Friday, 27 September 2013
'Food court' relaunches as Giffin Square Food Fair
I was beset by a strange feeling of deja vu when I opened an email from Lewisham Council the other day, announcing the launch of the Giffin Square Food Fair on Saturday 5 October.
'On the first Saturday of every month shoppers can sample a mouth-watering array of street food and drink from local chefs, bakers and traders including: jerk chicken wraps and fish cakes from The Jerk and In a Pikkle, deli-style breads and pastries from Elvira’s Secret Pantry and freshly squeezed natural fruit juices and smoothies from That Natural Stuff. In addition to hot food and drink, there’ll be music, entertainment and a seating area at the monthly event which runs from 10am–4pm on the first Saturday of the month. '
You must remember the Deptford 'food court'? (yup, still using the inverted commas, still hate the name). Started off with about a dozen food stalls, some rickety benches and live music in Douglas Square in the summer; traders dwindled and was down to a couple of hardy stall-holders after barely a couple of months. I wouldn't exactly say it was launched with any great fanfare, the lack of consistent, ongoing marketing being one of the major things that caused it to fail.
I believe the 'food court' was one of the ideas put forward when Lewisham won money from the Mayor's Outer London for regeneration of the High Street and market. (I also note from that post that some of it was earmarked for recruitment of a town centre renewal manager - anyone heard who he or she is? They are not very visible!).
So a load of stalls were set up in Douglas Square, a few posters were circulated to local bloggers, and that was it. No signs or directions to the 'food court', no flyers being handed out to people passing along the high street on market day, no posters in shop windows or on lamp posts, no Facebook page or Twitter account. No wonder the stall holders gave up and buggered off.
I'm happy to see that the idea has been revived, and made into a once a month event which does make a lot more sense. Putting it on Giffin Street 'beneath the famous his ‘n’ hers mural in the heart of Deptford town centre' is also a good idea. It will give the 'food fair' its own identity and will make it much more visible rather than being shoe-horned between the stalls of the second hand market.
Although this revival was heralded as an initiative by Lewisham Council, I suspect there has been significant input by local traders such as In a Pikkle, who showed more marketing nous than all our 'professional' advisers put together. I know that they were very disappointed by the failure of the initial venture - let's hope that the relaunched version fares better.
Perhaps Lewisham Council should also ask for its money back from whoever was paid to launch the first one.