Victoria Centre Market: Can we speak truth to power, explain why the fishmonger, the butcher the baker, the nut shop, the plants, the cafe, the bag shop, the fabrics and the quality make up shop are so important to the beautiful shopping mall in the Centre?

Below: George  and Veena Sharma of Sharmas Fabrics, Ravinder and Kamla Kawal of Classic Handbags,  Sandra Handley of Madhouse Cards (and the Nut Centre), Elaine McFarlane of Peggy’s KitchenKamal and Sharda Verma of Top Fashion, JW of JW Stone (Plants and Nurseryman).

Any campaign to save and upgrade the Victoria Market won’t be anything like the crowd funding of the doctors who are driving the People’s Convoy to Syria, neither is it the kind of issue that’s going to stop people getting married, divorced, arguing or shopping but the Victoria Centre Market (the place where I earnt enough on a fruit and veg stall at fifteen to buy my first pair of ice skates) needs  someone to say that the market is a vibrant and diverse space with links across the world to customers of every background. We should never underestimate the value of this kind of business exchange, it’s naive to be snooty about old types of business and new types of business.


Above is the council’s offer to Victoria Market tenants. Rents for existing tenants, older, long established businesses are rising over a three year period and will become unsustainable for many long standing businesses while rents for new businesses and even pop ups are attractive.

Oh No! Not the telecoms and energy provider approach to serving new customers better than existing customers syndrome!

Aren’t  the council and INTU aware that the Victoria Market businesses, like people, have the right to mature and a protected space because of the unique heritage, diversity and value they provide in that small space in the INTU Victoria Centre?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation produced a really interesting report that explains the value that the inclusiveness of markets offers to the rest of society. It shouldn’t be underestimated.

Am I the only person in Nottingham who looks at the skewed demographic in the city centre that leans too heavily on the student (credit) pound and presses too many expectations onto the younger professional generation than is acceptable?

When, I wonder, could some credit be attached to the brilliant people in the market community in Nottingham? Their knowledge, their skills, their contribution, their specialist knowledge?

Like Veena Sharma, (below) who has learnt everything she knows about buying over the thirty years that she and George, her husband, have run Sharma’s Fabrics.


Isn’t this knowledge rare and neccessary for the next generation of makers? Like the entrepreneurial Sandra Handley of the ever popular Madhouse Cards and Nut Centre.


The same applies to Ravinder and Kamal Kawal of Classic Handbags who, like the Sharmas, have set up and developed a bespoke business. Ravinder, a Rolls Royce Aero Engineer wanted to set up a knowledge transfer company but was persuaded by his mum’s family that leather manufacture would be more reliable as both members of the family could participate. Classic Handbags was set up in 1985 and many new products have been designed for the business from the factory in India.


Elaine Mcfarlane worked in Peggy’s Pantry for 10 years before buying it a year ago when her boss retired! She has a real working knowledge of the Victoria Market and how to keep her customers happy and nourished every day. (Not to mention her staff as you can see!).


 JW Stone and Sons started their plant stall in the market square in 1926. Rents are now rising in a way that are becoming unsustainable there’s a three stage process of  year in year out increase which Stone feel most of the businesses  on Victoria Market will find unsustainable, while for new businesses there are good pop up type rents that are encouraging.  Nottingham’s peppercorn rent of 1972 when the Victoria Centre was built has changed massivley. Payment from the businesses to Nottingham City Council and then on to INTU has increased four fold (£75,000 to £325,0000, hence the rises to the existing businesses.


Nikita Richards is the new girl  on the block. She started trading on 1st October this year and has set up two units, Beauty Box, selling branded cosmetic seconds and perfume and aftershaves and Bouji Girls selling a range of jewellery and accessories. Like many of the people I spoke to it was a life changing event (in Nikita’s case, the death of three friends) that made her take the leap from her secure job in finance. Already Nikita and her team are developing regular customers. Pop in and see the range of products, colour, quality and price! Through Paris’s networking on Instagram they already have 3,000 followers. Yay!


Nikita Richards of Beauty Box Victoria Centre Market tel 07446 475866


Why can’t we have a Victoria Market vision, a vision for markets in Nottingham, say like the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne?, the french market in Louisiana or even the London market vision for 100 London Markets is worth a look.

The bold, bright, modern and professional mall needs to be grounded in the common sense of a feeling that there’s a much wider, richer community that is expressed in the market serving everyone. This provides an essential springboard as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation pointed out in 2006 for  new businesses, social integration and cohesion: Victoria Market in its dressed down condition is the root of trade in Nottingham and it would be good if that was recognised.

Why can’t we have an approach to supporting business that’s a bit more inclusive and see how much richer Nottingham becomes?