Ormskirk Market is one of the best street markets in the North West and West Lancashire Borough Council is working with traders to make sure it has a bright future.
Across the UK, outdoor markets continue to be under pressure from changes in shopping habits which have had a significant impact upon the high street. Council staff, Ormskirk's market traders and the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) have been closely involved in developing new market arrangements. These seek to address the challenges brought upon by the changing times.
Many existing Ormskirk market traders currently set up their own stalls on the market whilst others who work off the WLBC traditional stalls also have their own stalls which they erect on other markets they attend. By asking our traders to set up their own stalls we have been able to reduce all permanent traders' overall annual rental charges. On top of this we can offer them up to three free months of trading between January-March inclusive to help them through the difficult time after Christmas. This is something traders have been requesting and has therefore been a change welcomed by them. We are also looking to provide storage for traders' stalls if they will struggle to bring them in their vehicles. It is normal practice these days for market traders to set up their own stalls in many street markets across the UK, such as in Skipton (awarded Best Small Outdoor Market of the Year in 2019 by the National Association for British Market Authorities) and Lancaster.
These measures are designed to ensure the market's continued success and will be combined with efforts to find a wider range of traders to complement our current much valued traders and also at the same time answering the call from customers for such provision. Our intention is to very much grow the market and enhance the quality and variety of products on offer, which will be underpinned by the new improved trading terms being offered to traders. Council staff will continue to promote the market further afield to bring in more visitors and also look to develop a unique "brand identity" for the market.
A number of traders are being very positive about the changes.
Lisa Brown, who runs That Veggie Place, said: "It’s brilliant Ormskirk is preserving its heritage as a market town and I personally think all the different gazebos looked brilliant at the Christmas of tales and gingerbread festival events.
"I love trading on the Ormskirk market as it's got such a great community spirit. I may only be a sole trader but don’t feel alone as all fellow traders are very helpful and honestly want to provide customers and passers-by with the best customer service experience."
Gary Sutton, who runs the ladies clothing stall outside The Old Post Office, said: "I know if the market stayed the same it wouldn’t be here in years to come. I get a lot of people coming to my stall saying they wish they had a market like this. We can’t live in the past, we can only live in the future."
Neil Thompson, who runs Thompson's Bakery stall on Moor Street, added: "I think it will be good if everyone brings their own gazebos it will look more colourful and even more professional. I do other markets and bring my own gazebo. The market is moving with the times."
Councillor David Evans, whose Cabinet responsibilities include Ormskirk Market, said: "Ormskirk Market is extremely important for local people and the Council shares their passion for preserving and enhancing one of the Borough's prize assets. We are constantly seeking to modernise the market while maintaining our investment and continue to work with traders to address any concerns they may have."