MARKET MATTERS: Back to roots for Bury cheese man
They call him the ‘cheese and pie man’. Every Wednesday and Saturday he sets up his stall in Bury St Edmunds market offering - you guessed it - a variety of cheeses and pies, including weird and wonderfully flavoured cheeses like sticky toffee and tequila, to salivating and sometimes (understandably) sceptical shoppers.
This wasn’t always Charlie Gould’s plan. Growing up in Manchester, Charlie’s family spent over 50 years in the market trading business but Charlie never thought that he would follow in their footsteps.
“I was always more in the line of doing sport than market trading to be honest,” he said.
“I didn’t believe that I would follow the same line as my family and as far as it goes, I was right because I spent a lot of my time living abroad.”
But six years after returning to the UK, Charlie finds himself running a cheese stall, which is part of a franchise based in Suffolk, as well as another one selling combat clothing on a Saturday, and is incredibly happy with where he has ended up.
“I love it. You get to meet so many different people and see so many different faces and have so many great conversations,” he said.
The years of growing up in the market way of life have obviously rubbed off on him.
When two American customers come to ask about the cheese, the father of two wastes no time in giving them a warm welcome and offering samples of all the flavours.
According to Charlie, being friendly and providing good service is the secret to customers coming back.
“Ever since setting up this stall , I’ve had people coming back on the Saturday, if not the following Wednesday. I even have some customers who will come to me on both days each week,” he said.
“It’s all about getting that regular clientele who know that they are getting a quality product. And when they do come back to me each week and say that they loved the produce and want more, I know I’m doing the job I’m supposed to do.”
Charlie also believes that the market is a good place for his two sons, aged seven and nine, to grow up.
“Having watched me working as a market trader, my kids are growing up to understand the value of money and hard work which is a very handy thing in this day and age,” he said.
“It also gets them outside. They’re out and about here seeing how the process takes place and they love it. They love getting up early in the morning on a Saturday and coming to do a little bit of work and they’re very well known here on the market.”