STORRINGTON Community Market was launched in 1942 as a way for producers and growers to make a little extra money. Deputy content editor, Katherine Hollisey-McLean, went along to meet the people who keep it running.
WHAT first strikes you about Storrington Community Market is how friendly everybody is.
It is run entirely by volunteers, and most of them and the customers, too, know each other and have been involved with the operation for years, so there is a real sense of community.
I was welcomed at every stall I visited, and the volunteers were only too happy to tell me where the produce had come from.
The market is on every Friday morning at Storrington Village Hall in West Street, from 9am to 10.45am, and gets an average of 150 people through the doors each week.
On sale is a wide variety of produce, from cakes and cheeses, to vegetables and plants, as well as a large selection of crafts.
Treasurer Cherril Castle said: “What’s great is it keeps things local, and for a lot of the ladies it’s about the social side, too.
“We’ve got people in their 90s, and for many it’s their only social outing of the week.”
But while the market is doing well, Cherril is also keen to ensure it continues long into the future, and so wants to get more customers through the door and more producers on-board.
The market always welcomes more volunteers, as well.
“If we don’t get more people involved, and younger ones especially, eventually it will decline because if you look around the room, most of the people here are a bit older,” she said.
“It would be a real shame, as it’s a great example of a community scheme bringing people together.
“There has been a resurgence in people doing their own baking and growing things, so we hope they might get involved.”
The market used to be based in the town centre, on one of the old car park sites, but moved to the village hall when that was developed.
Until 2010, it was part of the Country Markets group, but became independent at the end of that year to allow it more freedom to sell what it wanted.
Now, it is run by a dedicated committee of people, led by chairman Sylvia Hyams, who said: “Our customer numbers are going up, slowly, but we’d love to see more people come along. They are always welcome.”
The producers of goods sold at the market get 90 per cent of their profits, after 10 per cent has been taken off to cover the cost of hiring the hall.
Cherril said people can sell as much or as little as they like, with some people selling just one or two jars of jam to some selling 20 cakes per week.
Volunteer Betty Watson has been helping out since 1970, and believes she may be the longest-serving volunteer. She sells the jams, and said it was the community feel that kept her coming back.
The 83-year-old added: “I like the social side and the friends I have made. It’s the camaraderie of the whole thing, really.
“It really would be a shame if it didn’t keep going after being here for so long.”
Throughout the year, the market also holds charity coffee mornings in support of organisations such as Macmillan Cancer Support and the Samantha Dixon Brain Tumour Trust.
To find out more about the market, just turn up on Friday morning or call Sylvia on 01903 745878.