SOUTHEND High Street market has been a resounding success since opening in October.
Every Thursday morning stalls selling everything from fresh bread, fish and vegetables to duvets, material and plants have been drawing bargain hunters into the town.
The variety of stalls and quality of goods on offer have proved a hit with shoppers, stallholders are happy with the busy High Street location and retailers benefit from the increased number of people visiting.
Another seven stalls are set to open next month, with the market expected to double in size by April.
Ahead of the expansion, the Echo went to meet some of the traders.
Victoria Prior, 46, of Rochford, sells bakery goods, confectionery, ambient goods and eggs.
Ms Prior, who has been a market trader for 32 years, said: “We are like a supermarket. It has been great.
“The customers really like it. It makes the High Street more interesting. We get regulars here with the office workers coming out. We are getting to know people.”
Victoria Prior sells bakery goods at the town centre market
Steve Burgess, 51, of Shoebury, sells fruit and vegetables. He has wholesalers Kirby and Lewis in Shoebury and a stall at Southend’s twice-monthly Saturday farmers’ market.
Mr Burgess, who has been a market trader for 20 years, said: “We are very happy with it. For the time of year, the weather hasn’t been on our side. It will be much better in the summer.
“There is much more footfall here than there was at the York Road market. People want a bargain and it brings them into the High Street.”
Carl Turner, 49, of Ashingdon, sells women’s clothing. He also has a stall at Rochford and Rayleigh markets.
Mr Turner, who has been a market trader for 32 years, said: “It has been very successful and well-run.
“It’s in a very good position and there is no duplication of lines. They are looking to get variety. It’s good quality traders. It’s not like a boot sale.
“It’s helped that the council, which doesn’t understand markets, has gotamarket trader who is a contact and makes sure it is well-run. The council has done a good job.”
Trevor Wilkins, 49, of Rochford, sells pet food and accessories and also has a stall at Ockendon market.
Mr Wilkins, who has been a market trader for five years, said: “We came from Roots Hall market to this one, as there is a lot of uncertainty over that market.
There about six of us from Roots Hall here.
“It’s not a bad market, but it’s going to take a whi l e t o build u p properly. We still get people coming here asking if we are here every week.”
Terry Farr, 42, of Great Wakering sells garden plants and ornaments and also sells at Pitsea market and Southend’s twice-monthly Saturday farmers’ market Mr Farr, who has been a market trader for two years, said: “I’ve been working with my dad John Farr, whose stall this is, for a couple of years and I’m a gardener.
“It’s quite good. In January and February there isn’t as much money and the weather has been awful, but the farmers’ market has been busy. It’s all good quality stuff we sell.”
Lorraine Robinson, 55, of Hockley, sells fabrics and haberdashery and also has stalls at Rochford, Rayleigh and Pitsea markets Ms Robinson, who has been a market trader for 12 months, said: “It’s building up. You have got more footfall than the other markets.
“It’s just busy. I think it will be really good. It will draw people in if there are different stalls here.
“It will make it like an old fashioned market. We are looking forward to it.”
Mark Taylor, 50, of Colchester, sells bed linen and also has a stall at Rayleigh and Rochford markets Mr Taylor, a market trader for 20 years, said: “We did really well up to Christmas, but have been struggling since.
“The weather hasn’t helped.
"We are going to have had the worst January and February we have ever had.
“There is good footfall here, so we are hoping summer will be really good. You have to establish yourselves. The worst has gone.
People want to see you here regularly.”
Steve Beckwith, 61, of Basildon,sells bags, luggage and purses in Southend, Rayleigh, Rochford and Pitsea markets.
Mr Beckwith, who has been a market trader for 23 years, said: “It’s very good here, very, very pleasing. You get more footfall because it’s a busy town centre.
“The customers want a market and they are very, very pleased with it. I have people who come from Basildon to here.
“It will only get better with the summer and better weather. I can’t praise it enough.”