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I've been asked to write a piece for a local newspaper on "market culture" - more people chosing to shop in markets rather than supermarkets.

Here in Scotland there appears to be little tradition of markets in recent times. Farmers' markets have taken off and indeed many small producers survive because of their success. Coming from England, I was used to local (mixed) markets and was suprised not to find their equivalent here.

I know I am asking the already converted, but do you think there is a move to market shopping in general or is it just well travelled people who love their food that are the buyers :biggrin: . My sense is that there is a shift, due to a combination of factors.

What do you think?

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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I think there is a shift but only by the more affluent. Farmer`s markets seem to be growing and growing here in south-east England but in my experience (a) produce is usually more expensive than supermarkets (or at least is perceived to be); (b) one day a month (possibly some are weekly) is not as convenient as dawn to mid-night opening hours; © parking is rarely free as it is in supermarkets.

If the UK can produce more fresh meat, fruit and vegetables at prices to compete with imports, then for sure I believe we will see a shift to the market type shopping seen in Paris suburbs.

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Here in Scotland there appears to be little tradition of markets in recent times. Farmers' markets have taken off and indeed many small producers survive because of their success.  Coming from England, I was used to local (mixed) markets and was suprised not to find their equivalent here.

I know I am asking the already converted, but do you think there is a move to market shopping in general or is it just well travelled people who love their food that are the buyers  :biggrin: . My sense is that there is a shift, due to a combination of factors.

What do you think?

The rise in farmers markets seems to me to have been accompanied by a decline in traditional markets (though i dont think there is a causal connection) . In London, the street markets I've used regularly over the last 20 yrs or so (lewisham, Deptford and Chapel st ) are all far less well provided with food stalls than they were 15 yrs or so ago. Even Berwick St has more stalls selling rubbish than it used to.

In Carmarthen, the market which used to be excellent for local produce 20 yrs ago , is now mainly acrylic clothes from Taiwan, dodgy antiques and tourist tat. The same is true of Swansea and Cardiff markets. Carmarthen still at least has Albert Rees (producer of Carmarthen Ham , much imitated by those chaps in Parma), a good cheese stall (run by a Dutch woman) and a decentish fishmonger, all selling good quality local produce , but its a pale reflection of what it was 20 yrs ago.

gethin

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I used to live on Depford High Street and shop at the market, its a shame to hear its going the way of so many others.

I have to add to that, the huge indoor markets in the centre of Liverpool and Wigan which I grew up with are now shadows of there former selves, the food sections shrinking and cheap shoes and clothes taking over.

In Wigan though, there is still a feeling of pride throughout the market stall holders who battle on against the huge supermarket that was built with its main doors opposite the market doors!

I haven't been to Leicester market for years now, but when I was a student it was a huge source of never heard of before ingrediants, and

cheap job lots at the end of the day!

All three of these markets are not marketed towards organic and farmer/producers, so they don't have the high end "luxury" stalls, but the tripe stalls are all still there (if you've got the stomach for it!!!!!!)

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I've been asked to write a piece for a local newspaper on "market culture" - more people chosing to shop in markets rather than supermarkets.

Here in Scotland there appears to be little tradition of markets in recent times. Farmers' markets have taken off and indeed many small producers survive because of their success.  Coming from England, I was used to local (mixed) markets and was suprised not to find their equivalent here.

I also live in Edinburgh. In my first weekend here I asked for a 'book of all the local markets and food shops' - obviously I was laughed at.

There obviously was a tradition of markets in Edinburgh, as there are the remains of a few here and there (there is a market - now a lock up storage place off Broughton St) and there are plenty of historical references to fisher women coming up from Leith, veg sellers around the High st. No idea when it all disapeared though.

I love markets, but welcome as weekly or monthly farmers markets are, if you can't do a complete daily (or thrice weekly) shop at a market then it isn't much use or even a real market.

One issue is opening times, I am sure that independent butchers/bakers/green grocers/ fishmongers would do much better if their opening times changed to reflect the reality of when people have time to shop.

Edited by Adam Balic (log)
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One issue is opening times, I am sure that independent butchers/bakers/green grocers/ fishmongers would do much better if their opening times changed to reflect the reality of when people have time to shop.

That's been my theory for a long time. I work 9am-5.30pm. If I get away from work sharp, then I can get to the butchers (Crombies) just before they close (at 6pm), but I've got no chance of getting to a fishmonger, with the result that I only have fish on a Saturday, if ever. In so many other countries the shops open later and close later, so you can do your shopping after work. In Edinburgh, the town centre can be deserted after 6pm - although I'm sure there was something in the Evening News recently that a number of shops (the likes of Harvery Nichols) were supporting an intiative to stay open later during the Festival - hopefully, if that is a success they'll extend it throughout the year and maybe, just maybe some of the food stores might stay open...

Anyway, back to markets: I'd like to shop in a market, but really struggle to get to the farmers market on a Saturday morning because I'm playing sport on Saturdays. I went to the Leith market a couple of times on a Sunday, but the range wasn't great and it's since died out due to wrangles over its site, which was a bit hidden away.

PS

Edinburgh

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I think opening times and peoples' work and home schedules have a huge effect in the choice of where to shop for food. I know it's why we sometimes end up at a supermarket when I'd rather be shopping at Borough or Northcote Road in London.

One thing that works well in some parts of France and Italy is that specialist shops (fishmongers, fruit and veg, butchers) open very early -- our butcher is regularly at work by 6:30 am and often earlier -- and close late, around 7:30 pm and sometimes later. They compensate for this by closing daily from around 12:30 or 1:00 pm to around 4:00 or 4:30 pm. They tend to close on one day of the week but stay open on Sunday morning.

Hence a notional schedule for a butcher or specialist shop in the south of France is

Monday, closed all day

Tuesday, open 7:30 am to 1 pm and 4:30 pm to 8 pm

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday ditto

Sunday, open 8:00 am to 1 pm

This may seem odd, but it's convenient. Offices and banks tend to be open roughly from 9 am to 5 pm, with a relatively short lunch break. So you can shop early in the morning and be done for the day, or stop at the end of the day.

Supermarkets tend to be open longer hours these days -- 8 am to 8 pm, often with no lunch break (the French word for this is "non-stop"). They will typically close either Monday or Sunday. Everything is closed Sunday afternoon.

In Britain, the supermarkets seem to be moving closer to the American "we never close" model; unless the specialist shops and markets can somehow adapt, it's hard to imagine the Tescobury's world domination plan (or at least UK domination) failing.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Jonathan - how far away from their shop do these specialist shop owners live? I can see how the long lunchtime closing works if they can pop back home for a meal/siesta. Harder to imagine it working for a UK butcher with a shop in central London and a home 2 hours commute away.

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Good point. I think in some cases the owners live in "the flat above the shop" or not much further away. The butcher we use has a very short drive from his shop. Taking a break is practical.

Another reason, of course, is that customers expect these shops to close. Nobody is outraged if a shop is closed at 1 pm, because nobody shops then. To implement a system like this in the UK, you'd have to get all of the shops in an area to change hours together. Otherwise, one shop would be tempted to stay open and grab custom. Nobody would want to go first.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Good point.  I think in some cases the owners live in "the flat above the shop" or not much further away.  The butcher we use has a very short drive from his shop.  Taking a break is practical. 

Another reason, of course, is that customers expect these shops to close.  Nobody is outraged if a shop is closed at 1 pm, because nobody shops then.  To implement a system like this in the UK, you'd have to get all of the shops in an area to change hours together.  Otherwise, one shop would be tempted to stay open and grab custom.  Nobody would want to go first.

Also, in Edinburgh I get up at the crack of dawn to get to the fishmonger and butchers (which do open early). But, this isn't for everybody and if we are talking about a real 'food revolution' (like the food press is always banging on about), it does have to be for are wider portion of the community, not just obsessives like myself. Most people will not go to a fishmonger at 7:30-8:00 am in the UK an store the fish in a work fridge, but they might go to a fishmonger at 6:30 on their way back from work.

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Thanks all. I agree with your points. I know that some of the market holders have been trying to get the organisers to consider evening openings etc.

My rant will be in the Edinburgh Evening News sometime this next week.

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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