‘Car-boot sales could help save Mansfield market’ says former stallholder

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A businessman who ran a stall on Mansfield’s market for 35 years has given up his pitch saying a radical overhaul is needed - including setting up car-boot style events.

Neal Wardman, director of Mansfield Woodhouse-based Domestic Supplies, has turned his back on the market and fears traders’ profits will continue to plummet unless decisive action is taken.

He says town centres have failed to cope with the advent of internet shopping, and the meteoric rise of supermarkets, and while free parking and better public transport links directly into the town centre could aid the issue, he suggests that car boot sales could be one trick the council is missing.

The 54-year-old, who was the last ever president of the Mansfield branch of the National Federation of Market Traders which folded in 2006, said: “Retail has changed because of the internet, and supermarkets have killed it - they’ve taken people from the town centre.

“The new markets are car boot sales, the council should somehow incorporate them into Mansfield town centre.

“Car boot sales are being held all across the region each week, and there are thousands of people going to them. They are really popular, so it’s something worth looking at.”

Mr Wardman’s family-run company, which stocks kitchen appliances, was set up in 1973 by his father.

The firm’s market pitch began life selling spare parts for white goods on the bustling market in 1979, four days a week, including Saturday.

That was reduced to two days in recent times and Mr Wardman admits that before ditching the pitch, it was being used to simply promote the firm’s main headquarters on Old Mill Lane Industrial Estate, which continues to thrive.

“It just doesn’t make any money, there’s not enough people going to the town centre anymore,” he added.

“Back in 1979 you used to have to fight for a stall, there were about 450 in all.

There’s just nowhere near that now, the council is fighting to give you a stall now.

“There’s just not the footfall there once was.”

Earlier this year Mansfield District Council proposed to radically alter the market by moving all stalls to Market Place and closing off West Gate to market traders - often considered the premier pitches.

The idea, which is still being considered, has been met with fierce opposition from many stallholders, especially on West Gate, who fear it could damage trade even further.

Mr Wardman agrees with the traders, adding: “It won’t make any difference whatsoever.

“Even the best position in the market is not viable now.

“A lot of traders have been there for years, and some are happy to make whatever they make, but the market would only be viable if you could get the people down there.”