HIGH Street business owners have lashed out at the town’s produce market which has been described as ‘shambolic’ with one trader threatening to pull out of town unless changes are made.

The row erupted after claims market traders were competing with town centre stores with stalls being set up outside of shopfronts, including claims a tea and coffee van was situated outside of Odettes and sweet treats were put on sale at the entrance to House of Cake.

Nigel Burrows, who recently brought his locksmith shop to the High Street, said he was left ‘feeling sick’ after he arrived to work on Saturday morning (February 24) and found trader’s stalls almost blocking his storefront.

Mr Burrows said he was given no notice the market would be taking place and blamed the event for a dramatic drop in takings as a result. Market organisers have said they have received both positive and negative feedback about the event and confirmed it “will be making adjustments.”

Speaking to the Wellington Weekly, Mr Burrows said: “My takings were down over £200 on Saturday, I only had two customers who spent a grand total of £32.

“The first that I learned of this market was at 8am when I arrived at the shop. There was no consultation and no notice that the market was going to be trading.

“On the last two Saturdays I have taken in more than £250, with between 10 and 20 customers in the shop and the phone going off the hook.”

House of Cake appeared to be obscured by a cake stand
House of Cake appeared to be obscured by a cake stand (Tindle )

Mr Burrows said he was not against a market in principle, but said he felt it had been so poorly organised he was now thinking about rehoming his business. He said: “I’m not against the market, but I had to take my van all the way home because I could not park. I felt sick, I even considered moving my shop. I am loyal to Wellington, I could have bought a cheaper shop in Galmington but after Saturday I am having second thoughts; it was a shambles.

“I have spent five figures opening this shop but if this happens nine or ten times a year, that’s me done if it continues.”

Toby Brimacombe, who runs Odette’s Tearoom, said the market also took a toll on his takings - saying he was undercut by a hot drinks van outside his shop.

He said: “I was quite angry - I still am actually. We did not get any warning, we usually get two or three weeks notice for events like the street fair but there was none of that.

“I found out about the market on Facebook, as I was walking down the High Street I saw there were to sweet baked good stalls outside the House of Cake, a pet stall outside Paws and Claws and a coffee and cake shop directly out the front of Odettes.

“My takings were down by a third - it costs me £207 to open for a day but I believe it costs the market traders just £30 to set up stall. It almost wasn’t worth opening for the day.”

The event saw the High Street closed to traffic
The event saw the High Street closed to traffic (Tindle )

Chris Penk, from House of Cake, said he was “not unhappy” with the market, but said the placement of some stalls could have been better. He said: “It is not ideal, clearly they could have placed them better but I wouldn’t say we were unhappy, we relish the market being here.

“There wasn’t a major impact on trade for us, but it didn’t improve things either.”

Fraser Purdy, who runs the Ruxtons Farm Shop with his brother, Gabriel, agreed. He said: “Competition is good for the High Street but clearly there needs to be some thought about the placement of some stalls.”

Responding to complaints from traders, a spokesperson for the Wellington Market said: “Wellington market would like to thank the shop owners and residents of High Street for making us feel so welcome on Saturday. Whilst, sadly, there were some negative comments on social media, the overall response was positive. 

“With new events there are opportunities to learn and make changes.  We have listened to feedback, both positive and negative and will be making adjustments to our plans for forthcoming markets. Wellington market wants to work alongside shop owners so that High Street and Wellington as a whole is a great place to visit on market days.”