MARKET traders are hoping a fresh vision will bring back the glory days.
They were speaking as part of the Love Your Local Market campaign, which is running nationwide.
In St Helens, both St Mary’s indoor market and Earlestown market are being promoted at a time when St Helens Council is trying to deliver ideas that will give them new impetus.
Traditional markets have faced competition from budget stores and changing shopping habits but varied stalls at St Mary’s still offer local produce, everyday essentials and specialised items.
Natasha Shields, who runs Tiny Toes babywear at St Mary’s market, explained how, as a 19-year-old, she started up with £200 and now, at 22, she can supply anything ‘from socks to cots’.
She said: “Business is getting better and has improved over the two years I’ve been here.
“We are trying to get the market back to how it used to be, and the varied events held here now are adding to the flavour. Customers enter as strangers and leave as friends.”
Market cafe owner Sonny Oluyombo, from Prescot, has been in business there for more than 10 years.
He said: “You can’t walk into Tesco or Asda and get the variety of goods we have here.
“Each stall is specialised and the prices are competitive.
“We can adapt immediately and offer goods people want. We provide a personal touch.
“It’s a challenging situation for traders, but it’s not doom and gloom.
“It’s no worse for us than any other business in St Helens and we are trying our best.”
After 28 years trading in the town, Rakesh Vij from Rainhill admits he has to sell a lot of bags just to cover the overheads.
“The market has been neglected but, hopefully, with the improvements being introduced, it will bring back the customers.”
At Earlestown, the market tradition dates back 700 years and Earlestown Friday market – next to the town hall – attracts stallholders from across the region, with more than 150 stalls offering everything from pies to protective clothing.