“An indoor community market. Could it happen in Twickenham? I think it could. Since floating the idea a month ago I have received messages of goodwill and support for the idea from many people. The positive response has encouraged me to pursue the vision as an active project. Here’s why and how it would work…
Heath Road now hosts an unacceptable number of empty retail and commercial properties. In the 50’s and 60’s this was a busy and varied shopping area with many specialist shops. It is now a sad looking entry route from the west into Twickenham, full of eateries that often don’t last very long or estate agents, barber shops and charity shops. The road is ripe for some serious thinking on a subject that was previously dropped when Poundland took over the then vacant Woolworth site.
So let’s consider the idea of a midweek and weekend indoor market. The idea here is a simple one. The empty shops that are all clustered around Rubens excellent bakery are empty for a reason. These are some of the smallest retail units in Heath Road. Traditionally they would have been taken on by budding entrepreneurs and start-up businesses but in today’s climate these units represent too much of a financial risk for a start-up. Business rates and rents are coming in at a minimum of £20,000 p.a. This is before shop fitting, stocking, insurance and utility costs.
So we need somewhere for the small retail business person to get a foot in the door. Hence Twickenham Indoor Market. Stallholders would be local resident entrepreneurs and craft persons who are unable to afford current retail rents and business rates but who would like somewhere to try out and sell their wares…
The proposal originally suggested that the Council takes on the lease of one of the larger sites in Heath Road and kits it out with purpose built stalls. It might be managed within the Town Centre manager’s department. Make sure there are toilet facilities and then offer the stalls on a day rate to borough residents at something like £20/30 per stall per day.
This would attract a wide range of craft and collector type small businesses all of whom can’t afford to take on one of the empty retail units. Potential stall holders may well include arts and craft style hobby businesses. Then there are antique and bric-a-brac style stalls. Home based jam, marmalade and chutney makers could be next to the cake stall. Every market like this would have collectors stalls selling and trading records, books and toys, ephemera and of course stamps, postcards and coins.
By introducing the community element into the equation I proposed that stalls could be used by the police, council, local groups such as history societies etc and local charities to raise their visibility and profile, promote their latest activities, and in the case of the charities have an opportunity to raise funds. The market would be open for a minimum of 5 days per week and suitable stallholders could rent on a one day, weekly, monthly or even annual basis.
To me it’s a no brainer as it would breathe life back into a dying area while helping exactly the type of ‘get up and go’ people that we need to see being successful in the town. Remember that Heath Road has the largest number of bus routes in the borough which link in to both main line and tube stations easily.
I believe this can become an affordable project for Twickenham which would become self funding in year 2.
The market would bring extra footfall into the town as a result of marketing and advertising activities by the stallholders and the market’s management. We have a lot of old and new media in this town which can be used to flag and support the market such as the Richmond & Twickenham Times, Richmond Magazine and the TW Magazine titles. Of course we mustn’t overlook the growing media power of the RTT, Twickerati and Totally Richmond local websites. Apologies to anyone omitted. [Editor: Actually, that’s enough publicity for the competition, thanks!]
If we really want it, there is no reason why Twickenham Indoor Market cannot be open this year. I therefore urge support and discussion from your readers so that we can all see that this can be a hugely worthwhile addition to the future prosperity of Twickenham. We need something to put the energy and focus back into this tired looking part of Twickenham. I firmly believe that a well-advertised and permanent indoor community market would significantly increase footfall into the area as well as the town in general.
So how do we move forward?
At this stage I would like to hear from borough residents who would consider becoming an “anchor stall” in the market. I believe we require 4 or 5 such stalls from the arts, crafts and collectables sectors who would commit to the market on a minimum number of days per week. Collectables encompasses a variety of offerings from records to books and toys, bric-a-brac, ephemera and antique watch and clock sales and repairs. If you are out there and think that this may suit you, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for such a project is essential of course, so if anyone can offer or suggest practical or funding assistance please get in touch at my email address.”
Alan Winter is a lifelong resident of Twickenham. A passionate Brentford FC supporter he is still recovering from watching the missed penalty on Saturday that prevented the Bees gaining promotion to the Championship. In his business life Alan headed up Marketing and Sales teams with FTSE 100 Companies for many years. Since taking an early retirement package a few years ago, he developed a hobby business selling stamps and postcards at fairs and markets and this is where the idea for an indoor market in Twickenham began. He sees the Twickenham Indoor Community Market as “probably my last project, but one that will give me the greatest pleasure to achieve”.
* There are no links here but post comments and ideas below or get in touch with Alan directly at email@example.com