NABMA – the National Association of British Markets – holds the biggest celebration of local markets right across the UK and around the world every year in May to profile the wonderful and innovative small businesses that are thriving and contributing to their communities. The Love Your Local Market fortnight (#LYLM2023), has now been embraced by over 24 countries worldwide and this year runs from 12 to 27 May. As well as a celebration of local markets, one of the key aims of the campaign is to offer opportunities for new businesses to try market trading for free or at a heavily discounted rate.
Ross-on-Wye’s markets take place twice weekly in the centre of town under the imposing red sandstone 17th century Market House, built between 1650 and 1654 (possibly replacing an original wooden structure), and comes to life with traders from all walks of life every Thursday and Saturday. The Charter for the town’s historic market was granted by King Stephen in the 12th Century and can be found under the Market House itself and on the market apron in front of the steps. The introduction of these regular markets was a welcome addition to the town and stimulated the economy by encouraging traders from the town and further afield to bring their crafts to a wider audience, as well as giving residents a broader range of products to purchase without the need for travelling.
Over the years, the market has attracted hundreds of different traders selling their wares ranging from arts and crafts to food, drink, plants, flowers, clothes and much more. Pitches are booked in advance via the Markets Officer, Mary Sinclair Powell, who has been in the role for many years and collects pitch fees from stallholders on market day. Regular and casual traders enjoy benefits including a loyalty reward (also known as Kipper Week) during the quieter months to thank them for their continued support. If traders attend for three consecutive weeks, the fourth week is given for free, with Thursdays and Saturdays treated individually. Traders are always asked to give three weeks’ notice if taking a holiday break – this helps to keep the market thriving and allow other traders a chance to take available pitches in advance.
Regular traders who have been attending Ross-on-Wye’s Thursday market for many years include Andrew and Donna who get up super early to supply us with their fabulous fresh fish, Nigel Oates with his vast display of clothing and homewares under the Market House eaves, and Mark from Taynton Farm who brings an incredible range of British and international cheeses to the market plus tapas, charcuterie and delicatessen goodies.
Also a regular stalwart on the markets every Saturday is Sue Marsh from Pantry at Four with her mouth watering homemade cakes and bakes. Trading since 2017 and in Ross for three years, Sue and her daughter Fliss, have attended the markets come rain or shine, and have also built up a loyal fan base, who stock up on their delicious range of sweet and savoury treats, chutneys, jams and preserves.
New businesses and traders are always encouraged and since the pandemic in 2020, recovery was at first understandably a little slow but now the market is once again thriving with its current wonderful entrepreneurial traders, including – as of May 2023 – Macca with his Fresh Fruit & Veg, Tom from Barbers Bridge Nursery & Florist, Soup by T, Julicious Bakes, Happy Dumpling 365, Pristine Wheat, Orchard Grove Preserves, The Phoenix Garden and Tyrone’s bargain cakes, bakes, sweets and treats.
Further information on the markets, which are run by Ross-on-Wye Town Council, can be found on their website here.