Downpatrick Market attracts almost 600 shoppers on Saturday to support local stallholders.
Dan McEvoy, Chairman of the Downpatrick Community Collective which runs the Downpatrick Artisan Market, said that the market behind the bus station was still well supported despite fears over Covid-19.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions to protect the public and the stall holders. There is only one entry and exit point, and sanitiser is available. We are also encouraging everyone to wear masks when possible even though there is ample space for social distancing,” said Dan.
“Last Saturday was our third market in the car park behind the bus station. It is much more convenient for the stall holders and shoppers. Parking is more accessible. And the stalls are well spaced out to meet the Covid-19 regulations.
“The stalls seemed to be busy enough which was a good sign. There was a good atmosphere again today. We had the trad group from St Patrick’s Grammar School playing a few traditional numbers followed by singer/guitarist Denis Harper who plays a lot of easy going numbers people enjoy.
“And the sun was shining even though it was a little breesy for the stalls. We had the free draw and five winners were picked who will receive a share of the £100 we put up in vouchers to be spent at the next market in Downpatrick.”
Dan explained that this market was the Collective’s 31st market in Downpatrick. He said the Downpatrick market will be coming soon enough depending on the weather of course. And there will be no market in January as the site in the car park is quite exposed.
“We are quite experienced now in managing the market. We manage it with 6-8 members of the collective. That includes setting it up and breaking it down again. It’s all teamwork.
“We have done some market research and found that visitors to the artisan market are coming to Downpatrick and also going into the local shops in the town to buy items and supplies. This increase in footfall to the town is really encouraging.
“This coming weekend we are running Warrenpoint market in the Municipal Car Park in Warrenpoint for Newry Mourne and Down District Council. This will be the sixth market there for us and it is going well. It is very popular.
“The Newcastle market has also plans to get going again and two of us will be helping organisers in Newcastle to get things running there.”
Dan said that the market scene is quite vibrant and creates a buzz in our local towns and has positive spin-offs for the shops with the extra footfall.
“But,” Dan added: “With the Covid-19 epidemic looking quite threatening at the moment, we just hope we all get through this safely and the market continue into the future again. It is a difficult time for businesses all round.”