A new breed of shopper has been spotted at Portobello Road Market

By Owen Sheppard, local democracy reporter

Portobello Road Market is starting to recover to its pre-pandemic strength, and some traders are even reporting a new-found customer base – local people.

Saturday April 17 will see the long-awaited return of the world-famous Kensington market’s many antiques dealers.

Peter Dodwell Portobello Road Market Image supplied by Mr Dodwell

Food traders have been on the market throughout lockdown, while textiles and clothing stalls were welcomed back on Monday (April 12) with the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Peter Dodwell, 54, runs two stalls – The Olive Bar and the Oysteria – and chairs the iconic market’s management committee.

“The road has a nice atmosphere to it now, it feels like a market again, although we’re still at 50-60 per cent of full capacity,” he said.

“We’ve got no tourists so it’s not what it was, but lots of locals have started coming.

“Usually they would stay away because it would get incredibly busy with tourists. But now I’ve made so many new, local customers it’s almost made up for the trade I’ve lost from tourists.”

He continued: “It was great on Monday. One guy who sells textiles and who has local customers got absolutely mobbed.

“Others who used to sell souvenirs will have no chance. Others are coming back just to feel some sanity and to feel back to normal.

“But some traders are a bit old and are choosing to return after they have had a second vaccine.”

A veteran of Portobello Road, Marion Gettleson, 74, is “absolutely longing” for tomorrow’s return of the antiques dealers.

“There’s always some obscure wonderful thing I’ve never seen before,” said Ms Gettleson, who retired from running her own antiques shop in 2019. It was founded by her father in 1919.

A pianist performs at Portobello Road Market on April 16. Credit: Kensington and Chelsea Council

“The entire country’s history is laid out before you.

“Everyone’s looking forward to once again getting back to business that is endlessly fascinating.

“There will be a lot of catching up and chatting to do. It’s an extraordinary place of diamonds and cabbages – you can find both next to one another, and it’s great fun.”

Mr Dodwell said traders had been bunching up at the south end of Portobello Road, although he expects traders to space out again as the market gradually returns to its full strength.

Twenty pitches are out of action due to emergency gas works taking place, he said.



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