From the mid-eighties onwards supermarkets got bigger and bigger, gnawing away at the retail sector of the trade. It’s become almost impossible to compete now. There are still a few independent shops around, but few and far between. Those that are trading usually own the property so there’s no rent to pay, which is a massive advantage. Everything’s changed now. People sit at home on a rainy day and do all their food shopping online. Sunday trading’s made a big difference as well, because before that if people hadn’t got their stuff by 5pm on a Saturday, they had to go without until Monday.
There’s so few good open markets left now – I think markets are becoming a thing of the past. If it’s nice weather, “Oh yeah, let’s go and have a look around the market.” If it’s siling it down, “Shall we go to Tesco?” At Aldi you can buy your fruit and veg cheaper than wholesale prices – in fact, they’re retail prices from thirty-five years ago
The problem on the Wholesale Market was if you were selling tomatoes at £3 on a Wednesday you might be doing okay, but then the weather might get really good and then all of a sudden everybody wants tomatoes and when you go back to buy them you might be paying £3.80. So when people came on Friday morning and you’d ask for £4.50 they were like, “What?” That doesn’t happen in supermarkets – they get a set price per week and beat you hands down.
At Aldi the other week they’d got cucumbers on at 49 pence, but on the market, they’re 80 pence each. I don’t know what people do with all those cucumbers – it takes me all my time to use half of one!
If I’d told my dad I was going down the supermarket to buy a pint of milk, he’d have looked at me gone out, you know? I’m very much a cash person – cash is king – if we don’t use it, we lose it. When people pay for a paper with their damn card that does wind me up!
I’ve got family in America and they had supermarkets that were open all night way before we had them over here. My relatives would be at work all day and think nothing of going shopping afterwards. That was fascinating to me when I went over to visit them. Gradually it happened over here too, which was good, but also not so good – you don’t get the atmosphere in a supermarket that you do in a market.
I had some good days down Sneinton Market and they will never come back. You know what ruined everything? Parking. City Council wasn’t interested in helping to put the cars where they should be, and then they put the meters up. People aren’t going to pay metre money when they can go to the supermarket and get everything all in one drop.
I think my trade is dying because of the supermarkets and the Internet. People can sit at home in their armchair, go on the Internet, look for something and buy it. You can go on the car boot and buy it for pennies. The supermarkets don’t just sell food, the garages don’t just sell petrol, they sell toilet roll and drink. They sell everything! I think it’s a bad thing – it’s greed really. The garage sells petrol, the corner shop sells chocolate – they all get a bite of the cherry. But when you get people selling too many things, it destroys the shops. It’s convenience. It’s putting small shops out of work.
Everyone and their dog is at it now, they’re on the Internet selling stuff. Somebody gets a piece of furniture now and they go, “Put it on the Internet!” Everyone is quite versed in selling these days – everyone’s a dealer. When they say dealers now, they think you mean drug dealers, but I’m talking about general dealers, buyers and sellers of everything and anything. Nowadays it’s much tougher because of so much competition. The Internet has ruined everything really for a trade such as ours.