AFTER four months, the market has finally returned to Colwyn Bay.

Under the guidance of new tender holders Stella McClure and Ben Froment of The Artisan Market Company, the town’s weekly market on Station Road and Seaview Road began trading fully for the first time on Tuesday, July 14.

Taking on the license just two days before lockdown began, the pair hope to now put plans into action, that include its first artisan market, featuring stalls from North Wales artists and producers, every third Saturday of the month.

Stella, who’s vintage and ethical clothing stall The Stellar Boutique is on Station Road, said: “Our first day has been great, we now have an amazing fruit and veg stall from ‘Llandudno Food Renaissance’ with fresh pastas, cheeses and cured meats. That went down really well with the market-goers as it’s something Colwyn Bay has been lacking.

“Understandably there are still many traders reluctant to come back on the streets just yet, so it’s a work in progress and we’re really up against it with Covid. But next Tuesday we have other new traders excited to join us and it will only grow each week.

“We were delighted to see more people out on the streets though, and enjoying the markets return.”

Ben and Stella were already in the process of setting up an artisan market in the Conwy area when they heard that the market was up for tender and “jumped at the chance”.

Stella, who has worked in markets for 20 years said: “The market had dwindled sadly from it’s former heyday and there were only a handful of traders left, so it was no longer attracting big crowds or enticing the tourists.

“But it came with the opportunity and freedom to create something new, with the goal to increase the footfall and bring back a buzz to Colwyn Bay.

“It’s been a challenge that’s for sure, lots of long days and sleepless nights! The hardest part was not being able to meet with the current local traders as a whole to get their feedback and thoughts. Lack of communication and the inability to come and see the market with our new management eyes meant that we missed out on some vital ‘market research’ excuse the pun!

“Overall the support has been great. There’s been some resistance to change but most people are really keen to have something fresh and exciting on the streets of Colwyn Bay and understand the need for something different.”

Alongside the challenges which faced the “dwindling” market before the pandemic - and becoming new parents to daughter Lula Seren seven weeks ago - Ben and Stella have also had to introduce new Covid-19 measures.

Each trader that rents a two stall sized gazebo will now have the whole space to themselves, with the spacing of the pitches increased and hand sanitiser stations for customers as well as a requirement for traders.

Food sellers will sell food on a takeaway basis, while Ben and Stella will manage crowd control.

Stella added: “Sadly we are not putting on the live music and entertainment we had planned for the artisan market at the moment, as we can’t encourage gatherings and crowds.“This is a real shame as our aim for the Saturday artisan market is to create a fun family event with music and merriment, live music is so important to us and is integral to our plans but hopefully we can rectify this soon.”

The market will resume every Tuesday and Saturday, with the first artisan market on Saturday, July 18.