Nearly everyone has a gadget in their pocket which is radically reshaping our planet. The mobile phone hasn’t only berated us from desk-slaves, it has also beaten down barriers between nations. In some cases, it is like international boundaries never existed. It has also taken the ways our parents used to live (as human civilisation had done since the dawn of time) and thrown them out the window. No longer do you need to worry about your kids moving to Australia. In the past, it was as though you would never see them again. Now you can Facetime or Skype them daily as though they were in the same room.
However, that same cool kit that we take for granted is hitting the nightlife in many towns. Some people used to go to clubs, bars and restaurants on a Saturday night to such an extent that TV schedulers had to carefully put the cheapest programmes on when everyone was out on the dancefloor. Those were the days when ‘going on the pull’ meant real life eye-to-eye encounters at smoky bars with conversation almost impossible because of throbbing music everywhere you went.
These days, many of us date on apps like Tindr or Grindr and never need to hang around on the edge of a dancefloor until 4 in the morning to get a girl or boyfriend. It has meant the death knell for many clubs and bars. It has also been compounded by cheaper booze in the supermarkets and tightened drink-driving laws.
So, how can towns recapture that nightlife buzz?
One way could be to keep markets open later and get teenagers involved too. Can Do Places has been looking at the challenge and brings you five things a great collection of open-air stalls can offer:
1. Don’t treat markets as competition for shops
Joe Barratt (The Teenage Market) is at the forefront of a youth enterprise movement in getting teens trading: “Markets are the hubs of our local communities – places where people come together and sell their wares.” This can be seen in a powerful way on the continent where markets create that hubbub that everyone loves. One of the Can Do Places team has just got back from Morlaix in Brittany where the market stretches through the whole centre selling everything from clothing to food: “While people are enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the stalls, they are also bumping into friends and having conversations. They then go to a bar for a beer, crepe or coffee. The market packs out the town and creates a huge buzz of excitement.”
2. Don’t shut at five
My mother went to her local town the other day and was disappointed the market stalls were all packing up at 3pm. This is commonplace; I called in at Abergavenny in Wales the other week and was surprised their market was over not long after lunchtime. Chris Savage from the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) wants traders to think about staying open into the evening: “Traditionally markets have closed down in the late afternoon but they should be seen as a way of encouraging people to stay into the evening in town centres.”
Late opening does happen in some places in the run up to Christmas where German-themed markets sell seasonal food and gifts until the late hours. There is no reason why this could not happen throughout the year. After all, many pubs and bars are struggling because of the lack of footfall. So, if a market encouraged everyone to hang around later, then they might just wander into a bar and socialise or eat out.
3. Get kids trading
The Teenage Market was set up by Joe Barratt to encourage teens to get involved in their community and teach them about running a business. He has been stunned by how they have taken up the challenge: “This is about bringing young people together and giving them a platform that currently doesn’t exist for them. It also gives them an affordable and accessible opportunity to come into their town centre… engage with their local market… sell their product.”
4. Bring young and old together
One of the challenges many towns face is how to get youngsters and older people chatting. Joe Barratt says his Teenage Market has done this successfully: “It is also about being with other young people and meeting the local community and having a good time.”
5. Markets are what visitors love
Markets can be a great draw for tourists because they show a town at its liveliest. Scotland has some great examples such as Kelso Farmer’s Market – described by one critic as a ‘foodie’s playground’. Some markets attract different audiences – like the ‘Urban Market’ at the Drygate Brewery in Glasgow. Hipsters, beer-lovers and foodies congregate every first and third Sunday. Architecture is another draw; a good example is Barras Market in Glasgow’s East End. It is a place of nostalgia surrounded by period buildings and a welcoming iron archway.
Subscribe to Can Do Places
If you feel that this article has inspired you and you would like to hear more, learn more, read more top tips and find out about our forthcoming events, then we’d love to keep in touch.
Why not sign up to receive our newsletter today! Thank you.