Traders at the food market in Camden have reacted with anger and disappointment to new plans for the space, which is set to be turned into a more upmarket eating area at their expense.
Current stall holders say that the change amounts to little more than gentrification, as the lower rent stalls are closed down and reopened under a new management system. They fear that they will no longer be able to afford the stalls which provide their livelihood.
The reaction comes after Camden Market Management issued a notice to stallholders, letting them know about the proposed changes. They have made a new partnership with KERB, a street food business which already runs markets in areas such as King’s Cross and the City. KERB will provide higher quality street food with a revamped look.
The last day of trading under the current stallholders has been set for July 10, a Sunday, with the market set to close for renovations after that date. It will then reopen on the 22 July under the new management. Stallholders are permitted to reapply for their pitch, but many say that the increased rent will simply make it unprofitable for them to continue.
A centralised payment system is also being objected to, with the feeling that it goes against the current market culture.
Many stallholders feel that the change is simply not necessary, especially given the fact that Camden attracts a unique crowd thanks to the particular charm that it presents.
“What KERB is trying to do is for it to become more like Borough Market or Spitalfields Market, more high end. I have got nothing against Borough Market, but it’s already there, we don’t need to have it again,” says Kimberley Duke, a 23-year-old stallholder who has been part of the market for 2 years. “KERB already have their own traders, and they’ve upped the rent… I’m heartbroken, Camden is so rich with culture, and I really feel that it’s losing a part of its heart.”
Ms Duke has now set up an online petition, asking to continue her business at least until the end of summer.
Other traders are similarly disappointed. One says: “Some of the rents are doubling, some are tripling, so I’m not going to apply.”
“To make a profit on their terms we’ll have to double our prices and who’s going to buy a sandwich or a kebab or whatever for £10?” asks another.
No Backing Down
Meanwhile, the management and their new partners are not backing down. “We are pleased to say that the vast majority of West Yard food traders have expressed an interest in becoming part of KERB Camden Market and a number have already applied,” read a joint statement. “Every single application received will be given careful consideration and we will be speaking to traders in due course about the outcome.”
Do It Your Way
If you are interested in setting up a food stall of your own, then you don’t need to wait for one of our chef jobs to do it. All you need to do is get set up on your own. First you have to find a place to pitch your stall, normally by renting from a local council, and then set up advertising and cooking equipment.
You can normally find equipment on sale from previous stallholders or at auction, as well as online if you want to start with brand new tools. Then it’s a case of opening up shop and seeing who comes to eat!