Is anybody there?
Does anybody know about the Bishop's Stortford Farmer's Markets that are run by East Herts Council?
Do you know it's on North Street, the first Saturday of the month?
Do you wander round the stalls, looking at the artisan goodies?
I hope you have seen the small signs along the road towards Stortford once a month, plus those along the railings that run the length of the road by Castle Gardens. But are they really doing a good enough job to entice people to come and have a look at the Farmer's Market?
I have had 2 stalls at the Farmer's Market now; the first was at the beginning of March, just as people were being told to wash their hands more and the rush on hand sanitiser was causing panic. Quite a few people were out and about, but other market traders told me it was quiet. Really quiet. Despite the sun shining and all the shops being open.
The second stall was at September's market. The weather was warm and sunny, all the traders had been told to put risk assessment plans together and create signs telling people not to get too close to each othe
r, not to crowd the stall and how to queue 2m apart (like we hadn't already had months of being told how to do all that!). It was even quieter this time - fewer stalls, less people and barely even a glance from the people who did walk past.
So, what's it all about?
Other stall holders bemoaned the fact that Bill's wasn't open, therefore the Saturday breakfast/brunch lovers weren't being attracted to that side of town. Then again, people who had walked along South Street told me that there were less people around in general. Even the usual Saturday market stall traders were noticing the difference. But, was it because of coronavirus, social distancing, everyone having stayed at home for 6 months? Or is it because it's barely even advertised?
Unfortunately, I didn't do very well at either of those markets. I didn't take enough money to break even, after paying for the pitch and gazebo rental.
Fingers crossed that, when all this coronavirus hoo-ha is over, things can get back to normal. People will feel safer when leaving their houses, be happy to wander around and browse, and, hopefully, head more towards North Street on the first Saturday of the month.
Also, my toes are crossed that the market co-ordinator will look into better, more effective and efficient ways of advertising, to make sure people realise the market is there at all.
Come on folks, support local, support handmade and, most importantly, support our market town!