Traders appeal over Doncaster's 'forgotten' market
It is two years since they moved into Doncaster’s Goose Hill Market.
But many of those businesses who re-located there from the old Wool Market say trade has still not returned to the levels that they saw when they switched.
Businesses at the site believe former customers are not aware of where they have gone, and that a large chunk of the public are not aware that their indoor section of the market, next to the fish market, exists.
A number of businesses were relocated to the site, which is attached to the back of the Corn Exchange, when work started to revamp the Wool Market.
The Wool Market subsequently re-opened at the end of March this year, with a new image and an entertainment stage, part of a plan to boost the market. Those that were moved out were not able to return to their previous pitches.
Some of those who left say many of their customers have yet to return. But they believe that their new location could be a real find for shoppers with a variety of goods that they feel cannot be found by shoppers elsewhere.
Among those who moved to Goose Hill two years ago is Babs Harley, a long standing trader who has been on Doncaster’s markets for 20 years, selling baby clothes from her stall, Roy’s Babywear.
She said: “There is more to the markets than just the Wool Market, and I think we are something of a forgotten corner. But if you look here, apart from us, we’ve got a lovely greetings cards stall, we’ve got a jewellers, and a fragrance stall. We have someone selling handbags, pets items, household items, and even hemp.
“There is a lot of variety, but I just don’t think people realise we’re here. I think you get a good one to one service on the market that you don’t get at a chain store, and I think we have products that they don’t have. The problem is no-one knows this as Goose Hill Market, they think it’s the fish market. We’re Doncaster’s best kept secret.”
Paul Groves is a relative newcomer, having been at the market for two years with his Jacksons art and crafts stall. He also moved over from the Wool Market.
He said: “People just seem to come here for their fish. There are arguments on social media about whether it’s the fish market or Goose Hill. but there are so many stalls here that would make for great stocking fillers for people.”
Delia Crowder brought her shoe stall across from the Wool Market, where she regarded her Delia’s Footwear stall as well-established.
“When the Wool Market closed we thought people would find us here, but I think a lot didn’t,” she said. “Last weekend I had someone come to us and say they used to buy what we were selling at the Wool Market. It was from me, two years ago. We just want people to know we’re here.”
She said it felt like a lot was done to promote the re-vamped Wool Market, but not much to promote the Goose Hill Market.
Emma Forbes, business development manager at Market Asset Management, which runs Doncaster’s markets said one issue had been a lack of external signage around the entrances, meaning a lot of people walked past without going into the buildings. She said it was featured on the market social media page.
She said distinct brands for each area of the market – International Food Hall, Fish Market, Goose Hill, Corn Exchange, Lock Ups and Wool Market – had been developed, each with the same theme, and there were now branded pedestrian barriers around doorways at the International Food Hall, Corn Exchange and Wool Market to signpost entrances which can seem quite hidden.
She said: “Goose Hill is fronted by a large number of gates rather than doorway entrances, so we spent the majority of the signage costs on putting colourful full banners on each of the 28 gates on the front, giving it a much more inviting look.
“According to former council staff and traders, Christmas decorations in Goose Hill in the past have blown down on a daily basis, so is not suitable for freestanding items. As such we have put in place rustic pallet Christmas trees along the back wall and invested in festoon lighting which has been strung along the aisles, making Goose Hill appear brighter and more festive, with the aim of drawing down footfall from the Fish Market area which can be much busier.”
She added: “Unfortunately, the way Goose Hill is laid out makes it difficult to hold big events, but we have been working with Visit Doncaster to hold Christmas events (Storytime with Santa, Mrs Clause's Kitchen etc which have been very well received) in the International Food Hall open space directly behind Goose Hill to encourage footfall through the retail stalls.”