Trading on the markets for 50 years
For 50 years, Mohan Singh and his family have been working on the markets. Mohan and his father Parkash started their clothing stall together. Gradually their business grew to cover the whole of East Anglia, including the Bury St Edmunds market, which they took on in 1988. “We had markets in Swaffham, Fakenham, Mildenhall, Downham Market,Royston, Braintree – we covered the whole of East Anglia,” said Mohan, who lives in Ely.
“We have cut down to four days a week with markets at Ely, Downham Market and Bury, which we do twice a week. “But it is not half as good as it used to be. “Costs are going up, trade is going down, we barely make a living. “When we first came to Bury there was hardly any competition–the only shop selling what we are selling was the Co-op.
” But the family say the rise of internet shopping, the arc shopping development and the collapse of the economy have all taken their toll on their market business. Mohan now runs the stall with his son Steven and daughter Gina Kaur. Mohan’s father, Parkash, had run markets and then indoor markets in the North of England before opening his own High Street chain.
That chain was Bonmarche, founded in Wakefield in 1982,which made a name for itself as a retailer specialising in clothes for larger women. Under Mr Singh, Bonmarche grew into a High Street chain with nearly400 stores. He handed over the business to his sons, who sold Bonmarche to Peacocks back in2002. Peacocks then sold on the business early last year to Sun European Partners. Mr Singh died in 2010.
Despite Christmas usually being the period in which a lot of traders and retailers make the most of their money, Mohan admits the run-up to the festive period, for his business at least, was quiet “Twenty years ago Bury was our best market. We still have our loyal customers, but December was no good. October and November were better. “Our best months are June, July and August, when the coach loads of tourists come to town. “Even that seems to be less and less though. “If it wasn’t for them and our regular customers I doubt we would still be here," Mohan said.
Gina said the stall specialised in clothing for older women, but said not as many people were visiting the market as before. “Some people don’t even know there is a market here anymore,” she said. “They stop at the arc and don’t come down this far.” Her brother Steven agreed. “It all started going downhill when the cattle market went – then we got internet shopping – it has all gone against us," he said.
This article is courtesy of the Bury Free Press