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Tented love.. for Swindon's indoor market
TRADERS at Swindon’s tented market say business is booming three years on from its relaunch.
Yams imported from Ghana, rare vinyl from the 1960s and jerk fish toasted wraps are among the more unusual offerings which have tempted shoppers through the doors.
The market, off Commercial Road, was established in 1892 and is the oldest in Swindon.
The distinctive design, with a series of steel-framed domes resembling a fairground, was constructed in 1994. The market relaunched after a two-year shut-down in October 2009 amid warnings that the business plan was flawed and it was doomed to fail.
But while most traders agree there has been a lack of promotion of the area, they say this is offset by the low rates and location at the western edge of the town’s shopping district.
Ashok Mistry, of Egg-e-licious, said: “A lot of people thought the market would fold in 18 months, but three years on and business is booming. Although people knock the market it’s a good place to start a business up if you take up a small unit and try it for six months. I would recommend it to anyone who has a fresh idea which is something that people want. “ Karl Edwards, of Computer Wizard, used to run his business from his living room but opened up 18 months ago after wandering around the market.
He said: “I always wanted a shop but I could never afford the rents. I walked in one day and saw the adverts up for six-week trials. I haven’t looked back since. My plan is to open up in a bigger unit with linked computers that people can come in and play games on.”
Kofi Acheampong, of Koma Afro-Mini Mart, opened up the only dedicated African produce shop in Swindon six weeks ago.
He said: “It’s a good place to start as a small trader because it would cost too much to open in the town centre. I want to build on this and open a bigger shop, and I hope and pray that things move from here.”
Derek Butler has been pleased with the trade at his music shop, called Blood On The Tracks.
He said: “We’ve been open four months and had very good feedback.
“We have thousands of CDs and people like the way they are ordered, with vinyl being very popular too. We’ve had lots of passing trade and it’s been brilliant. We don’t feel like a market stall, we feel like a shop.”
Other new start-ups include Gold Buyer, run by Jerry Tortorici, who said he was making the most of his shop opening up on two sides – the inside of the market and the street outside.
Established traders include Steve Hollister, of thelittlerockshop.co.uk, who started up in 1994.
“This has given the small traders a great opportunity to set up their businesses and to expand,” he said. “The rents are quite cheap as opposed to somewhere like the Brunel Centre. It’s all different, but it’s all under roof.”
The market turns three today with Egg-e-licious planning to mark the occasion with a banoffee birthday cake.