Saturday afternoon, discovery of the open-air market of Preston
Over the past two weeks we’ve taken a closer look at Preston Markets, talking to local traders and shoppers to find out what they like about their local market. This week we’re taking a trip to the open-air market in Preston and next week in the latest episode we’ll be exploring the Box Market.
Beneath the restored market canopy is Preston’s open-air market. The outdoor market trades on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with a flea market on Tuesday. Traders sell a variety of items ranging from books to clothes, flowers to fabrics, and cards to candles. On Saturdays, the market is buzzing. It’s a great place to visit, browse and chat with traders while shopping.
Julia McManus has been shopping in Preston Market for years, buying flowers for her garden from the flower stall in the open-air market and food from the market hall.
“I find the flower stand so inspiring, every spring it brings me such happiness,” she said. “I like to browse and buy flowers from the knowledgeable gentleman. I like to see the flowers bloom.
John Alty, better known as Army John, sells military clothing and accessories to the outdoor market. The trader recently made headlines after donating 15 boxes of military uniforms, helmets and military paraphernalia to frontline Ukrainians.
Kath Jenkins has been running the outdoor fabric stand for 56 years. Her mother, Mary Donnelly, ran a fabric stall in Preston Markets before her. Kath has childhood memories of finishing school and being dropped off at the pit. Preston Market runs through her veins, she says. She retired once but came back because she enjoys interacting with her customers, many of whom have been visiting her stand for decades. Kath has served and come to know generations of families.
“I think Kath’s stand is the best,” Naz Patel said. “It’s cheap and the fabric is in perfect condition.”
Naz describes how families need to be careful right now, watching how they spend their money. She feels that some food stalls in the market hall are too expensive, “families are struggling, not everyone can afford the prices”.
Later, Kath explains that Preston has a rich history, having been granted a Merchant’s Guild charter in 1179, making it a market town. She thinks a little more could be done to preserve this history and support local traders. She points out that some of the people who used to come to shop at Preston Market no longer do so, citing various reasons; local services that used to draw people to the area, such as the post office which was located on Birley Street, have been relocated, parking restrictions prevent people from parking and easily accessing the market and the road network of the Preston center diverts traffic from the market. She also thinks that young people prefer to shop online. As we speak, a steady stream of customers approach Kath’s booth, to buy fabric and chat with Kath. It’s clear how much the locals love Kath and her stall.
Lynn Eastham manages the fragrance and gift stall at the outdoor market. Lynn previously had a stall upstairs in the Covered Market for two decades, before that she ran the Real Ale store and the Barrel of Laughs costume shop on Lovat Road, appearing in the fly on the wall documentary of the same name. Lynn really enjoys talking to customers, she has always worked in retail and believes that her customers love the personal touch, like gift wrapping. Lynn would like to see new traders encouraged to trade in the outside market.
“It’s possible to have pop-up stands along the back wall,” Lynn said. “The back wall is rarely used and I know my customers would love to see arts and crafts stalls along there under awnings. I have friends who make their own jewelry and crafts that would like to trade and it would provide some variety in the outside market.
“We also have to close on Fridays which is not helping the trade. I would like the opportunity to trade in the Preston market on a Friday. »
This sentiment was echoed by other traders in the outer market. Some lost trades and others started trading elsewhere on Friday when Friday trading did not resume in the outside market after the pandemic.
Pete Burns has run the Preston Outdoor Market Bookstand for 31 years. Over three decades of trading, he built up a good and loyal following, stocking thousands of books in a range of genres. He wants people to accompany him, discuss with him and tell him what they like to read.
“Interact with us, engage,” said Pete, who is keen to help customers find the book that’s right for them. “If you’re into romantic fiction, there’s a whole section, we stock a number of crime books, anything you can think of that we may have. We stock everything except educational texts and computer books. We have the classics, if you study them at school, college or university, come see us.
He thinks there are a number of reasons why the trade is not as buoyant as it once was.
“There are a number of road works around the city, you can’t help it, but it affects trade. We lost the market parking lot, people can’t drag a large crate of books to the bus station parking lot, which is the closest place to park.
Pete’s biggest pet peeve is the negativity on social media.
“Every time someone posts a picture of the old market on one of Facebook’s nostalgic groups, there’s a flood of negativity and it puts people off coming. You constantly have to fight it.
“Since COVID-19, we can no longer trade on Fridays. When the public goes on a Friday and does not see traders in the outside market, it reinforces their view.
Pete would like the people of Preston to support the market, “Buy local and keep the money in the community. Use it or lose it and save your money on postage by buying books online!
The Preston Open Air Market is open from 8am to 3pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. The flea market takes place on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The nearest short-term car park is located at Market surface car park.
Visit Lisa’s shop on Saturday afternoons at Preston Market and do some local shopping at the market.
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