Outdoor market is the talk of the town as it finally opens to public
It's the latest outdoor market to open on the Fylde coast, but already it has managed to divide opinion.
The new attraction is in Cleveleys, where for the next 14 weeks it is being trialled on a weekly basis every Wednesday, from 8am until 4pm.
Shoppers in the town centre may be forgiven for not spotting the market, at first.
The initial idea was for it to be sited on the wide pavement of Victoria Road West, right on the high street.
But this has proved unworkable, since much of the public footpath in the town centre is privately owned.
So Wyre Council, which is coordinating the new amenity, has decided to locate it on The Plaza, close to the town’s award-winning seafront, at the top of Victoria Road West.
Here, some 10 stallholders could be found yesterday selling alternative cheeses, ladies clothing, perfume and watches, paints and wood stainers and various other items.
The council wants the new market to increase footfall in the town centre each week so that all the businesses can feel the benefit.
But while some shops are fully behind the move, others are not happy.
Julian Brent, Wyre’s market manager, is an old hand at markets and has seen all this before.
He is very optimistic about the future of this latest one.
He said: “When we first opened our street market in Poulton five years ago, I was practically spat at by one of the of the shopkeepers.
“The majority of them were very wary about the market opening and worried what it would mean for their trade.
“Now they love the street market, they tell me that when it opens up every Monday, it’s like having another Saturday.
“Here in Cleveleys , the location is fantastic for summer but the idea is to create an all year round market.
“Next year we would hope to be starting earlier in the season, when the weather is hopefully good.”
The location certainly has all the advantages - and disadvantages - of an outdoor seafront location.
With Cleveleys seafront having won a stack of awards, the market makes good use of an empty space in a prime tourist zone.
On a calm, warm day, it will be perfect, but will it be so inviting when the cold wind and rain comes bursting through from the Irish Sea?
“It’s not a bad place to start off with,” said market trader Phil Flynn, a 48-year-old veteran of the markets who has been in the business since he was 11-years-old and who lives in Cleveleys.
Phil, selling an array of perfumes and ornate watches and a familiar face at Fleetwood Market, says: “Markets always take a time to get going, it needs word of mouth to get around.
“I can’t see any reason why this won’t work, but obviously it will be better during the summer months, when the weather is better.
“It needs a few more stalls as well - the more the merrier.”
Julian Brent is keen to point out that the market will not be limited to a maximum of just 12 stalls, despite that figure being stated in council documents.
He said: “I set that figure initially to avoid customer disappointment.
“There is every possibility we can have more than that, we have the space here.”
But he added: “This is a trial afterall - if the location proves to be unsuitable we do have an alternative.
“I can’t say where at this stage, it wouldn’t be in the town centre, unfortunately, but it would be central.
“But this site on The Plaza does have great potential and for summer I think it is perfect.
“It will increase footfall, and that is the key thing for any town centre.”