Dave Jackson’s family has run a stall at Chapel Market for over a century. Being born a few feet from where the stall is, it has been part of his routine all his life and he has worked there for 60 years.
The popular fruit and vegetable store, which has always been a staple on the streets, has earned it the title of ‘Islington Market Trader of the Year 2017’.
“I like it a lot here. I just like doing what I’m doing. I can’t sit down,” he says excitedly. But when asked if he’s seen the market drop over the years. years, he can not help but look away. “It’s like everywhere.
He’s not the only merchant who feels this way. Over the past decade, dozens of reports have highlighted the changing demographics of market stalls, which once housed not only greengrocers, but butchers, carpenters and toy makers as well. Looking around the market now, the new stalls now come with phone cases and chargers, and even accept contactless cards as a form of payment. It’s not the same place it was ten years ago, and it’s starting to be a problem.
The London Borough of Islington has many markets, but only five of them are funded by the council: Archway, Camden Passage, Chapel, Exmouth and Whitecross Street.
Chapel Market, located between Angel Station and King’s Cross, has been the heart of Islington Shopping Center since the 1800s. Established in 1879 as Chapel Street, the name was changed to “Chapel Market” in 1936 to correctly describe the atmosphere of the region.
But the outdoor market has undergone many transformations since its introduction to Londoners. It occupied the entire rue du Marché de la Chapelle, with stalls every day of the week.
Now, it occupies less than half of the pedestrianized street, and some stalls are only present on weekends. One of the many factors that contributed to Chapel Market’s demise was the creation of big brand supermarkets, says local buyer Annette Almond.
“You won’t get young people at a potato stand. They get [their groceries] all in one store. You would go to the supermarket because it was convenient, but you would go out because it was too expensive.
The first store to open its own street, Almond recalls, was Anthony Jackson in the late 1950s, a self-service grocery store. The community had never seen anything like it, she said. “When we walked in there it was amazing.”
Anyone who lives near the region is spoiled for choice; a minute’s walk from the famous street there is a Marks and Spencers, an Iceland Foods, a Sainsbury’s and, more recently, a Waitrose.
“People don’t come to the market to spend money” – Aisha caglar
In the late 1980s, Aisha Caglar attended a school near the market and fondly remembers what it was. “The chapel market used to be very busy from the start to the end of the street. Most of the time, students weren’t allowed to pass because we were making a lot of noise, bothering customers.
Now, after raising her two children, she has decided to open her own clothing stand. “I’ve only been here three months and I’m shocked it’s so quiet. There is hardly anyone. They are just people from the offices, or maybe locals passing by, ”she notes.
The location of the market contributes to this sentiment. Rental prices in the area have skyrocketed to an average of £ 482 per week for a one-bedroom apartment, according to a local property seller. Office prices can start at £ 550 per person per month.
The community of Islington has benefited from this new influx; although it is currently the 24th most disadvantaged district in the country, it continues to decline each year. However, income equality has become more prevalent in the region, having increased by 138% since 2017.
This is reflected in the way the Chapel Market operates. Considering that hosting a pitch, the name given to these stands, will cost a minimum of £ 250 per month, it’s no wonder the image of the market has changed as well. The prices keep increasing every year. Traders must increase the prices of their own products if they are to keep pace.
But it’s not a crisis that can be contained only at Chapel Market, Caglar continues. “People don’t come to the market to spend money. Communities are getting richer and richer. If they want to spend the money, they won’t in a market like this.
The rise of online shopping has played a role in declining markets around the world, and Britain is not immune. A recent report from the Office for National Statistics highlighted a similar trend, showing that online sales grew 15% from 2017 to 2018 and show no rate of slowdown.
Chapel Market acts as a microcosm of what is happening all over London. The city’s markets are shrinking in volume and being replaced by other stalls. In Southwark, the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) found that the number of occupied locations fell 59% between 1998 and 2008.
Those who yearn for the “good old days” of the market have become synonymous with nostalgia for an easier childhood in Islington. They remember leaving children in strollers outside while shopping, buying their first electrical appliances at the market, and having a personal connection with the traders.
These customers and traders are steeped in Islington’s history, and while they are sorry that the new generation does not have the same experiences as them, they do not know how to solve this problem.
There have been ideas to revitalize the market in recent years, such as including the London Farmers’ Market every Sunday or entering the Islington Trader of The Year competition. The consensus of the inhabitants of the district is that one day, the market will permanently close its stalls. Whatever the outcome, some of its oldest and most loyal customers will stick around.
As for Dave Jackson, one of the most recognizable faces on the market, there is no other alternative. “We will be here until Doomsday,” he said.