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Ealing's first Town Hall market flops

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Many of the traders booked for Ealing Council’s pop-up market, packed up early on Saturday (13th April) complaining of a lack of publicity.

This first event was held outside Ealing Town Hall and organised jointly by Ealing Council’s Economic Regeneration Team and the Pop-Up-Emporium.

Meena Toor spoke to the traders about what went wrong:

Lee Wildridge, owner of Henry’s Coffee bar packs up his equipment quickly, he tells me : ''I’ve lowered my price and sold three biscuits maybe, a slice of cake. I’ve lost money today but that’s the gamble we’ve got to take today. A slice of cake is £1.25 and people have walked away.”

Lee has just got to the finals of a Dragon’s Den related competition to win a year’s mentoring with Deborah Meaden. He said “I live in Essex, got up at six and got here for eight, and I’ve had enough”. Lee leaves at 2.30pm, and he’s not the only one.

Duncan White, manager and cook at Spanish Style Street Food, based in Hampshire, explains “I’m very surprised how quiet it is, not many people at all. It’s doesn’t feel like a Saturday”. His dish, Paella, is cooked on the spot “using fresh ingredients, authentic Spanish ingredients, and the meat is supplied by a local butcher”. Less than half of his large steel pan has been sold and the other stands unused. He has said ‘No’ to attend again, based on the day, which he has called a “write off”.

It started off sunny, but quickly turned and gave traders and customers biting wind and heavy rain in the late afternoon. One trader, Aku Elizabeth Allotey, thought this this to be the main reason one stall holder left at midday, just two hours into trading. The weather also caused trouble for traders near the road, which had stand displays and products blown out the back of their open tent and clear across the road.

Aku creates 100% organic skin care products, and in her experience, the day’s trading had been successful, with enough products sold to justify the cost of coming from her home in Kennington. Aku says “imagine if everyone knows about it and the weather was good, everyone would come”.

For Rania Masri, owner of the Cake Fairy, the day has been a great opportunity to spread the word on her work: “if I give some business cards out and I get some orders from it, then it’s worth it for me”.

Both ladies touch on the issue of promotion, voiced as the event’s major failing.

Jayne Kelly, owner of Loving Chocolates, was surprised at the lack of visible promotion, “When I came in last Sunday, I didn’t see any signs up so I was like does anyone really know it’s happening?”. Even more recently, the basic promotion was missing “On the council website, it wasn’t listed on there, because I just checked yesterday.”

Sam Adaci, owner of Falafel Co., has a similar experience, “I went on the website yesterday and I clicked ‘Events’ and I don’t think I saw anything on there.”

Even visitors complained about the lack of publicity. Alison Forster and her partner found “you couldn’t really see it was today, the poster was all blown back; near the church, but it’s not secured very well. Basically, it’s not particularly obvious that this is here.”

Amid speculation by traders that Ealing’s residents were not interested in a food and craft market, the response from Alison was favourable: “It’s one of those things – it has to grow by word of mouth. It would be great on a Saturday afternoon to walk down and have something to eat.”

In the morning there were 20 stalls but by afternoon just half were left.

The event planning began before Christmas in a partnership between Ealing Council and Lee Wilson, owner of Pop-Up-Emporium. She confirms that “I’ve made the contacts a little late. I linked up with Mums in Ealing, coffee shop mums and the NCT and all the rest of it to appeal to the makers, bakers and creative people. Quite good response but a little bit too late.”
“I’m a big tweeter and social media fan, that’s how I sort of balance my business”, and what would help is “the general public being a little more aware.''

Participants thought the location was challenging as it was far away from visitor activity.

Lee, of Henry’s Coffee Bar, said it was “too much of an open area, a side street would be better”. Jayne, of Loving Chocolates, suggests that the “ideal location [is]where those stores are in Ealing Broadway Shopping Center, where you go upstairs to the library and the car park”, while Sam of Falafel company noticed the action and footfall around by the station.

The car park in Perceval House, was seen as an inconvenient distance, with no access for traders to pull up to the side of the pavement with the bus lane in operation. Sam reported that this was “quite a walk for us with all of the stuff” and after appealing to the Regeneration team members Duncan was given some steel cages to transfer his large equipment back to his van. Lee of Henry’s Coffee Bar, complained that the management team “underestimated my van size, even when I told them.”

When the traders' issues were passed on to Lee, the organiser, her response was that “people will always complain and you have to let it roll over your head. She adds that “there were some stalls there that I wouldn’t necessarily bring in again. There were a couple that weren’t edgy enough”.

Ealing Regeneration Project Officer, Lemuel Dickie-Johnson, said that the event was a “trial” and suggested that “bigger tents, smaller kiosks” would allow more to be on offer. He admitted that the event “needs more promotion” but said that the event could work.

He maintained that traders were happy and wanted to come back to the next one. When told that some would not wish to, he replied ''this is just a learning curve. We’re going to see what mistakes we’ve made and what we can learn from it.”

“The people that really liked it are the really more organic handmade sort of uprooter, market uprooters, market traders. I think that’s what will work here. I think the people that wouldn’t like it were the ones that wouldn’t work so well here and the ones that left early.”

There are hopes that this event will become a monthly occurrence and it may move to another location.

Lemuel says the mission of the Regeneration Team is to make Ealing “more attractive so that we make it welcoming, more attractive so people come down and encourage footfall, encourage business and make Ealing the place to come… where people want to be.”


© Meena Toor 2013

A council spokesperson told Ealing Today: '' "It was agreed that publicity for The Pop-Up Market would be managed by the event organiser, and the council provided support by putting up posters in central Ealing, as well as publicising the event on social media."

"This was the first time a pop-up market was held outside the town hall and information and feedback gathered on the day will now be used by the council to shape a borough-wide strategy to encourage more markets into town centres."


Did you know about the market? Did you go? Why wasn't it a success? Discuss on the forum




17th April 2013

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