I’ve often said about how lovely it would be for Bude to have a permanent weekly market. Indeed, Holsworthy town centre comes alive on Wednesdays, when the market there is running. Of course, between April – September, Bude does have its very successful farmers and craft market. This year, the stalwart stallholders must have wondered what else the weather could throw at them, as they’ve had very few fine days to bring people out, but nonetheless, stalls like Sajla’s Taaza Curry have reported sellout days, and T & M Arts and Crafts have also had some very successful trading, as have other less social media savvy stalls, no doubt.
The man behind the markets is bespoke joiner, Neville Padgham, from Wharf Woodcraft. Neville made me a lovely wooden sign for my gate which has survived the real weathering it has received of late, so I can personally recommend his work. It’s great to chat to Neville who is very helpful and friendly, and obviously loves his craft. He is a sixth generation joiner who moved to Cornwall five years ago, setting up his premises at Lower Wharf three and a half years ago. Originally from East Grinstead in Sussex, Neville has always been a community-minded person, involved there in the Scouts, the local fire station, and as a first-aider, so it was probably inevitable that he would become involved in something in Bude, which, of course, he has.
His workshop/shop, which he shares with his beautiful chocolate Labrador, Cadbury, is in a lovely situation down at Lower Wharf but, despite what appears to be a marvellous location, the shops there don’t have an easy time, as Neville explains:
“People are in strolling, not shopping, mode when they come to the Wharf, so it can be a struggle to get people to spend. Despite us being close to large car parks, those who do travel the wharf tend to stick to the path by the canal, not the one by the shops, and the coach loads of visitors who arrive in town in summer are quite often directed into town avoiding the Wharf altogether“.
This was an interesting observation, because the perception of many people in the town (myself included) is that the shops must be very busy due to their lovely, pedestrianised situation. However, the shops are just slightly off the main path and that makes all the difference. Neville is lucky in that, like many around the canal area, he uses his premises primarily as a workshop, making furniture to order, not simply as a shop. However, he saw the need to get more people to the Wharf area, so wanted to create something a little different, that would be good for traders and for Bude. After all, most tourists enjoy a good farmers/craft market, too.
The farmers and craft markets are in their third year now and seem to grow more successful by the year. In year one, Neville ran the markets every second Friday. People found this ‘is it or isn’t it on?’ approach confusing and it soon became apparent that weekly markets would increase visitors numbers, footfall and sales. Neville doesn’t have a stall himself but is the first to admit he benefits from the extra traffic. However, he has probably paid out more to run the markets than he gets back through stallholder fees, etc.
“There is, of course, an element of self-interest“, says Neville, “because it’s really hard for businesses everywhere in the current climate but we are also slightly away from the main shopping area. The market pulls people to this area, so all businesses benefits including the Olive Tree, the model shop, Fudgey Wudgie Cupcakey and the 3 Bs. It also helps promote the area“.
The market brings the Wharf area to life, as it has become bigger and better. This year’s ends on 28th September. There are around 20 regular stalls throughout the summer season including mosaics, organic and traditional vegetables, free range meats, hand crafted flowers, textile crafts, jewellery, driftwood items, plants, pickles, soaps, knitted toys, breads, organic and traditional, curries, cakes, cheeses, home-made sweets, soft toys, and wooden clocks. Neville is also the man behind last year’s Christmas market which was very successful. Here’s hoping there will be another one this year….
Incidentally, Neville doesn’t run the market for profit. The money raised goes back into insurance and promotion, and so far, he has subsidised the markets from his own pockets.
He feels that out of season free parking would be a great help to all the town’s traders though understands the need to have throughput during the tourist season. Maybe that’s one for Cornwall’s councillors to take on board.
Meanwhile, he’s very friendly so don’t be afraid to pop in take a look at Neville’s own pieces or his catalogue. He makes wooden brooches, necklaces and bowls as well as large furniture/clock cases, generally to order. Neville’s shop is also known for its duck food – he sells quality duck food at 25p a bag, with an honesty box outside for the monies; he says people like to feed the ducks, and too much bread is bad for them. Quite right.
Last year he sold a massive 4000 bags of feed, so, Bude’s ducks are also doing very well out of Neville’s enterprise, as are traders and customers who enjoy his summer markets.