Some would argue that a market town without a market would be just a plain old town – and that’s exactly what could happen to Tring if punters don’t start using the facility.
Producers and stallholders at Tring Farmers’ Market are urging people to come down and see what they’ve got to offer, after the footfall has steadily dropped over the last year to 18 months.
Market manager Johnnie Watherston said: “Some people think it’s elitist, but it’s not. If you compare the prices to the supermarkets, you’ll find that we’re more than competitive.
“I grow my own lamb about five miles from here, and if people want to come and see it, they can.
“I know all of my customers by their first names, and some even come just for a chat. It’s the way people used to shop, but if people don’t come and visit us, I’m afraid we’ll disappear.”
The market first popped up in May 1999, when it was believed to be one of the first in the country. There was great excitement as TV personality John Craven was invited to cut the ribbon and declare it officially open.
Originally, stallholders would sell their wares from in between the sheep and cattle pens on Brook Street, but after they fell out of use it was decided the area would be redeveloped into a more practical space.
In September 2005, the newly-surfaced marketplace was re-opened and the stallholders moved back in.
Johnnie said: “There was a novelty factor at first, and we had quite a lot of people using it, but then we had a definite drop off.”
You can browse stalls groaning under the weight of good, local and edible produce, including delicious cakes, homemade cordials, salamis, jams, sausages, cheese, eggs and chocolate.
You can also purchase flowers, crafty gifts and postcards – but despite the choice and variety, Trish Dowden of KiwiChik says they’ve lost stallholders in the past due to the lack of custom.
New Zealander Trish – who named her confectionary company after her Kiwi roots – said: “We recently lost our fish man because there just weren’t enough people coming. It’s a vicious circle – if we get new stallholders on board, they’re not going to stay because they’re a business. They need to make money.”
But surely Trish gets a lot of custom selling her home-baked goodies such as traybakes and truffles using recipes her mum taught her?
She said: “I love this town. When I first visited it was only for a couple of months, but now I’ve been here 25 years. There’s so much for people here – if only they’d use it. Come and give us a try!”
The market is held every other Saturday from 9am to noon. Visit www.tringfarmersmarket.co.uk for a list of dates.