‘The big boys can’t match our service’: Ron Granger on trading in Chapel Market
- Credit: Archant
Ron Granger is a third generation Chapel Market trader, and has been there himself for 40 years. He tells the Gazette how they can fight the ‘big boys’.
Everyone knows Chapel Market isn’t thriving as it used to. But the traders continue to fight. And third generation stallholder Ron Granger believes they will always hold one major advantage.
“We do have something the big boys don’t have,” he says. “We give a good service. That’s what it’s all about. It’s what the big boys can’t do, even though they claim it.”
Ron’s family history in the market goes back 120 years. The Grangers originally sold fabrics such as curtains and sheets. His grandad, Thomas, founded the Chapel Market Stallholders’ Association which survives to this day.
Unlike his elders, though, 70-year-old Ron runs a locksmith stall and has done so since 1978.
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As well as keys, he has also profited from Islington’s thriving rodent population. He sells poison and traps for rats and mice, as well as insect repellent. “It’s because there are so many restaurants in Islington,” he laughs.
His first memories of Islington’s most famous market are as an 11-year-old boy. “I used to help my parents on their stall. I’ll always remember how busy it was. All that hustle and bustle. I’d play with all the other kids of stallholders in the alleyway where the cottages used to be.”
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Since taking over the family business 40 years ago, he adds: “I’ve had a couple of breaks from Chapel Market – I moved to America for five years and worked for John Lewis for a couple of years – but I’ve always come back here.
“I like meeting people, and being outside. I couldn’t work in a shop or an office.”
Of the current challenges in Chapel Market, Ron, who lives off Old Street, adds: “It’s a hard time for us street traders. The internet and supermarkets have obviously had an impact, though we do provide better service.
“We have the young entrepreneurs, the young Alan Sugars, but they need somewhere to start. They can’t start at shops these days, as the rent is so expensive. It’s difficult to get on the ladder.
“I’d like to see the council come up with some sort of scheme to help our young entrepreneurs start on Chapel Market. Something like offering a pitch free until they start making profit.”