York Shambles market prepares to reopen with caution this month

Stall holders put back market reopening to June 15 to plan stringent safety measures. Stephanie Smith reports.

Clare Morris of Copper & White

Independent traders in York are getting ready to reopen their stalls at Shambles Market later this month for the first time since the Coronavirus lockdown took hold back in March.

The much-loved historic market and tourist attraction is home to the city’s largest group of independents, with more than 70 stalls, including fashion, gifts, flowers, crafts, handbags, vintage finds and retro vinyl. It also offers fresh produce and has a food court at its centre with street food and live music.

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Under Government lockdown easing guidelines, the open air Shambles Market has been allowed to open since June 1, but the traders and their committee have decided to wait until June 15 to allow time for robust safety and social distancing measures to be put in place.

The Shambles Market before lockdown

Clare Morris of fashion business Copper & White said weekly Zoom conferences with the Shambles market trader committee, Make It York, and its head of Commercial and Revenue Generation Russell McCartney, had kept traders in the loop with regards to market life after lockdown. “That has been really valuable as we know our opinions are valued and it helps us as traders to know that our futures are important,” she said.

“When the Government announced that markets could open from June 1, Make It York did want to make that happen; however, there are stringent health and safety rules that we have to follow and we all felt it was better to open up with everything in place so that customers felt 100 per cent safe at all times. That is the key to all of our thought processes. Safety comes above everything else. We’re now opening on the 15th of June together with the shops."

Ms Morris said all Shambles traders had received an information pack detailing the measures that will be put in place, including plastic screens, one-way systems, signage and hand sanitisers.

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York models Annie Stirk, Carolyn Amos and Elisa Winstanley modelling the new collection from Copper & White. Picture: Andrea Dennis of Pink Lily Photography Copyright: Pink Lily Photography

“The information pack is extremely thorough so we have no worries with regards to opening. As far as Copper & White is concerned, our stand will be gleaming,” she said. “We’re also very lucky to be outside where the risk of transmission is much lower.”

“The measures that are being put in place are so stringent, and also we always work as a team at the market, so the power of community and collaboration will shine through.

“We’re more apprehensive with deciding our new layout for the stand as we’ll have to reconfigure it and we want it to still look as beautiful and appealing as it normally does. There’s also the apprehension regarding the economic recession and how it will affect sales and footfall. We have every confidence in our collection and it has been flying out of our online store, so we think that it will only be a matter of time before the economy recovers and sales pick up for everyone.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing other traders and our lovely customers. It’s been such a long time and initially we just want to know everyone is OK and that they have weathered the storm.”

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