Passionate traders behind one of the region’s best loved and well used markets are confident that they can remain one of Morley’s biggest assets.
Morley Market, an indoor market in Queen Street, has been the heartbeat of the town for over a century but despite being almost full with traders, the recession is starting to bite.
A lull in visitors has seen some of the market’s 50 or so traders start to evaluate the future of their businesses.
Some blame the recent reshuffle of its layout, after 10 traders were moved to other units as new walkways and shops were built to accommodate a Ladbrokes bookmakers.
Fishmonger David Bentley, 48, who is the third generation to take charge of F Bentley and Son, said: “A lot of the people who use the markets are the older end – they get confused and change upsets them.”
He said his wife had to get a job elsewhere after the new layout pulled away custom.
David, whose business was established in 1947, said: “It is worrying times in all honesty, it is nice to be optimistic and think things will turn around but my biggest bugbear is that Morley is becoming a park-and-ride place for Leeds.”
But market stalwart of 29 years Charlie Lillywhite, 49, owner of Charlie’s Joint butchers, feels the lull will pass.
He said: “I have experienced this kind of lull before and you get through it, everyone’s just a bit more careful with their money. I remember 17 years ago when I first bought the shop for myself, most of the market traders said I wouldn’t last two months and we’ve done alright.”
But some traders are benefiting from the economic climate.
Ronnie Curlett, of Morley Cobblers, said: “If anything I’ve got slightly busier because rather than people buying new shoes they are coming here and repairing old ones.”
But the message from traders is clear – to avoid the loss of Morley Market’s traditions of personality and value, the market must be made the most of.
Michael Pugh, who runs Lucy’s Deli, said: “We put more care and effort into it, you get a better deal with us.
“We are still quite well supported but saying that, people need to use the markets as they will lose them eventually if they don’t.”
Morley-born Richard Day, who has run Day 2 Day Electrical in the market for eight years, added: “They are all like family businesses in here, people get to know you and if you give a good service they will always come back.”
Between 98 and 100 per cent of the market’s units have been full over the last five years.
Market manager Dave Wilson said: “We are giving everyone the best opportunity to go forward with their business, when we take on someone new we are a bit selective.”
For details, visit: www.townandcountrymarkets.co.uk