A shopping arcade in Chester-le-Street is inviting shoppers to pay it a late-night visit every Thursday until Christmas, and to see all the positive changes that have taken place this year.
Market Hall Shops, opposite the Post Office in Front Street, is usually open from 9 to 5 Monday to Saturday, but is extending its opening hours until 8pm on Thursday 7, 14 and 21 December.
The whole centre will have a festive atmosphere, Kath’s Occasion’s café will be open serving evening meals, and there will be special late-night offers from many of the centre’s independent retailers.
Operated by InShops until 2014, the Market Hall has seen investment and improvements this year under the new ownership of local property management firm Cestrian Estates.
Shop units and communal areas have been spruced up, new illuminated planters have made a sparkly impression on Front Street, and free wi-fi has been installed. Meanwhile, the arrival of Kath’s Occasions in September has transformed the old café space into an attractive, modern tea room with comfy sofas, and is proving popular with local families, shoppers and workers.
Cestrian Estates has also brought in North East retail and marketing expert Graham Soult to help promote and improve the Market Hall, and the centre’s new social media presence at @MarketHallCleS is already winning over fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Graham Soult said: “Offering everything from sweets to haberdashery and handmade gifts to healthy dog food, the independent retailers at Market Hall Shops are a really fantastic asset to Chester-le-Street.
“They make the town’s retail offer more interesting and distinctive, and, by supporting them, customers help to keep jobs and money in the local economy.
“Everyone is very proud of the improvements to the Market Hall this year – especially all the Christmas decorations! – and by staying open late we hope that more people will be able to discover the lovely shops and gift ideas that are on offer.
“The building hadn’t had a lot of love or investment in recent years, and there’s still plenty more for us to do, including filling up our remaining vacant units. However, the feedback from people who are rediscovering the Market Hall is really positive and encouraging, and that’s spurring us all on to keep spreading the word and making things better.”
Daisy Fowler of retailer Daisy Lady Crafts added: “The Market Hall is totally different now. It’s host to retailers offering a wide selection of items for every taste and age, and the place has been uplifted with a coat of paint, new carpeting, and attractive windows that give shoppers a taster of what they can find inside.
“We want to encourage people to come in who maybe otherwise wouldn’t be around at the times we’re open. We’d like them to come in, meet us, talk to us, and tell us what they’d like to see more of!”
For details of all the retailers inside the Market Hall, visit markethallshops.co.uk.
Picture: Market Hall retailers Colin Priestley from Haberdashery Heaven and Daisy Fowler from Daisy Lady Crafts