Eastgate Market traders encourage shoppers to "give them a try"
SOME of them have been providing service with a smile for nearly half a century, tucked away in a once-thriving corner of the city.
And with the addition of a new business, stalwarts of the stalls at Gloucester's Eastgate Market are calling for more shoppers to pop in and experience that "personal touch".
Gift shop Best Kept Secret opened in the market two weeks ago and it joins more than a dozen other individual and unique stalls and businesses including a butcher, fish monger, tailor, watch seller and more – some of which have been selling there for more than three decades.
Traders say business has waned in comparison to the market's hey days in the 1970s and 1980s when people would queue outside at 8am waiting for it to open.
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Back then, when there were six butchers in the market alone, stalls were hot property and were snapped up as soon as one became available.
Now the story is a different one, with many units lying empty.
Despite this the traders, who say they are "one big happy family", are remaining positive and are adamant there is still a place in the retail sphere for Eastgate Market.
Ken Bullingham, who has been selling watches for 35 years, said: "There is definitely still a place for markets in any city centre I would say.
"People like that personal touch that they don't get in supermarkets and online.
"We get a lot of regular people in here, but it would be nice to see some newcomers. I would say to anyone, just come and try it.
"We'd really like the empty stalls filled. I think all of us here would like to see a greengrocer and a bakery here."
Judith Denning has been running the Sewing Box for 35 years and has only ever employed family members. Even her Saturday girl is her granddaughter.
She said: "When I first opened here I remember wondering if I had made the right decision, but I've never looked back. I love it here.
"Everyone knows everyone, we are one big happy family.
"It would be great if new people came in and saw what we were about. Sometimes someone will come in to buy a particular item and they will then realise there is another stall here selling something they want and they'll buy something from there."
Alan and Mary Jones, of Western Butchers, are the last surviving butcher in the market and are one of the busiest stalls.
Mary said: "The business has been here for 45 years. We have been the only one here for about seven years now.
"We are a lot cheaper than supermarkets, it's just that people are used to seeing their meat all packaged up. But here you can get two sausages you like the look of rather than a packet of eight."
Nadar Razae, of Pamir Tailoring, which was set up five years ago, added: "The economy has been hard on us, people just haven't got the money any more.
"I provide a service here and I think customers appreciate the personal touch of being served face to face."
Newcomers Best Kept Secret, owned by Chris Bullingham (son of Ken who owns the watch stall) are now facing the challenge of drawing their own clientele in.
"We just need to establish ourselves now," said Chris.
"They do a deal on the rates for new businesses so I just thought I would give it a go.
"My dad loves it here and he told me all about it. Hopefully I can be here for 35 years too!"