In the panic buy madness of March when people were getting to grips with the seriousness of Coronavirus the team at Tameside Markets introduced an innovative new scheme. With many key workers struggling to get essentials a new service was launched for them to get a range of items courtesy Ashton Market Hall. We spoke to Market’s Manager Steve Hadfield to ask how it all came about.
“When we started realising the impact the Coronavirus was having and the guidance on social distancing, we wanted to help those who were isolated that needed support. We understood there were many people who didn’t want to put their health at risk, particularly those in vulnerable groups, but then that evolved to encompass key workers after those issues that bulk buying created. The service is now open to the general public too which means you can contact us, and we’ll do our best to fulfil your order.”
What type of response have you had from businesses?
“We have had fantastic support from traders who have all demonstrated a real commitment to supporting the initiative and our shopper’s needs.”
So, what precautions have you had to introduce to allow these businesses to stay open?
“Well we are fully complying with the social distancing with the number of shoppers we are allowing inside the Market Hall and also with the queuing system to enter. There are floor markings that help with this and we have placed barriers within the Market Hall that just allows access to those stalls that are open as per government guidelines. We also have additional security at the weekends just to enforce the social distancing rules to keep everyone safe. The only entrance now open is facing the Market Ground near the old town hall which gives us better control for access to the site and manage that. Obviously, our team also observe social distancing measures and are spread across our offices here in Ashton.”
Have the public been using the new service?
“Yes, it’s starting to build quite well and we’ve had a few really positive emails from some of the elderly that use the market who say this service has enabled them to continue getting what they need and to support the businesses. We’ve also had appreciation from key workers including nursing staff, teaching staff and local authority work colleagues who find it a really valuable service.”
When the current situation calms will you be continuing with this shopping service?
“Yes, I’d like to think that this situation has now given us more opportunities to connect with and support our market shoppers and the tenants too. We’ve had to quickly adapt and so have some of our traders to expand home delivery and online ordering. We know prior to the virus that the High Street was facing challenges and maybe this will be a key turning point for some of our tenants to grow their business through home delivery and the service we are providing.”
So how can people find out more about the ordering service, open stalls and opening times?
“Everyday we update through our social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and the website. Every morning we speak to businesses to find out what their offer is and any current promotions which we then update on our sites.”
Thanks Steve to you and the team for the important service you are providing and to the shoppers for continue to support their local businesses.