Granby Street is alive with colour, sounds and smells, as hundreds of people mill around amidst the coloured stalls of its monthly street market. But it wasn’t always like this. Granby Triangle’s remaining Victorian streets were earmarked for demolition almost 20 years ago, as part of the government’s Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder programme. A group of residents set out to take back the streets, painting boarded-up homes, guerrilla gardening – and starting a street market.
Local residents were fed up of living in the empty streets. They decided to take action, to do something to bring the community together, make them want to regenerate the area, make it a place where people would want to live – and remind people that they were still there. They saw what the streets could be, and what the diverse community could grow into. So, on a Saturday morning in 2010, with just a single stall, they began.
Co-organiser Theresa has said that “the market is important to so many people in so many ways. Its original purpose was for the few remaining residents of the Granby 4 Streets to get together once a month. It was also to remind people that we were still there.”
These days, the area is unrecognisable compared to what it once was. Now a hub for the wider L8 community, where everyone can come to meet neighbours and friends. On these Saturdays, the streets that were once empty come alive with cuisine from all over the world, art, clothes and jewellery, bric-a-brac stalls, and even spots to get your bike fixed. Live music and spoken word poetry is the soundtrack for the laughter, friendships, and the growth of small businesses.
The ‘Humans of Granby’ series, run on Granby Street Market’s Twitter, shows real examples of just what the market gives the the community and the individuals that live in the area, volunteer to help run the market, and the stallholders that bring the market to life. For all of these people, as well as those who just pass through, the market has become a highlight that they look forward to each month.
Greg runs a stall offering delicious Caribbean cuisine to shoppers, with his wife Minna and daughter Coral. Greg and his family “love the vibrancy, the sense of community and co-operation between the established businesses, market stallholders, day traders and market volunteers.” Being able to share his cooking with all these kinds of people has helped to build camaraderie with everyone involved in the market and strengthen the diverse community the market celebrates.
Melissa has been at the market for years, selling children’s dresses, tie-dye shirts, baby-grows, baby and toddlers, hair bands and bows, all handmade. Melissa loves Granby Street Market because “it brings diverse communities of Liverpool together in one street, not only the traders but also the customers it attracts; we’re very proud to be part of it.” For Melissa, the growth of Granby Street Market brings not just the L8 area together, but all of Liverpool, and gives people the opportunity to get their products seen whilst building a community that the entire city can enjoy.
On top of that, the market has started cultivating the next generation of activists. Lex’sLAB stall is something he started when he was just six, following in the footsteps of both his mum and aunty, because of the accessibility of Granby Street Market for traders. Sourcing and selling books and magazines that discuss important human rights issues, Granby Street Market has become a place where ideas can be shared, poignant conversations can be held, and young activists like Lex can get out and talk about what they think needs to be said.
The market attracts a wide range of people, with stallholders talking to shoppers directly, forging relationships and growing their businesses. Speaking to Ethos for our issue 12 story, Granby Workshop’s operations manager, Sumuyya Khader said “it’s our immediate local audience and it’s a really nice way to talk to people in person. Or sometimes they’re people passing through who’ve lived in the city, or have moved out and it’s a nice way for them to discover us.”
Granby Street Market has become an essential starting place for small businesses, with people taking their first entrepreneurial steps with a stall. Theresa says “it’s also become a place that is important for people who want to set up a business or try out their ideas. There are several small local catering businesses which started at the market and are now established caterers.” One such success story is that of Luca Sanvittore, who’s catered for several events for the Ethos team – and many more across the city.
Locals may have heard of Fritto Italian Street Food for its famous panzerotti – a famous, deep-fried calzone considered one of the best calzones in England. Fritto is now a successful catering company, as well as selling delicious Italian treats through its mobile pop-ups, travelling beyond Liverpool to cities including Manchester and Leeds, such is its success. Now an award-winning business, Fritto got its start when founder Luca’s cooking was enthusiastically received by shoppers, stallholders and volunteers alike. “Granby Street is where it all began for us, five years ago,” says Luca. “This community market in L8 was willing to give us a chance when we asked if we could try selling Italian street good and our business was born. we also live in L8 and it’s everything a community market should be – welcoming, inclusive and great vibes.”
The affordable stall prices makes Granby Street Market “the most accessible route in to the economy” says Erika Rushton, Creative Economist, and has proved a focal point for regeneration in the L8 area. Started by residents of the streets, the market has empowered its community, to grow, thrive, and become the platform for new entrepreneurs to take off. Houses here have been refurbished by the community land trust; the stunning Winter Garden space opened in summer 2018. Granby is vibrant, visible and thriving.
The market is eager to start up again once it’s safe for all involved – hopefully for a special Christmas market on the first Saturday of December. Yet last month the market lost its equipment in a fire, threatening the opportunity for its traders to get up and running again when the time is right. Its volunteers are running a crowdfunder to replace all of the equipment they need – if you’d like to support it, you can here.
All photos are taken from the Granby Street Market’s social media accounts…