Buoyant Bury St Edmunds...
Bury St Edmunds has an ancient market with an enviable range of fine local produce and non-food stalls ranging from jewellery to engineering equipment. It has done pretty well through the recession and a business plan is in place to try to ensure it does even better.
The market has a long and colourful history dating back to the days of William the Conqueror. Today, the market comprises 70 - 90 stalls selling a wide range of products which snake through the Cornhill and Buttermarket area of the attractive old town every Wednesday and Saturday.
There are hot food vendors including hog roast, burgers and crêpes, and plenty of non-food businesses ranging from jewellery, cards and clothing to more unusual niche stalls such as motorcycle accessories and engineering equipment. On most market days the market is packed with locals, shoppers from across Suffolk and tourists who visit Bury for its history and architecture.
The Borough Council had wanted to outsource the Market, so in Spring 2010 it commissioned the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) to review the market and make recommendations for its future. Not surprisingly, NABMA discovered that the Market is an integral part of the retail offer of Bury St Edmunds as well as a tourist attraction in its own right. Among its main recommendations were that the Council should invest more time and money to promote this great asset.So a Business Development Officer for the Market was appointed in June 2011 to implement the recommendations, and a business plan was developed. Initiatives proposed include establishing a programme of special events to attract new shoppers, recruiting new traders with complementary lines and adopting a market shoppers charter. The Council launched a Market Forum in 2010 with Councillor Sara Mildmay White as chair, who has now been succeeded by Councillor Robert Everitt, with market traders and key stakeholders as members. It meets four times a year to discuss issues and new ideas.
With some stall holders trading for over 30 years and some relatively new holders who have been there for under a year there is a plethora of experience on the market but they all have the same message, that it is such a friendly environment with everyone supporting each other, as ultimately their goal is a mutual one. With the strong customer base, that return to the market week on week to sample the delights of locally sourced food and products, this is all part of the Bury St Edmund’s Market recipe for success.