THE Grassmarket has begun to host a weekly market in a bid to make it a “year-round destination” for shoppers.
The Greater Grassmarket BID has been granted a new licence to hold a market every Saturday – rekindling the areas 700-year old origins as a trading post.
The move follows the success of Hogmanay and one-off winter markets which attracted thousands of extra shoppers to the cobbles.
It is being run in the central space at the moment but ultimately organisers say they are looking to expand to the east and west end to give “a smattering of stalls throughout the Grassmarket”.
Georgia Artus, project manager for Greater Grassmarket BID, said it was part of bigger plans to make it a top destination for locals and tourists.
“The main aim of having the weekly market is to make the Grassmarket a year-round destination,” she said.
“Alongside the market we’re planning other large-scale events like Spa in the City, which is normally in St Andrew Square but will also be expanding across to our area.
“We’re planning outdoor film events, the jazz festival is going to bigger and better so the market is going to be part of a much bigger events calendar.
“It’s fantastic to see that after the £6 million refurbishment, we’re finally getting to use it for the purpose it was refurbished for.”
Greater Grassmarket BID acts on behalf of 230 levy payers and the new event is being headed by Beth Berry, who has established Stockbridge market, with regular traders including Au Gourmand Bakery, Blue Bananas, Considerit Chocolates, Edinburgh Natural Skincare, The Marshmallow Lady and Ridleys Fish and Game.
She said: “It’s great it’s now got a permanent future. We are running this market to increase footfall and generally be good for the area.
“We would love to grow it in the future so it’s not just in the central realm space. We’d really like to have a smattering of stalls right along the Grassmarket, encouraging tourists to explore the whole area. Part of the ethos for the market is we are sensitive to what stalls we take so the local shops are not suffering.”
Bill Cowan, member of the Old Town Association and former planning secretary of the community council, said locals had campaigned for a weekly market for 30 years. The owner of Hijinks said most traders and residents were in favour of the weekly stalls.
He said: “We’ve tried hard over the years to try and get it but the problem has been that market operators aren’t interested in the Grassmarket because of its associated problems with parking and things.
“Latterly it has been helped along by the Grassmarket BID group but it wasn’t their idea.
“They have undoubtedly helped organise it and I think it will definitely attract more shoppers.”