A new market for Shaftesbury

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With entertainment and dozens of artisan goods and food stalls, the monthly event will boost tourism and trade, says Rachael Rowe

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Who doesn’t enjoy the lure of a market? The quirky artisan stalls, the smell of sizzling bacon, fresh flowers, a new scarf … and a chance to sample some local food and a hot fresh coffee while meeting old friends.
A new monthly market is coming to Shaftesbury on Saturday 13th May. It will be run by the same team who manage the successful Sunday market in Sherborne. Already, 80-plus traders are signed up, and it is expected that more than 100 stalls will spread along Park Walk and down the High Street to Angel Square. The Abbey will be open and buskers will add to the atmosphere.

A careful selection
The range and quality of the stalls are the measure of any market and director Jules Bradburn explains the rules for trader selection: ’They must be local and have artisan products that they have either made themselves or curated for sale. There are also food sellers and stalls selling alcohol.
‘For example, we have a trader who goes to Jaipur to curate screen printed clothing. Another lady sources her products personally in Morocco. We like to feature all our traders on our Facebook page and website so people can really get an idea of who is here and what is available. It works – Sherborne Market started with 75 stalls and now we have more than 200 every month.’
Jules works hard to ensure it’s an eclectic mix – in Shaftesbury you can expect to see gins from Tackroom Distillery, interesting wooden crafts from Bespoke Woodwork, Amelia Stone Jewellery and solid wood furniture from Richard Heath.

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Does Shaftesbury need one?
Locals and regular visitors know that Shaftesbury already has a farmers market and also a country market every Thursday. Does it need another one? The new Shaftesbury Market is being managed in collaboration with Shaftesbury Town Council. Andy Hollingshead, who leads the council’s High Street Working Group, says: ‘We are delighted to be working with Jules along with our own brilliant independent and national retailers in delivering this exciting new artisan market experience. We are confident that this will keep Shaftesbury as a leading destination for shopping and tourism.’
But what do traders at the existing Thursday country market feel? Cheesemonger Carolyn Hopkins is a regular with her characterful Truckle Truck (pictured opposite), but she won’t be at the May market as she has a prior commitment elsewhere. She thinks there is ‘absolutely room for both’ in Shaftesbury: ‘The new market will bring a great variety of different stalls to the town, so it shouldn’t impact the established markets.
‘I’m lucky enough to have a pitch at the Sherborne Pannier Market, and I find that the months when the Sherborne Market is on are actually busier there too.’
Carolyn feels the market will also benefit the town: ‘Anything that raises interest in the town itself is a great opportunity – the market should bring shoppers in and boost trade for the whole high street, as well as increasing general visitors coming to Shaftesbury at other times by making us a destination.’
Jules highlights some of the benefits the Sunday market has brought to Sherborne: ‘Contrary to some initial shopholder fears, we have found that the market complements the existing shops and they benefit from the increase in trade.’
The new Shaftesbury monthly market will be tested on Saturdays and Sundays to see what works best for the town. ‘We’re constantly testing and evaluating,’ says Jules.

Where will everyone park?
With all the stalls and the potential for a lot of visitors, where will everyone park? Jules has done some planning and analysis: ‘None of our traders will be parking in the public car parks. Arrangements have been made for them, we use vehicle registration and we have stewards who check the alternative parking arrangements. But it’s something we will be reviewing.’
As someone familiar with the Sherborne Market, who has also worked and traded for many years in Shaftesbury, Carolyn Hopkins says; ‘I know they’re already looking at it, but parking! It’s the perennial issue in Shaftesbury … Other than that, to keep doing what they’ve done so well in Sherborne – it will be a great fit in Shaftesbury.’

For more information about Shaftesbury Market, visit the website theshaftesburymarket.com

Stalls not to miss:

There will be freshly baked authentic baklava, made by Somerset-based Baklavaty. Dunya started at the Sherborne Market in 2020, bringing her original recipes from Libya. Her sweet treats are a firm favourite and always sell out.
Colin The Vintage Salvager is a talented designer-maker of bespoke industrial style homewares, furniture and garden products. His ingenious use of salvage makes his products both affordable and desirable.
Popular baker and Dorset Farmers Market regular Lizzie Baking Bird is bringing her delicious goodies from Upwey – look out for her sausage rolls and brownies.

1 COMMENT

  1. Had a lovely day in Shaftesbury, the weather was kind, and people came out in their numbers to support the market. It was wonderful to see familiar faces emerge from the crowd, to come and chat, catch-up and replenish their dwindling stores of essential oils and facial products. Wild As The Wind Facial Oil No. 2 still remains the firm favourite in Shaftesbury! It is so good to see that Shaftesbury has a flourishing artisan market on a Sunday once more. The standard and diversity of stalls was really impressive. Some great, knowledgeable creatives were in attendance, all sharing their insights, as well as the product of their labours. Plus, the live music was excellent, infusing the heart of the town with uplifting and invigorating waves of enjoyment. It is too long since I’ve frequented the bakery in Shaftesbury. Reeve The Baker is possibly the best bakery in the UK! I had the most phenomenal sausage roll for my lunch… an immersive, smile inducing experience! All in all, it was the best use of my Sunday imaginable!

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