A free stall offer has been launched by Swaffham market officials in a bid to encourage new traders to come to the town and stay there for the long term.
The move will see both new and existing traders offered one free pitch per month on the Saturday market for the rest of the year from next month, followed by three full free months of pitches at the start of 2017.
Town clerk Richard Bishop said: “This really is making a statement to new traders, saying we really want you to come and trade at Swaffham Market.
“It’s a fantastic way of coming to a well established market and seeing if you do well enough to want to stay as a regular trader.
“It is obviously all about widening our variety of stalls, it is a great opportunity for traders to sample the atmosphere in our town on market day and be a part of our special market community.
“Last year we celebrated 800 years of our market, and this year is all about sewing the seed to make sure the market is still around in 99 years time for our 900th year.”
He acknowledged that the move would generate competition between traders in areas where it was good for the overall market.
But he added: “This is about filling in the gaps so that we can broaden our range of stalls and encourage the general public to support our traders to give them the customers they need to want to become a regular trader.”
Town councillor Sheila Lister, who chairs the town’s market committee, said: “The market means more to the Town than just doing your regular shop on a Saturday.
“Our Market Place is actually just a nice place to be, to have a cup of coffee and meet with friends and family.
“The market is part of our tradition, it is the lifeblood of our town and we have to do all we can to support our traders when times are tough.
“We want lots of new traders to come and join us, you can’t get a better offer than it being free to give Swaffham a try.
“Our Market Committee are 100 per cent behind this offer. We are also the only town in Norfolk that has four of their market traders who serve on the Market Committee, so we are all in this together.
“We don’t get everything right, but we are trying our best to improve and look after the market.”
Traders who want to find out more should contact deputy town clerk Claire Smith on 01760 722922 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.