Fidget Spinners – You asked for them?

Fidget Spinners – You asked for them?

Thanks to my chiildren in the first instance for drawing our attention to Fidget Spinners, it has taken a while for us to source some high quality Fidget Spinners also known as Finger Fidgets or Finger Spinners.

Could Fidget Spinenrs be as big as the last massive craze at Silly Billy’s which was Loom Bands. Loom Bands took off like the proverbial forest fire in the Summer of 2014 and we could not literally keep up with demand.
Our Phone has been ringing already this morning with enquires about Fidget Spinners and whether we have them in stock and yes we certainly do and they are priced very competitively at only £3.99 each.
We have high quality fidget spinners with decnt bearings  priced at only £3.99, when comparing this to the ones I bought at a major online retailer ten days ago for my teenage children at £7.99 I now feel relatively ripped off by the online retailer in question. (Begins with an A)
Fidget Spinners

“What are Fidget Spinners ?” I hear you ask

At the most basic a fidget spinner is very easy to use. It is, as you can likely guess, a little widget that spins. Usually the mechanism for this is a single bearing with a bigger balanced structure that extends out around the outside of that bearing. So, when you put the bearing on your finger, you can spin it freely- this is all stabilized with help from the gyroscopic action. Obviously if you want to keep things simple, just pinch the bearing and spin with ease. It keeps your hands hectic, and it’s fantastic if you are of a fiddly disposition. My teenage son reckons that having a fidget spinner helps him with the non-biting of his nails.

Fidget Spinners have taken off in production and they range in price from the quite absurd versions made of Titanium like the Rotablade Stubby (also doubles as a cigar stand!) which retails at around £110 to cheaper plastic versions. We have one such high quality plastic version here at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop at the excellent price of only £3.99 and available in blue, red and black colours.
Finger SpinnerFidget Spinners and some feet !

More history on Fidget Spinners

So you may not know that this craze is stems from a Kickstarter project which had aimed to raise a realtively small amount of capital for a Fidget cube project for adult use in the office and has now raised $6,465,690 with 154,926 backers pledged!! For more details about this project take a look here:

Some Other things you can do with Fidget Spinners


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This Danish Company Creates The Best Playgrounds In The World

This Danish Company Creates The Best Playgrounds In The World

LEGO aren’t the only Danish engineers inviting kids to celebrate their imagination. One Danish company is building creative one-of-a-kind playgrounds, and they’re every kid’s dream.

MONSTRUM, founded by former theater set designers Ole Barslund Nielsen and Christian Jensen, has been making elaborate and whimsical playgrounds since 2003. From a giant electric eel swirling around a lighthouse to a princess tower and a rocket ship mashup – these imaginative playgrounds are inviting children to play in Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, and other countries. Scroll down to vote for your favorites, and let us know in the comments which one of these thematic playgrounds you’d want in your back yard.

Welcome to our playground in Liseberg, Tivoli in Gothenburg! Swing in gigantic nets and climb as high as you dare (adults might be tempted too), and enjoy close encounters with solar reflections and giant birds.

Back in the days in 1800-something, when Brumleby was located in the countryside there was a dairy and a slaughterhouse at Brumleby. The idea of the playground is to create a piece of this old Brumleby to remind us of its fantastic history.

Can you imaging anything better on a Sunday morning than to be swallowed by a blue whale? You can climb up on to the back of the whale by crawling through its mouth and into its stomach. You can also crawl through the hole in the side and into the basket, that sits on top of the whale. From here you can slide down.

The story takes place on the African savannah. The Lion Chunga lies comfortably, hiding from the small goats and dreaming of his next meal. Behind the grass you will see a glimpse of the old hut in the trees with two giant slides.

Right next to the National Museum of Bermuda you will find a giant green murray eel wrapped around the a lighthouse.

A large dragon has settled in Mulighedernes Park in Aalborg, so children come play if you dare!

Have you ever dreamed to be the size of the insects? The playground, Futuroscope frames that adventure with tall grass, large flowers and a giant ant.

The Sperm Whale has been the focal point of many exciting stories through times. From story about Jonas and the Whale to the stories on Moby Dick and Pinocchio.

The creepy crawling is all over the large playground in Kristinebergs Slottspark. The two giant owls, both 5.5 meters tall, are the king and the queen of the playground. They are ruling over a large slide area, tempting curious boys and girls to enter both long and short slides.

A pilot has been on a long expedition across the Bermuda Triangle to investigate the many stories about the ships and planes mysteriously disappearing in the area

The background of the founding fathers of MONSTRUM is in building set designs for theatres in Copenhagen. Just like a set design a playground must have an inspiring front attracting children and a functional backside with climbing, sliding and relaxing options.

Childrens Railway Station is an indoor playground on the Danish Railway Museum in Odense. The playground is inspired by Odense station in the 1960s.

The Pike is a very voracious fish that eats everything. In the year 1230 a German Emperor captured a pike that was over five meters long and weighed more than 1/4 ton.

The inside of the submarine is separated by a bulkhead with round manholes. The navigation deck can be accessed via the ladder in the submarine tower. Older children can climb from the navigation deck onto the hull of the submarine.

On DOKK1 (Arhus new main library and citizen service center) you will find the playground Kloden (english: the globe). The project is made in collaboration with Schmidt / Hammer / Lassen Architects and Kristine Jensen Architects. The project was donated by the Herman Salling Foundation.

The coaster has wrecked on a sandbank and is broken in two. The many wreckage pieces, such as boxes and logs are spread out in the water and on the sandbank.

In Terville a large frog is looking out of the water. He tries to catch the flies with his long tongue. So beware you do not get eaten, he may well think you are a fly.

Perhaps two ships have stranded on a small island with a lighthouse and a small lighthouse keepers house? Perhaps they have been lured in there by the people living on the island?

The idea of the playground is a journey through the Russian space program. Meet the dogs Lika, Belka or Strelke and jump on to the satellite Sputnik, the launch vehicle R-7 Semyorka and moon vehicle Lunokhod 1. Climb around and explore the history and feel the rush when you crawl into the big crawling tubes or slide down the big slides. Enjoy!

A cannon is on the way out of the hull, still attached to the deck. It looks just too difficult to get on board, but soon you will see new opportunities to find small routes around the explosion.

The Fortress City is designed as a small adventure land where children can hide and play role games.

You can enter the the 260cm tall Diesel engine through the flywheel, and climb on up to three tube slides.

The playground is located at the third floor level, and you can see all the way to Tivoli from the top of the Japanese tower.

A large grass snake twists and turns on the forest floor. Inside the snake there is a long mazy tunnel in which you can hide from the other children when playing tag.

Lots of giant letters are scattered all over the area, inspiring the children to play and have fun. The crazy, oversized letters have different sizes, colors and play opportunities.

If you as a small child want to feel big go to Flledparken in Copenhagen and visit The Tower Playground with its countless opportunities for physical activity and technological interaction.

Stjerneskuddet is an integrated childcare institution for children aged one to six years in Copenhagen. The playground is divided into areas, providing space for riding a bike, playing ball, climbing and sand digging.

The proud ship S/S Oceanliner is on a long journey. Suddenly, a giant octopus rises from the deep blue sea and attacks the ship.

The fishing boat is equipped with a rudder and compass, so that the children have acces to all the tools they need to navigate the boat safely into port.

Marco Polos old ship has run aground the Easter Islands, and she now lies half buried in sand far from civilisation. Two of the cannons are still intact, but the mast lies broken across the railing

A big parrot with multiple levels inside is the new central play equipment on the playground.

Din Teaterpark in Pildammsparken is designed by artist and scenographer Annika Carlsson together with MONSTRUM, and carried out in collaboration with Malmo Stad in 2013-2014.

Between the long reeds stands a big beautiful pheasant. You can crawl into the body of the pheasant that serves as a playhouse in three floors. Around the pheasant is the 2-3 m tall reeds, where you can climb and balance on ropes between the tribes. Both children and adults can use the pheasant, which invites to play and stay.

You are dreaming about a big and sweet banana or pear, while you are sliding down from an apple, climbing on an orange or sailing away on a melon shell.

It is a hot summer day at the beach. We are in very shallow waters where the bladder seaweed sways slightly in the waves.

The large cod is swimming in the eelgrass with tiny fish around him. It works as a combined climbing frame and hide out.

The Danish cartoon series on Petzi tell about a life of adventure. Petzi and his friends sail their ship Mary to discover new land, solve problems for their new friends, build new things, trade, and play together.

An apple has just fallen from the tree and is now in the grass. You can become tiny and crawl into it and explore.

The large globe fell down, and as it hit the ground all the continents slid off. That is why they are now scattered around the globe all over the playground.

This small city is composed of a series of small playhouses, connected by a network of paths that meander through the small town.

The crocodiles are two sculptural elements on the beach. Here you can play or just sit and enjoy the view.

The Globe is a nice little space that you can reach by a net, a firemans pole or a slide

The spider is designed as a giant mechanical spider being caught in its own web. The head is the control cabin with two joystick controllers to handle all the legs.

This playground is designed like a small section of the forest floor with a ladybird, some branches, and some small rocks.

The submarine has just surfaced after yet another adventure. The wave laps onto the foredeck in large soft shape, a great place to run across

The children in Bispeparken wanted a monster on the playground. MONSTRUM put up a trap and caught one.

A large haunted house, three fluttering bats and a dark forest inhabited by ghosts set the mood of the spooky ghost playground in Varberg.

A huge cargo ship is sunk. Now it is on the ocean floor next to the lighthouse and among cargo crates and fish.

Playhouses in Gyllins Trdgrd float on piles in different heights and provide a lovely view of the area.

A great old Galion has gone down in a storm close to shore. Waves are lapping over the sides of the ship.

The playground consists of a small striped town on the fringe of the forest with a large spider in the middle.

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Lego Batman Minifigures Collection Complete at Last

Lego Batman Minifigures Collection Complete at Last

WOW, it has taken some quite considerable time, probably because Lego made this series 20 collectible minifigures rather than the usual 16, and at last our Lego Batman Minifigures collection is complete, with some help from Chris of Rogue Robot who luckily helped the author (Robert A Williams) find the last minifigure required which was number 15 called Zodiac Master
Lego Batman Minifigures Zodiac MasterSo how has this Lego Batman Minifigures Collection been received, overall good we would say though perhaps lacking some of the buoyancy that went with the first Lego Movie that was released in 2014 and the Lego Minifigure Movie Series which accompanied that.

Here’s a short review of each Batman Movie Minifigure in the Lego Batman Minifigures Collection:

Holiday Batman

Exactly what does Batman love finest in life? To squash his enemies, and see them owned before him, while he sits in a rubber ducky afloat in a pleasant swimming pool. I mean, it cannot all be late nights perching on high structures and looking moody, right? Giving a whole new significance to “Batsuit,” Batman has actually worn black swimwear embellished with small yellow bats on both front and back.

Commissioner Gordon

The grizzled ally of the Dark Knight, Commissioner Gordon’s got a fantastic old-school investigator appearance with a shoulder holster and a leather badge holder hanging from his belt. He carries a standard radio and a wanted poster for Gotham’s well-known prankster, The Joker.

Nurse Harley Quinn

Nurse Harley Quinn wears a white lab coat with fantastic red highlights. Her pink gloves extend as much as printing onto the sleeves, and she’s got laced red boots through double molded legs.

Harley’s hair is a complicated red and black double mold, and her nurse’s hat is a separate piece which utilizes the basic plume connection. She brings a chart for Arkham Asylum on which she’s been doodling love notes to the Joker in between seeing clients..

Glam Metal Batman

Have you ever wondered exactly what Batman’s side pastime is? Well, question no more. Batman plays in a KISS cover band, inning accordance with this figure. He’s got a basic serrated cape, and dark grey legs with black and silver printing, and a substantial bat-buckle, and naturally, giant black wrist bands.

Dick Grayson

The junior member in Batman’s band of crime-fighters, Dick Grayson will play a large role in The LEGO Batman Movie, where he’ll be voiced by Micheal Cera. Dressed in a wise red sweater (adorned with a duck theme front and back) and traditional blue jeans, Dick carries a can of shark-b-gone, with the dark blue 1 × 1 round brick printed with a No Sharks emblem on one side and “Shark Repellent” emblazoned on the other.

Arkham Asylum Joker

The master villain has been committed to Arkham Asylum, which includes a set of smart orange jumpers. His one accessory is handcuffs, due to the fact that he cannot be wandering about loose.

Few figures in the series have double-sided heads, however the Joker’s snaggle-tooth pout and pitiful frown pairing make this figure definitely worthwhile.

Barbara Gordon

Daughter of Commissioner Gordon, Barbara (voiced by Rosario Dawson) is a design policeman, looking exceptionally clever in her dress blues. She brings a bat signal and a pair of handcuffs for the miscreants who seem to be so commonplace in Gotham.


Intense as the night, prepared to catch unwary prey, it’s CATMAN! No, this isn’t actually Batman as Wolverine. Catman is a Batman villain initially presented in 1963, where he was a huge game hunter.


A bad guy with a marine propensity, Orca shape moves his way through criminal offense. This white and black figure is easy, without any accessories.

Fairy Batman

Due to the fact that in some cases Batman simply has to feel quite pink.

Fairy Batman’s got a pink leotard and tutu over top of his black bat armor. The intense pink tutu initially appeared in white in the Collectible Minifigures Series 15 Ballerina. The torso and helmet are brilliant pink, and the ballet slippers are dark pink (courtesy of the double molded legs). Fairy Batman has trans-pink insect wings, and brings a trans-pink wand.

Red Hood

A well-known villain by another name, Red Hood is the Joker’s pre-acid-vat-dunk guise. Using a red bell jar (a new color for that piece), Red Hood has a handsome bow tie and a serrated red cape, and brings double gatling gun.

Beneath the bell container hood, Red Cape bears more than a passing similarity to Deadpool.

Pink Power Batgirl

Batgirl (aka Barbara Gordon) takes the Dark Knight mindset and turns it completely. Dayglow pink is the method to go! Her upper body, skirt, and boots are dark pink, and she wields a dark pink Batarang.

Clan of the Cave Batman

If you’ve ever desired a Neolithic Batman minifig, LEGO’s got your back. With a bring leopard-print toga and stone-carved batbrooch, Clan of the Cave Batman carries a big club.


Zodiac is a criminal mastermind with misleading prowess, skilled at tricking the criminal world into believing he can inform the future. Zodiac has an intense light blue body and legs covered in astrological indications, and a small various shade head (medium blue) with a Z on it.

The Calculator

Similar to Batman, the Calculator depends on shrewd to outmaneuver his opponents. Nevertheless, the Calculator utilizes algorithms, not mental skill, to evaluate challengers and determine an optimal technique. With white power-armor and a timeless white helmet over a lavender upper body, the Calculator doesn’t have any devices beyond his wearable computer.

King Tut

Nothing states fearsome extremely bad guy like “rampaging Egyptologist.” King Tut has an elaborate dark red Egyptian bathrobe with dark blue and gold fringes, and bears a dour expression.


The Eraser is here to chew gum and eliminate things, and he’s all out of gum. Seldom has a super villain’s objectives been so well lined up with their guise. Dressed like an enormous #2 pencil in a bright light orange pinstriped fit

The Eraser’s head is a new piece. It’s a dual molded bright light orange and flat silver 1 × 1 round brick that’s 4 plates high, with detail rings around it. The eyes are printed on.

The Mime

A deadly but quiet bad guy, The Mime is a martial arts master with a flair for the theatrical. She wields two lightning bolts, and sports a dark blue mohawk (a brand-new color for that piece).

Lobster-Lovin’ Batman

Often, late at night, Batman gets starving hungry. When you’re as rich as Batman, you don’t opt for a piece of string cheese and remaining pizza; no sir. You choose lobster. Batman has actually been taking it easy in your home, lounging about in his dark red robe which almost matches the wallpaper in the 1966 Batcave. Batman’s expression is special to this figure.

March Harriet

March Harriet is an unexpected addition for The LEGO Batman Movie, given that she’s an escort by sell her introductory comic in 2008. Her strapless bunny suit is medium dark flesh, with light flesh arms and head.

Lego Batman Minifigures Collection

There ends a short piece about each Lego Batman minifigure and we hope you made it to the end and enjoyed this post.

If you have made it this far then why not follow Silly Billy’s on Facebook as well!

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Hebden Bridge Market has moved

Hebden Bridge Market has moved

Dave Young has given us some useful information about Hebden Bridge Market which we would like to share as some visitors to Hebden Bridge may not be aware of the new Hebden Bridge Market situation so here it is straight from the Horse’s Mouth, as it were:
The new Hebden Bridge Market is up and running today (thursday 13th  at Lees Yard. It will be a 4 day Hebden Bridge Market. Thursday as Usual, Friday – Bric-a-brac, Saturday Local Artisan Market – Arts & Crafts etc and Sunday Local Produce Market.

Hebden Bridge Market Transfers to Lees Yard

The new, and hopefully better, Hebden Bridge Market opens on Thursday 13 April 2017 (today) in its new area of Lees Yard on the side of St George’s Square.

Work has been happening over the last 10 weeks to prepare the site for the all new Hebden  market. Alterations have actually been made to the existing format and also include a new prep work unit for traders, storage facility for stalls and also public lavatories.

Along with the regular Thursday market, the bric-a-brac market which typically opens on a Wednesday will change to every Friday, in Lees Yard, from Friday 14 April (Good Friday).

There will also be an added, new Saturday market, selling crafts as well as craftsmen items. This will be every Saturday, from 15 April.

The Sunday local produce market will stay in Lees Yards and will now open each and every Sunday

Dave Young was at the market this morning for an interview with BBC Radio Leeds which was broadcast earlier today

For more details about Hebden Bridge Market moves and changes please visit Calderdale’s website at:

hebden bridge market Hebden Bridge Market

This Weekend is Easter Weekend

Also with moves and changes we have Easter Weekend coming up which, all being well, will be busy both for us as one of Northern England’s Premier Toy shops and also for all the rest of Hebden Bridge. The exciting Hebden Bridge Duck Race is happening on Easter Monday and if you don’t have a ticket yet we strongly recommend buying one as the prizes this year are better than they have ever been, including the possibility to Win a Holiday !

Silly Billy’s have been busy getting some exciting New Products for Easter ranging from New Sylvanians to New Pocket Money Toys, we have toys and games to suit all age and budgets here in Hebden Bridge. If you haven’t been to Silly Billy’s Toy Shop we would love you to visit and if you cannot visit us in person then why not head over to Silly Billy’s Facebook page and give us a like, it really helps us out when people like our social media profiles, we are also on Twitter and Pinterest.

Have you seen our new Doll’s Range yet, a recent introduction into Silly Billy’s Toy Shop

Coming Soon Fidget Spinners

Another very good reason to keep an eye on Silly Billy’s Toy Shop Facebook Page is that often we put new product lines that we have received directly into our shop and next week we hope to be having our first delivery of the very exciting
fidget spinner

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Hebden Bridge Duck Race 2017 – New Products

Hebden Bridge Duck Race 2017 – New Products

Hebden Bridge Duck Race 2017

New Products in the Shop for Easter Holidays

Soon Hebden Bridge Duck Race 2017 will be upon us. Last year’s Hebden Bridge Duck Race was well attended although not as well as the Hebden Bridge Duck race of 2015. This was due to the disaster that befell Hebden Bridge on Boxing Day 2o16.

This year we are hoping the Hebden Bridge Duck Race will be a huge event with hopefully even more people attending than there were in 2015. Again because of Bill’s love of Chelsea FC we are supporting the Blue Team in the business Duck Race challenge, the author’s (Robert A Williams) feeling though is that the Red Team, supported by Cafe Solo, Homely at Hebden, and others will triumph.
homely Abode

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Magic Cards and More

Magic Cards and More

New in Jamie Raven Magic Cards and much much more

For many years we have been asked if we have any Magic Tricks or Magic Cards in our shop and now, after a great deal of searching and Bill finally meeting Jamie Raven at the London Toy Show this year. We are happy to say that we are now Stockists of Jamie Raven Magic Products. We have four lines just arrived: (£9.99)

  • Jamie Raven’s Magic Of The Mind, Magic Set
    Create your very own Magic of the Mind! Learn directly from among one of Britain’s most gifted magicians and impress your family and friends with mesmerising Mind Magic tricks! Developed by the Britain’s Got Talent sensation Jamie Raven, the Magic of the Mind Set not only consists of all the components needed to perform multiple tricks but also includes a secret on-line link! Pick up from the very best and watch as Jamie teaches you how you can perform many astonishing tricks such as Synchronicity and Destination Unknown. As well as demonstrating the secret techniques required to perform the tricks, Jamie also offers plenty of hints and tips along the way to make sure you deliver a spell-binding performance every time! The gifted magician, who wowed audiences and judges alike with his extraordinary magic skills on the 2015 series of Britain’s Got Talent and finished as ‘Top Human’, is one of the most watched magicians in the world with over 300 million online views. Jamie has also appeared on numerous high profile TV shows, headlined the record-breaking West End show ‘The Illusionists’ and has sold out theaters throughout the UK. The Jamie Raven Magic of the Mind Set is ideal for children 8 years and over and makes the perfect gift for anyone fascinated by magic. There are four innovative Magic Sets in the series so budding magicians can advance their skills even further with the Jamie Raven Card Magic, Street Magic and Sleight of Hand sets.
  • Jamie Raven’s Street Magic Set
    Perform your own Street Magic! Learn directly from one of Britain’s most gifted magicians and amaze your loved ones with mind-blowing Street Magic tricks! Developed by the Britain’s Got Talent phenomenon Jamie Raven, Street Magic Set not only contains all the components required to perform multiple tricks but also includes a secret online link! Pick up from the best and watch as Jamie teaches you how to perform many astonishing illusions such as the Jumping Rubber Bands and Currency Destruction tricks. As well as demonstrating the secret techniques required to perform the tricks, Jamie also offers lots of hints and tips in the process to make sure you deliver a spell-binding performance every time! The gifted magician, who wowed audiences and judges alike with his extraordinary magic skills on the 2015 series of Britain’s Got Talent and finished as ‘Top Human’, is one of the most watched magicians in the world with over 300 million online views. There are four ingenious Magic Sets in the series so budding magicians can advance their skills even further with the Jamie Raven Card Magic, Magic of the Mind and Sleight of Hand sets.
  • Jamie Raven’s Card Magic Set
    Card Magic! Learn directly from among one of Britain’s most talented magicians and amaze your friends and family with mind-boggling Card Magic tricks! Developed by Britain’s Got Talent sensation Jamie Raven, the Card Magic Set not only contains all the parts required to perform multiple tricks but also includes a secret on-line link! Learn from the best and watch as Jamie teaches you how to perform many astonishing card tricks, for example, the incredible Four of a Kind and The Joker Knows. As well as demonstrating the secret techniques required to perform the tricks, Jamie also offers plenty of hints and tips along the way to ensure you deliver a spell-binding performance each time
  • Jamie Raven’s Sleight of Hand Magic Set
    Deliver your very own mind-blowing illusions! Learn directly from one of Britain’s most talented magicians and amaze your friends and family with astounding Sleight of Hand Magic tricks! Developed by the Britain’s Got Talent sensation Jamie Raven, the Sleight of Hand Magic Set not only contains all the components required to perform multiple tricks but also includes a secret online link! Learn from the best and watch as Jamie teaches you how to perform many unbelievable illusions such as the Jumping Coins and Magnetic Pen tricks. Additionally demonstrating the top secret techniques required to carry out the tricks, Jamie also offers lots of hints and tips in the process to make sure you deliver a spell-binding performance every time

Magic Cards


Aquabeads are a product that we have been asked for in the past. “What are aquabeads?” I hear you ask
Aquabeads were developed in Japan, where they have succeeded in the market since 2004. Now they are sold in over 30 countries!
Aquabeads are unique beads that stick together with water. No heat is necessary so children can enjoy the whole process from the beginning to the end which will provide great enjoyment. They are actually a fun and non-toxic product for children to enjoy hours of innovative creativity!
Aquabeads are perfect for children aged 4 years old and upwards.

We have in stock:

  • Aquabeads Complete (£9.99)
  • Four Aquabeads Theme Refills (See image below)

Also we have recently replenished our Sylvanians Stocks and now have many many more Sylvanians Familes, Babies and accessories in store.

Why not come and Visit Silly Billy’s Toy Shop in Hebden Bridge Today

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Traditional retail markets and the battle to stay afloat – BBC News

Traditional retail markets and the battle to stay afloat – BBC News

Traditional retail markets and the battle to stay afloat – BBC News

British markets are seen as a microcosm of the city or town in which they are based, encapsulating the diversity of communities and skills a place has to offer.

But with some being sold off due to their prime locations and others fighting for their existence due to the rise of discount supermarkets and online retailers, will generations to come be able to enjoy them?

BBC News has been to Kirkgate Market in Leeds, winner of “Britain’s Favourite Market” for the second year in a row, to find out how it is adapting to changing trends.

Among the 170 stall-holders, optimism for the future is mixed with serious concern about dropping footfall and the rising costs of renting floor space.

Near an entrance to the 1904 hall, with its glass roof and cast-iron balcony, sits North African and Middle Eastern food vendor Cafe Moor.

 Owner Kada Bendaha set up his stand after a life-changing breakfast in the bustle of London’s Borough Market and its speciality food stands.

“The beauty of a market is you have that one-to-one contact, you build that relationship with your fishmonger or butcher,” he said.

“If you go to the fish section, there’s a gentleman there who has been there for 38 years, you go and ask him about a particular fish, he knows the business inside out.

“Go to a supermarket and you will have a student who is just working part time there, it’s not the same.”

Dating back to 1857, Kirkgate has become one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, selling fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, clothes, jewellery, haberdashery, flowers and hardware.

The booming voice of a butcher offering the day’s best prices still echoes down its walkways, although e-cigarette stands and racks of iPhone covers tick off some modern requirements.

It has been a turbulent time for the Leeds City Council-run market over the past couple of years, with temporary walls and scaffolding becoming a familiar sight during a 13.7m renovation.

Despite the council reducing rents during this period, stall-holders have complained of regulars becoming put off and heading elsewhere.

Yearly footfall at Kirkgate dropped significantly from 718,000 in 2014 to 628,000 in 2015, but the number rose again to 699,000 in 2016.

Leslie Burwell, of Whitaker’s Farmhouse Eggs, has worked in the market for 25 years in total.

She said: “It used to be heaving, you couldn’t move for people down the aisles, there was an atmosphere with people shouting.

“They’ve taken all of the shops out of one section and made a big wide open space – they have spent millions of pounds and have nothing to show for it.”

Kashif Ali Raja, who recently took over Spice Corner, said he was positive despite widespread change.

He said: “When you start a business, you have to work really hard. There’s early mornings, working late.

“We sell seeds, fresh vegetables, things which are very difficult to find in Leeds, this is the only place you can get it.

“I don’t think recent changes have made any difference, because the regular customers are the same, they will always come.”

The outdoor section of Kirkgate, with its fruit stalls, luggage-sellers and flea market, is where Michael Marks opened his Penny Bazaar, leading to the founding of Marks & Spencer in 1890.

The patch now sits a stone’s throw away from the newly-opened 42,000 sq m Victoria Gate complex, a 165m retail development featuring a flagship John Lewis store.

Leeds City Council wants the market to be able to take advantage of the expected increase in shoppers in the area, but not everyone feels it will make a difference.

Julie Carr has worked in the outdoor section for 35 years and now sells second-hand toys and collectables at her stall.

She said: “The new John Lewis has made no difference to us, I don’t think their customers and ours are connected at all.

“My theory is in 20 years there will be no shops, no markets, everything will be online and people will say ‘I remember when we used to go to the market’ – and they’ve gone.”

The market’s 1976 Hall has seen the most significant change, with the space transformed into a brightly-coloured communal seating area, where established “street food” traders have decided to set up permanently.

A rotating schedule of craft fairs, live music and kids’ entertainment is used to draw people in, with long tables encouraging those new to the market to get chatting to those who have been regulars for decades.

One of the new food traders is the Yorkshire Wrap Company, selling hot meals wrapped up in a Yorkshire pudding.

Michael Pratt, who runs the stall, said: “First impressions are good, word of mouth seems to be getting out about the new food hall area.

“It’s bringing a lot of different faces into the market, people who maybe wouldn’t have usually come here.”

He added: “Markets give a sense of community and the ability to get everything under one roof, great produce for great prices. I think they’re going from strength to strength.”

Down in the basement of the top end of the market, Brian Bettison has been providing haircuts since 1982. He said rents for stalls had gone “up and up and up”.

He said: “They’ve had numerous different ways of doing it through the years, it was measured on square footage, it was zoned into the most desirable areas.

“Everyone now has different agreements with the markets, nobody will let you know, they will keep it to themselves.”

What do the shoppers think?

  • Anna Woollett, 30, from Meanwood in Leeds: “I buy all of my fruit and vegetables from here, because I like to buy food fresh and it’s far better quality than in supermarkets and lower prices. It’s a really big part of my life. If I had to move to another city, one of the first things I would check out is if there’s a decent market.”
  • Maurice Collinson, 81, from Beeston, Leeds: I’d like to see more stalls come in but they can’t afford them as the prices are going up all the time. I’ve been coming here all of my life and it’s a beautiful building, the top half is really what it used to be, it’s really good.”
  • Paul Eccles, 50, from York, said: “The international food here is fantastic, stuff from north Africa, Asia, it’s great. I’m from Blackburn originally and the market has shut down and it has killed the town centre, it’s important they invest in them.”

  • Close to where the indoor market meets the outdoor section, Cheryl Murtheh has been selling cosmetics for 16 years.

    She said: “They’re giving cheaper rent to newcomers coming in, but they should lower the rents of people who have been here a long time.

    “What happens to the people who have been keeping you going for years, shouldn’t they be entitled to something as well?”

    According to the National Association of British Market Authorities, from 2009 to 2016 the number of market traders in the UK dropped from approximately 55,000 to 32,000.

    The recession has been highlighted as a key reason for this, although there is some evidence the sector as a whole has started to turn a corner.

    The National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) said traditional retail markets currently have a collective annual turnover of 2.7bn, with the figure increasing by 200m year on year since 2013.

    Like Kirkgate, several markets across the UK are adapting to modern trends to cater for younger shoppers.

    Many have introduced hot food areas, improved their branding, have extended opening hours and provided free wi-fi.

    Joe Harrison, chief executive of the MNTF, said: “It’s easy to follow trends, but five years down the line you may realise you’ve got nothing.

    “They need to make sure careful steps are taken to keep them popular with the next generation, but it needs to have that social value, dealing with every demographic rather than focusing on one specific thing as it’s currently the most economically viable.”

    Leeds City Council said visitor numbers were now “on the up” since the refurbishment, with the number of vacant units “also reduced significantly”.

    A spokeswoman said: “We recognise that there is still some way to go but we are very optimistic that more and more visitors will continue to discover the traditional charm combined with the new modern areas that Kirkgate has to offer.”

    Clearly the market has reached a key moment in its history, with bold decisions about the site’s future use being made.

    While serving up mint teas and chicken shawarmas to lunchtime customers at his food stand, Mr Bendaha said: “This is not just a full-time job, it’s a lifestyle and it’s a big part of the city.

    “Hopefully it will never die.”

    Related Topics

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Silly Billy’s Toy Shop is located in the wonderful town of Hebden Bridge in Calderdale.
There are regular outdoor markets in Hebden Bridge.
Also regular Farmer’s Markets in Hebden Bridge on 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sunday of each month.

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