Grays is the largest town in the borough and unitary of Thurrock in Essex and one of the Thurrock’s traditional (Church of England) parishes. The town is approximately 20 miles to east of London on the north bank of the River Thames and 2 miles east of the M25 motorway.
The market can be found in the pedestrianised high street location within Grays Town Centre and over the past few years has become very busy as the town has recovered from the advent of the nearby Lakeside Shopping Centre. The town was hit badly when the Shopping Centre first arrived with many of the shops/ outlets in the town moving over to it. This created a lot of empty space in the town with the only thing occupying it being the market and a handful of shops. However one thing that helped greatly was when a Morrison’s super market was built next to the town centre, between that and the market it encouraged people to come to the town more and others saw the increased footfall and businesses started to open once again in the town centre. The introduction of many new shops and a major hypermarket together with the relocation of the market into the heart of the town have all assisted in transforming the town into a very busy location.
The council are currently looking at ways to improve the local economy and see the market as one of the key factors to help. A new college is opening in the town later in the year (September) and one idea is to improve the evening economy and attract the students, as well as locals, into the town in the evenings. To improve the appearance of the market will be an ongoing plan as ideally all the traders would need pop up stalls in the future to improve servicing times. Therefore it will be suggested to traders that when they need repairs to their stalls or need to replace them, that they purchase pop up ones. Also there isn’t currently many electrical points available for stall holders, another thing the council are looking at is improving this so there is access to electrics for all who trade at the market. Hughmark Continental, one of the country’s leading market management experts, runs Grays Market and it is very much a working progress. The main thing for the market was to survive the impact of the gravitation to the huge Shopping Centre at lakeside, which it achieved. The next stage for Grays over the next couple of years will be to improve the look of the market and add a greater variety of stalls. Something Hughmark Continental is very positive about doing.
The town centre partnership and Hughmark work closely together and are always looking at ideas to help the market and boost footfall. This has included bringing in themed markets such as French and Italian, as well as looking at new themes such as ‘A Made in Essex’ themed market. The idea of this particular market would be to give local people the chance to make and sell their own products at the market and see what it is like to be a market trader, which could potentially lead to them wanting to stand at the general market.
Another idea they are looking at doing in the summer is ‘Street Entertainer of the Year’. This would be run alongside the market, with the aim to bring more people into the town to see all the entertainment, which in turn would lead to them looking round the market. The atmosphere around the place would be fantastic with the traders and entertainers both entertaining the public. It is something that many local people can get involved in, to try and win the title of ‘Street Entertainer of the Year’, for example schools, dance groups, local dramatic societies, poets, clowns, the list just goes on and on. It is guaranteed to be a fun day for all involved. Grays has a big population and anything that the Town Team Partnership and Hughmark can come up with to entice people into the town centre can only be a huge positive for the market. Most commodities are currently being accepted and with the bus and train stations situated very close by it is an ideal opportunity to trade at the market. Also a 2nd hand and Craft Market runs every Monday.
There are two market supervisors based at the market, who are always on hand to help traders and visitors to the market with any queries. They also have their mobile phone numbers on signs around the market making it easy for you to be able to get hold of them. If you are interested in trading at the market or wish to find out more information, contact 0118 945 1799 or visit www.hughmark.co.uk to apply for a pitch.
Managing Director of Hughmark Continental, Lew Hughes, told MTN, ”The management of Grays market is very much a work in progress. First we had to stabilise the market and ensure that it survived. Once we achieved that we slowly built the market up over a period of time so that in season it operates on a 90% plus let basis with Christmas periods being full. The next phase is to improve both amenities and aesthetics by hopefully more electrical supply for market traders and the general transformation from the stalls currently used to more uniform Continental style stalls and we aim to try to bring more food trades in that we are deficient in at the moment. We are aware that whilst we attract a good turnout each week that there is a vast population on Grays doorstep that do not frequent the Town regularly and we are working with the Town Centre partnership to stage special events throughout the year to attract these infrequent visitors to Town more often and make it a pleasant experience. We are not there yet but we are on the right road”.
Telephone 0118 945 1799