Kirkgate Market: the friendliest place in Leeds

By Amelia Riley

Stall owners in Leeds Kirkgate Market say that they chose to open stalls there because it is a friendly place.

The Market, which sits on Vicar Lane in Leeds City Centre, is one of the largest indoor markets in Europe. Since 1857, Kirkgate Market has allowed businesses to span over generations, with food, fashion, accessories, hardware and much more available to its visitors.

“I came because of the market’s reputation,” said Emily from Stars Accessories, who has had a stall in the market for eight years.

In 2013, the market went through a huge renovation which included the recovering of the roof over the 1976 and 1981 buildings. This allowed space for a communal seating area where customers can sit, enjoy street food and listen to live music.

The owner of a stall called Herbsville has been there long before the renovations and doesn’t think that it affected his business as the popularity of his stall continues to come in waves. He said that it gets very busy over weekends as there is a lot that goes on.

“It’s a friendly place; there’s always lots going on,” he said.

Unfortunately, a lot of stalls weren’t allowed to open when the pandemic hit, Phoebe Johnson from B&M Fabrics said. However, she added that they have had a lot more business now the stall is back open.

B&M Fabrics has been in the market for six years. The original owner, who has sadly passed away now, used to be a wig fitter. When she visited one of her clients, they had a lot of remnants that they didn’t want anymore, so she started a stall outside the market to sell them and the business grew from there until they opened a stall inside.

“I like how cultural it is. You get a lot of characters so it’s always entertaining,” Phoebe commented on the market.

Andrina Dawson has had a volunteer centre open in the market since May / June this year. They rented the spot in October last year but unfortunately, due to COVID, they were not able to open. She said this didn’t affect the volunteering service as a whole however, as people enthusiastically came forward to volunteer and be out in the community.

They used to be located in Merrion House, but they didn’t get a lot of business so decided to move into the market, where they continuously have people walking by and coming in to help or simply just tell their stories.

“This is where we’re going to get a diverse range of people. We want to make sure that we’re reaching people from all different backgrounds,” Andrina said. “Culturally, this is a really cool place to be.”

“It’s part of the city’s heritage,” she added. “I love the atmosphere.”

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