THIS coming weekend will see Birkenhead Market transformed into a festival of fun in conjunction with Love Your Local Market.
Now in its third year, the national campaign celebrates the important role markets play in communities and town centres.
It aims to attract new people to take up market trading and boost the number of people visiting them, increasing football and generating economic activity.
Organised by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) and the Government, the two week campaign - running from May 14 to 28 – offers markets and traders the tools needed to improve operations in the tough economic climate.
Birkenhead Market has been participating in the campaign since its inception in 2012, beginning with a series of Mary Portas television programmes which highlighted the benefits of local markets.
More than 700 markets throughout the country will be taking part this year but Birkenhead Market director Danny Doyle hopes that if successful, it will become a more regular event in the town.
“We’re planning on doing it three times a year, in the spring, one in the autumn and one at Christmas,” said Danny, who has organised the weekend’s activities alongside the traders, rather than for them.
“It is about the market coming together. It’s about getting people here who perhaps haven’t been for a long time, getting the kids here and showing how vibrant we are.”
On May 16 and 17, there will be extra special offers at Birkenhead Market and attractions for all the family.
Bouncy castles, face painting, food sampling and balloon modelling will be complemented by a psychic fair, complete with tarot card readings, mediumship, palmistry, Reiki and crystal healing.
A party photo booth will give visitors the chance to relive days gone by while family favourites Peppa Pig, George and Mickey and Minnie Mouse will also be paying a visit.
Local teachers will be dropping by for story telling with a twist, while the weekend’s main attraction is what has been dubbed Wirral’s biggest ever raffle – offering hundreds of prizes drawn out by TV’s Gogglebox star – Vivien Woerdenweber.
“Each customer will be given a free raffle ticket and the chance to win some excellent prizes,” added Danny.
More than 1,000 new market traders will be starting up new business ventures during the Love Your Local Market fortnight and supporting your local market will give them an even better chance to succeed.
Graham Wilson OBE, chief executive of the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA).
Graham Wilson OBE, chief executive of NABMA, said: “Love Your Local Market is the biggest market event in a generation.
“It gives people the chance of a new career and demonstrates how important the market is to the local community.
“With the financial backing of the government and our headline sponsor HMY Radford, we intend to make Love Your Local Market 2014 once again the biggest and bests markets campaign the UK has ever seen.”
Not only does Birkenhead Market offer everyday staples to the weird and wonderful, it also offers a vibrancy and community spirit that internet and out-of-town retail centres cannot.
Dawn Corby, from Polly's sweet shop. Photo by Stuart Bogg Imaging.
THERE was a time when your local market would be your one and only stop for all things great and small.
Although shopping habits have changed with the rise of online shopping and competitive high street retailers, local markets continue to thrive and in Birkenhead, the market is well and truly at the heart of the town.
Birkenhead Market nestles in the centre of the town and offers the best of both worlds with its spacious modern shopping hall and the friendly bustling traditional outdoor market, offering bargains and a great deal of variety.
Originally located on the site of the town hall, there has been a market in Birkenhead since 1835 and it still remains one of the town’s biggest employers to this day.
With more than 350 indoor and outdoor stalls, Birkenhead Market is home to nationally acclaimed fishmongers, butchers, hairdressers and cafes.
Stalls passed down the generations boast colourful displays of sweets, fruit and vegetables, clothing, pet goods and even nutritional supplements.
Outside you will find the traditional flea market, stalls bursting with undergarments, rugs, collectable items and more handbags than any woman could ever possibly need.
Birkenhead Market is a place that once you take the time to look around, is filled with hidden treasures and some of the most down to earth people you could meet.
Colourful displays of fruit and vegetables are complemented by racks of clothing and fresh fish.
Although traders have retained the essence of Birkenhead, a great deal of attention has been paid to the appearance and service offered, resulting in a constant improvement programme which is clear to see.
Market director Danny Doyle, who took over the ownership of the market from Wirral Council in 2003, says the key to a successful market is ensuring you get the perfect mix of produce and people and Birkenhead Market does just that, offering everything from 50p sweets right up to classic train sets worth hundreds of pounds.
As well as offering a vibrant array of choice for consumers, markets also act as a stepping stone for many young entrepreneurs.
“The market is the biggest employer in the town and we have a lot of stall holders who are second and third generation,” explained Danny, who worked as a market trader himself for 30 years.
“Markets are extremely important and are great for experience – they are the bottom rung of the ladder.
“If you wanted to open a clothing shop you wouldn’t go into the precinct as they wouldn’t want to know you, you don’t have the experience.
“And if you did manage to get a unit, you would be tied into a three, five or six year lease and that is what kills a lot of businesses.”
As well as giving people the opportunity to go into business, markets also offer vital life skills to people which can be applied in all walks of life.
Danny added: “A lot of the larger businesses in the UK started on markets, like Marks & Spencer and Matalan.
“When I was a market trader my children would work in the stock rooms and now they say the grounding they received from that market stall has applied going into board room meetings.
“The principals are the same and markets are a great grounding for anybody.”
Birkenhead Market is home to nationally acclaimed fishmongers and butchers. Photo by Stuart Bogg Imaging.
Danny is so passionate about the skills and dedication gained from market trading that he hopes to introduce a youth market in August, which will give youngsters the chance to take on a stall free of charge to swap and sell items.
“If markets fall by the wayside, the bottom rung of the ladder is gone and there is no way for people to get started – that’s why they are so important,” said Danny.
“They also keep the local economy going. If you go into a supermarket and spend £50, that goes to Hemmel Hempstead and you never see it again.
“But if you go to a market and spend that £50, the woman on the stall will use it to take her shoes to the cobbler, or he will use it to take his girlfriend out to a restaurant – it keeps the money in the area for longer.”
Times are hard for market traders but Danny is convinced that things are changing and positive times are on the horizon.
Trevor Goodwin, of T-Nutrition is one of the market's best success stories. Photo by Stuart Bogg Imaging.
Trevor first opened the sports nutrition shop in a single unit on the market in 2010 and has gone on to take up no less than four units, with more plans to expand in the woodwork.
He is just one of many traders who believes in the market and the traditional values it stands for.
COME AND MEET WIRRAL'S GOOGLEBOX STARS: Vivien Woerdeweber, who stars in Channel 4's hit reality show, will be drawing the raffle along with her family.
BIRKENHEAD Market’s Love Your Local Market festival promises to be home to Wirral’s biggest ever raffle, drawn out by Gogglebox’s very own Woerdenwebers.
Vivien – who stars on the Channel 4 reality show alongside husband Ralf, daughter Eve and her boyfriend Jay – spends her day running Birkenhead market-based family business, Twilight – a shop stocking everything from incense oils to dragons, fairies and gothic items.
After playing a crucial role in the organisation of this weekend’s events, Vivien and co have agreed to draw out the winning tickets in Saturday’s raffle.
Vivien, who has been running Twilight from Birkenhead market for 14 years, told the Globe she feels local markets are an important part of the community.
Eve, Jay, Viv and Ralf are stars of Channel 4's Gogglebox.
She said: “When we first started at this market you couldn’t move, it was absolutely heaving.
“You couldn’t get a stall here – they were like hold dust – but I think it’s somewhere that has something for everybody.
“From being small I came to the market, I went to the old market as whatever you need, you can get it at the market.
“I came down here and bought all of my clothes as a teenager – everyone went to the market.
“You could get nice stuff, you could get things a lot cheaper.
“Supermarkets have come along and changed that a lot now which is one of the problems as you can get things in one place now but the market is really a place where everybody can shop – it’s something for the community.”
As well as drawing out the prizes for the raffle, Vivien has also organised the psychic fair and will be conducting tarot readings with daughter Eve.
If you would like to meet the Woerdenwebers and have a chance of winning in Wirral’s biggest ever raffle, support your local market and get down there with your family and friends on May 16 and 17.
For more information, visit loveyourlocalmarket.org.uk