poor in the first place. I moved…firstly to a shop in the South Arcade…..and then to Bank Street. For me, the move was based on my perception of what WCBC were doing with the Market…..as in nothing. My rent inside the Market itself was nearly twice what I am now paying in Bank Street and my rent in a smallish shop in the South Arcade was about £100.00 more per month than I now pay.
This debate shouldn’t be about Arts Hubs or Markets, it should be about reinvigorating the entire Entrepreneurial retail sector of the town. The Peoples Market would attract good traders if some of the following occurred:
Rents were competitive with rents available outside of the Market
The Markets were spruced up by those in charge of them….to make them fit for modern purpose
The design of the Market stalls was brought into the modern era
The Covenant system was abandoned so that competition could prevail and weaker traders selling tack were driven out of the market equation
The Markets were rebranded, reconfigured and marketed properly
Proactive management was the order of the day
A car parking reimbursement scheme and similar was introduced
Signage and other logistical issues (including credit card hubs) were improved
That is why I say to you…have a look at Bury…..I’m sure that using a template for success in a town of comparable proportions is not beyond usAugust 29, 2015 at 9:25 am #99198
Philip Osborne said: “If markets don’t draw customers in, it’s because they’re not selling what the customers want any more. People have gone beyond stalls full of pick’n’mix, (REMOVED). The markets that are successful these days are places like Borough Market in London. Markets that offer something new and different and that can genuinely compete with the stores around them”
I appreciate reading through your entries, Philip, that you have provided a much more rounded observation than this but, having talked to a Peoples Market trader this morning, I thought that I would pull you up for your choice of words (which I think you have used to take the discussion off in a bad direction at times).
The Peoples Market, we know, has its defects……but it is not Mostyn Market circa 1990 and the traders who operate therein are legitimate small scale Entrepreneurs, like myself. It is full of hard working aspirational people. They also know that their Market is in poor working order. They have beaten the drum for years for WCBC to attend to many of the problems that you have noted in your writing. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to attract the type of “good” businesses that you describe…….and which we see in Bury……unless you create the proper conditions for trade. I would have loved to stay in the Market myself……but I am not going to pay through the nose for a space which I can avail myself of within the town.
To attract the type of traders that you are talking about will not be achieved by £10.00 per day lets but by offering quality Market traders favourable terms in a convivial environment in return for a proper Investment in a Market trading business. Whilst WCBC has to put in place the requisite décor, the traders will soon refurbish their space if they think it worth their while. The same logic, by the way, will apply if an Arts Hub comes to this area and sustainability will require more than the “Field of Dreams\” approach from WCBCSeptember 2, 2015 at 6:59 pm #99442
You’re part of the problem Alun, flogging nostalgia and vinyl when ‘ne fule no’, the people of Wrexham are crying out for somewhere to buy Quinoa, Bulgur Wheat and fair trade Tahini.September 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm #99443
You’re part of the problem Alun, flogging nostalgia and vinyl when ‘ne fule no’, the people of Wrexham are crying out for somewhere to buy Quinoa, Bulgur Wheat and fair trade Tahini.
Lets give Wrexham shoppers some credit….all three are already available in Wrexham at ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsburys & TESCO.
Maybe its not just a matter of items being on the doorstep, some like the trip away to exotic places like Bury, as much as being an excellent market – its a grand day out.
Some will enjoy travelling to our nearby cosmopolitan centre of excellence in the big city to revel in the classy ambiance of Chester using those little Scotch eggs with black pudding filling as an excuse to go and for a free coffee by flashing their Waitrose card, lovely !
TESCO is jumping on the vinyl bandwagon by becoming the first supermarket to carry LPs since the resurgence.
Yes some might like to drop Catfish & The Bottlemen into their trolley along with cat litter and Pampers but how much more ” cool ” to visit AlunH and have an informed chat about the latest scene ( oops, my apologies I thought I was writing for The Leader for a minute – Stay Beautiful! ).
I really believe there is a future for independent traders, people love markets – just has to be the right kind of markets. Not quite as eclectic as shopping for Bulgur Wheat etc but I would much rather buy my midget gems from the market than a supermarket – and they are cheaper (usually).
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