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Bootle Market

From a first glance at its name, Bootle Indoor Market would appear to be just that: a market. However, with the festive season in full swing, it is proving to be more than simply a treasure trove for Christmas shoppers.

Located on Bankhall Street, the market was once home to Bankhall Shopping Bazaar. However since taking over earlier this year, owners Jim and Larry Murphy have renovated the warehouse into a community hub, complete with over 30 stalls, an antique shop and a cafe.

“It’s a fantastic day out, you’ve got everything you need,” says Jim. “You’ve got 31 stalls and an antique shop bigger than I’ve ever seen. There’s disabled access from Ford Street and we’re dog-friendly too.”

Despite only being open for a few months, it has already had massive success – in fact, it was recently named as one of the top ten markets in Liverpool.

“It’s a proper community feel as soon as you walk in,” says manager Paul Nicholls. “It’s a good place to work, we’re all like family and friends here. We all pull together – if one person’s sick we’ll cover their stall.”

“It’s a fantastic day out, you’ve got everything you need... You’ve got 31 stalls and an antique shop bigger than I’ve ever seen. There’s disabled access from Ford Street and we’re dog-friendly too.”

Paul stressed the importance of supporting local businesses, particularly during Christmas when market traders will be wanting to provide for their loved ones.

“There’s too many markets getting closed down, so there’s nowhere for people to go now,” says Paul. “If you go to the Asda, you’re giving big corporations your money. Here you’re giving the likes of Tony the meat man money to provide for his family.”

The market runs on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 3.30pm, but owner Jim plans to keep the cafe open seven days a week. This coincides with the Old Griffin antique shop’s recent move to above the market.

“We’ve built a cafe which has become sort of a community hub for people now,” says Jim. “Lonely people come down and have a cup of tea and meet others. It’s really bringing people in.”

Alongside the cafe and antique shop, bargain hunters can find a florist, a sweet store, several clothing stalls, a spiritual wellbeing stand, vinyl records and plenty more. Entertainment is provided in the form of live singers – an Elvis Presley impersonator recently visited the building. Jim says more stalls will join the market, with over a dozen traders on the waiting list.

Billy - Bootle Market

“It’s seen a steady increase in visitors,” revealed Jim. “The first week only about 30 people came, which was a bit worrying. But, any given day since then, up to 200 to 300 people walk through.”

In the run-up to Christmas, the Bootle Indoor Market team is planning to spread the festive spirit across the local area by giving 50 free dinners to underprivileged families.

After reading an article about a family living on the breadline, Jim was inspired to provide Christmas dinners for those who are facing hard times. He says if it’s a success, the initiative could surpass the festive season and become a monthly event.

“I want to give something back to the community,” said Jim.

Christmas dinners will be provided to families on December 16, 17 and 19 – and it’s a group effort. One of the market’s stallholders will provide toys, while Jim’s friend will offer meat and veg. Local resident Mark Pike will don the iconic red suit and white beard.

For Mark, being Father Christmas is his way of giving back to Jim and Bootle Indoor Market after saving his life. “I don’t want to go too deep, but this place has saved me,” he says. “I’ve been coming to these warehouses for over 30 years doing table sales, car boots or what have you.

“When the previous place (Bankhall Shopping Bazaar) shut down, Jimmy took over and I was quite glad because, on a personal note, I needed somewhere to go. He’s took me under his wing. I come down and have a coffee and it gets me out the house. It’s good for me.”

Jim adds that the building will be a drop-off point for toys, as part of Radio City’s Cash for Kids Christmas scheme. The charity is currently looking for donations for unwrapped gifts for children who are in danger of waking up to no presents on Christmas Day.