Monday, 31 January 2011

A brief thought on Leeds Kirkgate Market


I had occasion to meander through Leeds' splendid Kirkgate Market this morning - indeed I bought some nuts at the nut stall! And it got me to thinking about the Council's desire to make the place more "upmarket" - shinier, more splendid, more in keeping with Leeds as "Shopping Central".

My conclusion is that Leeds Council have it wrong - there isn't an upmarket to take Kirkgate Market to. Unless less you want half-empty with a few struggling boutiques. Looking at the market today, it's the down market bit that's thriving - the stalls selling all sorts off stuff manned by immigrants, the trinkets, cheap veg and affordable meat. In fact what markets have always done.

The 'posh' end of the market's full of empty stalls and others watching as the customers scuttle by down to the cheaper end - the heaving outdoor market. Yes we've got Jamie's soup kitchen - some kind of fancy health project that seems incongruous in a place filled with cheap stuff and fun people. But that's not the future - the future's in what markets have always delivered.

So drop the rents, get the empty stalls filled with interesting stuff and promote the place as a counterpoint to shiny Leeds. That might work!



Dave Shepherd said...

Leeds council do not want me as a motorist to spend any money in their city. They have happily taxed me out of it with their parking taxes. Should I need to buy anything- one of the first things I consider is "Will I have to pay to park? If so- can I get it delivered for a similar price?" This also saves me cash as I do not spend on impulse buys whilst out shopping. It is only if I have friends from outside the area visiting that I venture into t' big city.

Rebecca Roberts said...

I would disagree re: 'Cheap' Veg, the veg stalls offer the highest quality but at affordable prices, the diversity is amazing, two specialist afro-caribbean veg stalls. Fish & Game Row is as 'up market' as anywhere in the North of England, in fact I presume the stallholders here make far more money supplying restaurants in the area than they do from standing in the market.

The potential is vast, A few times in the past week I have heard reference to 'Borough of the North' as a 'foodie' you will understand that reference, how amazing if that could be.

Existing stallholders could do much to promote the benefits, strange how none seem to blog or Twitter, are they shouting about what they do or expecting LCC to do it for them, if so that's more and more unlikely with the cuts hitting marketing.

Agree the right shoppers need to be educated but someone needs to take responsibility for that.

Simon Cooke said...


Borough Market came about because the old wholesale market was on its last legs. And it's a farmers' market (to all intents and purposes) run by a private trust.

Of course there's some great stalls in Kirkgate but my argument was - and is - that markets are a counterpoint to 'shiny Leeds'.

Leeds council still sees its markets as cash generators rather than businesses - which is why there's no promotion and little or no investment. The market should be managed as a business not as a cost centre - which probably means getting it out from the council's clutches and into a form of private arrangement.