I used to love the atmosphere – with some of the characters proving as colourful as the stalls they ran. Sadly, as time went by, the number of stalls dwindled. The market was reduced to half its original size – then smaller still – until this incredible ‘shrinking’ market ceased to exist. I missed it terribly – and still do!
A couple of other towns in the area still have markets, but to a much smaller scale – one lines its high street twice a week (Gillingham), the other sets up in a small car park (Strood). Both of them still have some very worthwhile stalls – just in smaller numbers, without quite the same atmosphere.
The wool, fabric and haberdashery stalls are very welcome as there has definitely been a reduction in the number of these shops in my area. I also love the stalls that sell ex-store fashion lines at great value prices. But I expect that many market traders have been pushed out of business by some of the bargain stores that now exist in high streets, that just weren’t around in the heyday of Rochester Market and its like.
I believe that we should make use of the markets that still exist and support our independent market traders to ensure their survival. Markets can be such fun, original places to shop, with a charm all of their own.
In addition to general markets, you can also find Farmers' Markets (great for local produce), Craft Markets (handy for original gifts) and Antique Markets (you never know what you may find). Whatever type of market you visit, you’ll discover a very different shopping experience to that of the high street.
I’m glad to see there are areas where markets have survived much better – I’ve visited some on recent trips to Great Yarmouth and Norwich for example – but I’d hate to think that these would suddenly disappear too.
So support markets everywhere and help preserve this very traditional, yet fun way of shopping.
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