Thursday, March 09, 2006
Bolton's market is right next to the bus station, I had a day off and needed some fresh food, so I caught the bus to Bolton to get my fruit and veg as normal. Bolton's an easy bus ride away from Salford, and the number 8 runs every 10 minutes.
I don't like shopping for fresh food in supermarkets. It's possible to get good quality fruit and veg at very good prices from your local market stalls.
For example, I bought top quality bananas at 28p per lb/454g. Strawberries, huge, ripe and juicy at 89p/lb. Tesco were offering the same at nearly £2 for the same weight. White seedless grapes at really cheap prices, and oranges at ten for a pound. I spent less than a fiver and got two carrier bags crammed full of five-a-day goodness. I dread to think how much the same would have cost me at Tesco.
Further afield, there are other great markets outside of the Greater Manchester area. Blackburn's market is the largest covered market in Britain. An ex-work colleague runs a busy stall in Accrington's market, Clitheroe's market has some stalls that sell some really good specialist stuff and I'm sure that the Yorkshire market towns nearby also have a good trade.
However, the dominance of large retailers is slowly killing off these markets. Markets will only survive if people go there and buy from there regularly, and even the best ones have signs of traders struggling.
I noticed a couple of vacant stalls in Bolton's market hall. The number of fresh-food sellers in Darwen's market is about a third of how I remember it as a child.
The population is relatively stable in this part of the world, and people still need to eat; so if market stalls are closing, it means that instead of sourcing their food from a good local retailer or trader who has years of trading knowledge behind them who knows their customer, and gives good old-fashined quality service, people instead are going to the homogenised pre-packed world of the supermarket where some sixteen-year-old who thinks that Discoveries are a group of channels on satellite TV slams the bland pre-packed food over a computer on a Saturday morning.