Markets in the Grassmarket

I didn’t get much chance to look at the market on Sunday but it had to be better than Saturday’s. The first problem with the Saturday markets held in August which I’m reliably informed are a “tradition” is that they are too big. We need people IN the Grassmarket and the stalls take up so much space there is very little space left for people so much so that it is a tight squeeze just to walk between the seating outside the cafes and restaurants and the first wave of junk stalls. The second problem is that most of the stalls are “a bit shit”. Now everybody seems to know this but nobody wants to offend the organisers. OK “a bit shit” isn’t tactful but others with more time to be tactful could explain it would need to get better just to come up to a car boot sale standard. Shops and cafes/restaurants in the Grassmarket pay a huge amount of rent and rates to be there and can not afford to have some of the best Saturdays of the year ruined in this way.

Which brings me to the next problem. Grassmarket traders pay to be there all year and then just when business is looking up competition sets up outside your door. Whether that be vintage clothing stalls outside Armstrongs, record stalls outside Avalanche, juice bars outside Hula or as Bill the owner of the joke shop was telling me even a board of jokes on a stall outside the joke shop. In better economic times it would be an annoyance but now it is taking away crucial business at a time when more and more it is the weekends when most of the takings are made.

None of these stalls bring people to the Grassmarket but instead rely on those who will already be there. Believe me I have looked extensively online and promotion of these markets and stalls is minimal. While the latest market was “last minute” in these days of instant social media even that isn’t too late to promote.

Fruit stall in Barcelona market

Of course something like a farmers market or arts market (not a craft fair) will if regular and well promoted bring people to the Grassmarket though even the latter might impinge on those already in the Grassmarket and I would understand if on balance others felt that affected their business. I did see on Sunday a big fruit (and veg ?) stall that looked great and I will certainly be supporting that this week. It is exactly the sort of stall that we need.

So if you see stalls in the Grassmarket remember that it is the shops that are there all year and support them wherever possible as a first choice. If you see that record you’ve been looking for or the perfect vintage dress on a stall then of course it is only sensible to buy it but if you need a glass of juice go to Hula and if you need  a piece of plastic that looks like a dog shit go to the joke shop. 

I am of course speaking for myself here and not directly on behalf of any other Grassmarket traders.

2 Responses to “Markets in the Grassmarket”

  • Valerie Thornton:

    Dear Kevin,
    This is a community event which benefits the local community – it is not run by the Council but by elderly residents – all the money raised goes to local old age pensioners – and provides then with a Christmas Party and one in the Summer – none of the money for the stalls goes to the Council and the organisers. I am sure that you will agree that a lot of the elderly residents who live in the Grassmarket also are here all year round – and I feel that it is nice that something is done to encourage community feeling … but perhaps you didnt know that – certainly none of the local businesses as far as I am aware contribute a bean to their parties or events for them! I also dont think that I notice any traders doing anything about the illegal cafes running down here with no planning permission – perhaps doing something about them might encourage people to visit the area – not that many shops left down there now as far as I can see. I am a Grassmarket trader and sell exactly the kind of things that were being sold on Saturday – and indeed I must say that takings wise it was one of the best days of the year – so no idea where you are coming out with things like having one of the best Saturdays of the year ruined – not from where I see it… so I do not that you are speaking for yourself. I could only see restaurants packed out, pubs heaving all up and down the street. Did you actually leave you shop to see this – and it certainly for me made a welcome change from seeing a bunch of pissed men dressed up in nurses uniforms shouting, smoking and pissing it up outside the Black Bull all day!
    I did hear anyone grumbling about stalls being shoved up in the Jazz Festival.
    Gosh! get a life – and let the residents who actually live here 24/7 and not just in shop opening hours – have their annual community fair without you wingeing about it – perhaps a couple of record vouchers might be in hand for the raffle at the pensioners Xmas party then from you since you are being so community orientated???

  • Hi Valerie
    I certainly agree that it is good to raise money for the elderly residents but the market is unfortunately timed I expect deliberately from the market’s viewpoint to coincide with some of the busiest days of the year. I have certainly never been asked for a contribution and would always be happy to donate things for raffles and the like as I do for local schools. I was actually unaware of the illegal cafe but I do now know other traders complained and it was the council who seemed unprepared to do anything. I don’t know what you sell but I can only tell you what happened to my takings which is hardly surprising if people have limited funds to spend and one Saturday there were three traders selling records outside my door but without my overheads. Jos at Helios Fountain who has traded in the Grassmarket for over 30 years also had a dramatic drop in takings during the market so I was not alone.

    I’m sure that the Grassmarket traders if asked would put together a great package for the elderly residents at Christmas and I would be more than happy to help with that.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment

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