I had a blazing row with a Morpeth shopkeeper in the Market Place on Saturday - and I really ought to apologise to him.
We've switched the Morpeth Farmers' Market from the 1st Sunday in the month to the 1st Saturday in the month - and last Saturday was the first one. We switched because:
i) the Town Hall isn't available at least till Christmas - and one of the main reasons for having the market on a Sunday was because we had use of the Town Hall
ii) customers have been asking us why the market isn't on a Saturday since we started
iii) a survey in Gateway magazine in the spring showed a significant demand to switch to a Saturday
iv) we've been losing traders over the past 15 months - producers don't want to work on Sundays, or they've been attracted away to the Sunday Quayside Market. And - as far as I know - the nearest markets on the 1st Saturday are Barnard Castle and Edinburgh
So - we'd discussed switching at the Markets Partnership, with Chamber of Trade reps enthusiastic about the idea, recognising that a successful market will bring people into Morpeth - and it's better to do that when the shops are open!
We had hoped to tell everyone at the Sept Market - but that was cancelled - so it was a scramble to get the message out. My apologies to anyone who turned up on Sunday looking for the market!
Anyway - the gist of the shopkeeper's argument was that the market represented unfair competition for local butchers and greengrocers who depend heavily on Saturday trade. I still believe that a farmers' market once a month on a Saturday will bring more people into Morpeth and increase trade - and increase demand for local produce which local shopkeepers can supply the rest of the month.