Glasgow's Forge: What it's like to work as a trader at The Forge Market in 2024

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This is what it is like to work at the historic Forge Market in the East End in 2024

A great grandmother about to turn 70 and a young trader in his 20s are among entrepreneurs setting up business in the Forge Market – and urging others to join them.

The historic indoor market, which holds memories for many Glaswegians visiting as children is home to sellers punting a wide array of goods.

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Like High Streets, the Parkhead market has suffered following the pandemic with 40 per cent vacant spaces but traders believe it is still a perfect launchpad for start ups.

Great grandmother Jean Murray, 69, set up a new shop in the market two weeks ago selling spiritual gifts including a popular witches starter’s kit, home made soaps and Buddha figures.

Former bank worker Jean, who runs Jo Scents said: “I have been here two weeks. Everyone is a character. They all have their stories and there is never a dull moment. People have been very welcoming.”

Jean Murray, operator of Jo Scents at the Forge MarketJean Murray, operator of Jo Scents at the Forge Market
Jean Murray, operator of Jo Scents at the Forge Market | Contributed

Starting off selling online on eBay, she expanded “to set up a physical shop.”

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Liam Boylan, 27, established his stall 10 months ago selling traditional sweets including classics mixed odd fellows and sherbet lemons.

Commenting on the market, Liam said: “For a start up business, it is really good. I am trying to bring back classic sweets. My mum used to bring me here. I have worked since I was 16 and am a qualified baker. I used savings to set up my business as I didn’t get a grant.”

Councillor Thomas Kerr with owner of Be Sweet, Liam Boylan, at the Forge MarketCouncillor Thomas Kerr with owner of Be Sweet, Liam Boylan, at the Forge Market
Councillor Thomas Kerr with owner of Be Sweet, Liam Boylan, at the Forge Market | Contributed

Liam’s goal is to set up an LGBTQ coffee shop selling sweets to offer a safe space.  The Be Sweet founder wants to see more young people coming to the market and new businesses arriving to boost footfall further.

Kenny Madden of Better Choice Flooring is now expanding his business into the Forge Shopping Centre but will keep his units at the market.

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Reflecting on his time at the market since 2018, he said: “It has gone very well.  When young people come in here with their gran or mum they can’t believe what they can buy here. It is unique and it is 27 years old. We have 8,000 folk every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Kenny Madden, owner and operator of Better choice flooring at the Forge MarketKenny Madden, owner and operator of Better choice flooring at the Forge Market
Kenny Madden, owner and operator of Better choice flooring at the Forge Market | Contributed

Kenny said shopping habits have changed and his company is proactive bringing customers in through social media as well as recommendations.

Kenny said: “You need to move with the times.”

The Geraud owned facility, which is Scotland’s largest indoor market, has about 60 traders operating from it. And while some have been forced to close due to tough trading conditions and the pandemic others are having success. Wares include mobile phone accessories, ice cream, clothes and party goods among a wide assortment of bargains.

Local Conservative councillor Thomas Kerr who supported traders trying to get grants in lockdown said he has many happy memories of the place.

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Bailie Kerr said “I used to come here with my gran as a child. I love the diversity. “Every single stall has a character.”

Faten Hameed, chair of the Scottish Iraqi Association said: “I brought my daughters here when they were children and would get curtains and fruit and vegetables.”

Nasreen Aksi who managed and worked in restaurants for 25 years has established a clothes and jewellery store called Style Boutique and enjoys not having to work unsociable hours.

She said: “I’ve always loved fashion and jewellery. I have been here for six years.”

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Faten Hameed, chair of the Scottish Iraqi Association, with Nasreen Aksi who runs clothes and jewellery store, Style BoutiqueFaten Hameed, chair of the Scottish Iraqi Association, with Nasreen Aksi who runs clothes and jewellery store, Style Boutique
Faten Hameed, chair of the Scottish Iraqi Association, with Nasreen Aksi who runs clothes and jewellery store, Style Boutique | Contributed

She would like to see some of the empty units fill up as she said customers comment on them.

Claire Cunningham, of Balloons 4U, said: “We have been here for 20 years. We have watched kids grow up over the generation.”

The party supplier also has units in the Forge Shopping centre.

Claire said she would welcome more footfall to the market and hopes the impending opening of a new huge health centre nearby will bring additional shoppers popping in.

Commenting on whether she would advise new businesses to base themselves at the market, Claire added: “100 per cent I would encourage people to come here.”

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