In the 35 years Iain McEwan has been on Bury St Edmunds market he has seen a gradual change in what is stocked on the food stall he and Tony Fields own.
At Tony’s Deli, they have had to cope with the ever changing face of Britain’s high streets as new traders and new types of stores move in to our market towns.
Have customers’ tastes changed, too?
Iain pauses as he thinks back to his early days and says: “It’s not that people’s tastes have changes, you just get different customers.
“Before the pound shops arrived, we would sell a lot of biscuits and cakes, but they’ve all got the same now so you have to diversify.
“We still do things we did 30 years ago, but we’ve invested in the posher end of the market withthings like the cheeses, steaks.
“We do a lot of extra-virgin olive oils and special vinegars.
“There’s more of a deli-style to the stall now.”
The result is a stock that now encompasses a wide range of foodstuffs, but with a far stronger emphasis on cheeses , meats and specialities than they had in the past.
It was originally Tony’s business.
Iain said: “I worked for him then became a partner over the years.
“He’s got 15 years on me, but don’t tell him I said that. ”
They source their stock from all over the country.
“Tony will go to London on a Thursday and do the rounds, and I’ll be in Norwich taking the deliveries from all over,” Iain explained.
The Norwich-based pair only come to Bury on a Saturday, when they are at the St John’s Street end of Cornhill, outside Gregs.
But they also do markets all over Norfolk including Because they do markets all over Norfolk, North Walsham, Wymondham, Fakenham and Diss, Though Iain sounds more like he came from a London street market than a Norfolk smallholding.
But he very obviously loves the market way of life and the sheer variety that working in different places brings.
“ What’s special for me is the relationship with customers that I’ve built up with them over 35 years,” he said.
“Wherever you go you’re going to get different characters, but all these market towns do have such friendly people — they want to stop and chat.
“You get all walks of life so there’s never a dul moment. I thoroughly enjoy it, though it doesn’t get any easier.”