Does a foodie town like Malton need a new supermarket?

PUBLISHED: 13:33 10 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:43 24 October 2015

Malton prides itself on its array of independent stores

Malton prides itself on its array of independent stores

Joan Russell Photography

Malton might sell itself as ‘Yorkshire’s food capital’, but it’s got so much more to offer than just great grub

Food glorious food is the driving force of Malton’s upward trajectory but it’s not the only tasty treat on the North Yorkshire market town’s menu. ‘Independent shops are the backbone of Malton,’ said Jez Swallow, owner of Smash Menswear in Finkle Street. ‘The sheer breadth on offer is not something that can be reflected in cities, where the big-name chain stores are king.

‘Malton is definitely on the ascendancy. The foodie stuff has driven it. The food festival is amazing, but it’s also about the delis and restaurants, the bars and the regular markets. They’re all what’s pushing us on. We shop locally because we’ve learned to eat locally. It’s a natural progression.’

Jez opened his fashion-led menswear shop a year ago, building on the ongoing success of his ladies’ boutique in Market Place.

‘We’ve had our ladies’ shop for seven years, so we knew there was a strong market for fashion,’ he explained. ‘You have to work a bit harder in menswear. Men will look in their wardrobe, pick out an old favourite – some very old indeed – and wear that again and again until it falls to bits.

‘I think they’re generally more conservative, so what we offer here has to pass the pub test. If they can wear it for a night out with their friends at the pub without anyone falling off their stool laughing, then it’s just the right mix of fashionable and wearable.’

Smash specialises in British-designed fashion. It’s primarily aimed at the local 25+ market, but it’s drawing customers in from further afield, from York through to Scarborough.

‘The Talbot Hotel (where Malton-born celebrity chef James Martin is in charge of the kitchen) is now a massive draw, bringing people in from further and further afield,’ said Jez. ‘People come for a meal and stay for the day.’

Rachel Sawyer, owner of Tots2Teens children’s clothes shop in Finkle Street, which opened just over two years ago, believes this is mainly due to the groundwork put in by Malton Event Group, Totally Locally and the proactive independent store owners.

‘We are a large and active community – especially through MEG (Malton Event Group) which makes sure there’s always something going on,’ she said.

‘I’ve noticed that we’re definitely getting more shoppers coming to Malton from York and Scarborough. People are actively choosing us over the usual suspects on larger high streets. They want independent shops and personal service.’

Rachel managed an estate agency for Hunters until she had children. After searching in vain for quality clothes that fit her exacting criteria, she decided to set up a shop of her own. ‘I knew there was a market because a lot of my friends were in the same boat,’ she said. ‘It can be difficult running your own business, but it’s totally worth it.

‘You can’t just open your door and hope some customers pop in. We work hard as a town to make sure visitors know we’re here and we encourage our own people to shop local.’

Interiors at Nine to Eleven which, perhaps not surprisingly, enjoys a central position at 9-11 in Market Place is one of the myriad independent shops in Malton working hard to cater for local shoppers while attracting visitors from further afield.

‘We absolutely love Malton – and we’re definitely not the only ones,’ said Shirley Hookway, who manages the shop for owner Sarah Clarke. ‘When people visit Malton for the first time they’re always stunned by our selection of seriously good shops. It’s a shame that some people pass by on the A64 completely unaware of what a gem there is just minutes’ away.

‘If I have one criticism, it’s that more shops don’t open on a Sunday. We do and more seem to be coming round to the idea, but to really reap the rewards, we need the whole town to come on board.’

Malton is obviously not a town to rest on its laurels. Discussions are currently ongoing about a multi-million pound development which would see the town’s livestock market relocated to a new agri-business centre on land adjacent to Eden Camp.

Plans submitted to Ryedale District Council by Commercial Development Projects, Malton and Ryedale Farmers Livestock Market Company and Fitzwillian Trust Corporation, which also include 300 new homes, will be discussed by the planning committee next month, with work due to start by the end of the year if permission is granted.

The lease on the current livestock market expired last year, but the Fitzwilliam Estate, which owns the land, granted a free rolling lease until a new location is secured.

More controversially, plans are also afoot for a major supermarket on the town’s Wentworth Street car park. Ryedale District Council’s planning committee has given the scheme its backing, but there is strong resistance from MASS (Malton Against Super Store), a vociferous campaign group backed by Totally Locally, the Chamber of Trade and the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate.

They appear to prefer another development involving a smaller food store – Booths has been mooted – on the current livestock site, which would result in the retention of the long-stay car park in Wentworth Street.

Fashion supremo Jez is not convinced that Malton needs a major supermarket at the centre of town: ‘People want a supermarket because they think it’ll mean cheaper petrol, but that’s not a guarantee.

And whereas Booths would add to the town’s shopping experience, I’m not sure a major supermarket will do much for the rest of the retailers.

‘The powers-that-be have to bear in mind that Malton is a special and unique place. There genuinely is something for everyone. People don’t want identikit towns – that’s why we do so well. Shoppers are consistently amazed at Malton’s diversity.’

Do you think Malton needs a new supermarket? Let us know your views by emailing feedback@yorkshirelife.co.uk, tweeting @Yorkshire_Life or writing to Yorkshire Life, 1200 Century Way, Leeds, LS15 8ZA.

Totally terrific

If every adult in the Malton and Norton area spent just £5 a week in their local independent shops instead of online or at the big supermarkets, it would be worth an extra £2.6 million a year to the local economy.

That’s the headline message of the Totally Locally campaign, aimed at encouraging Malton and Norton residents to invest in their home towns.

The scheme is part of an award-winning international social enterprise movement set up to support independent retailers with a free branding and marketing campaign to promote the value of local shopping, celebrate the high street, create community events and, ultimately, lift the local economy.

Among the Totally Locally awareness-raising events held in Malton so far are a treasure hunt, involving more than 70 shops, and Festive Fiver Sundays, which challenged shoppers to spend £5 in ten participating stores to be in with a chance of winning a prize haul worth £1,000.

To find out more, visit totallylocallymaltonandnorton.co.uk.

Made in Malton

Food and drink producers are being encouraged to apply to have their products labelled with a ‘Made in Malton’ logo to press home the town’s credentials as ‘Yorkshire’s Food Capital’.

Award-winning Brass Castle Brewery in Chapel Lane, Malton, has already added the logo to its branding, as has Hayloft Foods, which specialises in ‘sexy soups and cheeky chutneys’.

As well as the stylish Made in Malton badge, all members get a reserved stall at the increasingly popular Malton Food Lovers Festival and the town’s monthly food markets, and their production unit is given visitor attraction status as part of the Made in Malton Tour.

If you would like to apply, phone 01653 692849 or email tom@welovemalton.co.uk.

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