I don't think so.
Do you love to shop… to browse and interact with knowledgeable, passionate people… business owners who source their own products, know their customers, and can help advise and suggest, with perhaps some banter thrown in for good measure?
If you were on holiday and someone pointed out a place like that, or trip advisor recommended, you’d stick it on your holiday list, look at your maps and go out for a day to find it!
Now, imagine you have that on your doorstep… a place where there’s fruit and veg brought fresh that morning (Ibbotsons), neatly displayed very early (except Wednesday and Sunday), not wrapped in plastic, where you can choose the fruit and veg you want, one parsnip, one carrot and one pear if that’s what you want, pay on card and a bit of social interaction… good for our mental health. A gin shop (Ginspired) with a wide range of specialist flavoured gins, spirits, and real ales, from across the country, displayed with love and with an expert guide to help you chose. A cheese shop (Cheese factor) with over 130 different varieties, specialist, and unusual flavours, served by people who know what they are doing, where you can also buy olives, pastries, oat cakes, local beers, wines, an emporium of different flavours… where, if you ask, you can sample before you buy (within reason I'm sure Simon would add!). Hand pick a collection of sweet treats for the kids (Aunty Dots Sweets), Plants and flowers (Thanks a Bunch), a book stall specialising in history and local titles (Brockwell Books), a zero waste shop where you can refill your washing up bottle, buy handmade soaps etc (Steph's Sustainable Stuff), be a little more environmentally conscious... and this is just a handful of the businesses and stall holders.
You’d probably make a special trip to this place, have a browse, stop for a drink and some breakfast, and enjoy the quaint and olde English feel of the place.
Well, this is what we have under our noses!
Then there is the Thursday Flea market, packed every week, a specialist Artisan Market, a hugely popular Record Fair (the largest outdoor record fair in the UK), and a Vegan Market each month, each appealing to a different audience and pulling people into the town centre to further support the independent retailers.
It’s got a long history our market, started in 1165 and granted a Royal Charter in 1204 by King John, moving from its original site near St Mary’s Church in 1220 across to the Market Place and it’s been evolving ever since. The Market Hall was built in 1857 and refurbished in 2012 at a cost of £4.2M. It’s this history and progression that gives us the prestigious status as a Derbyshire Market Town, and this bustling market brings in tourists, boosts the local economy and makes our town a bit more interesting than the others!
Ok, so perhaps not everything is perfect, maybe the market hall could feel a bit funkier, a bit more cosmopolitan, dare I say it, a bit more European but it’s got a lot going for it, the more we use it the more people get to know about it and more people will come… someone should put it on Tik Tok that will do the trick!
When the ‘Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield’ project delivers it’s revamp of the outdoor market and New Square, perhaps it will make a real difference and create the vibrant outdoor space we could have, an interesting option… you’ll need to watch this space on this one.
I know time is precious and it’s easy to shop online but I really do encourage you to spend some of your time and your money in our town centre and market and be positive about what we have.
Your money and your positive attitude can make a real difference.
Over to you.
Words: Paul Chapman Image: Unhampered-Chesterfield