East Croydon Cool talks…Food Markets

East Croydon Cool talks…is a blog series that explores topics of cultural interest via local area experts. This month we spoke with the founders of South Norwood Market – a new Sunday market that will promote “local businesses & the best street food in town”.

Opening this Sunday 25th April, it has been set up by Brother and Sister (Will and Charlotte) and will be run with their respective partners (Lizzie and Darren). They are all local residents (Will and Lizzie live in South Norwood while Charlotte and Darren are down the road in South Croydon) and all have a healthy(ish!) obsession for food and artisanal goods.

Whilst it is too soon to predict the full effect of the pandemic on the food industry or food trends as a whole, the interest in food markets shows no signs of stagnating and it looks like their popularity is continuing to grow across London.

Lockdown has brought out a fierce loyalty in us all and seen more people actively support their local independents. Whilst many made the move to online weekly or even fortnightly supermarket shops, this has ironically given a boost to local, smaller retailers who benefit from custom in between these big orders. With food having become our main source of entertainment during lockdown, even the least “foodie” among us have embraced the kitchen and gained a new-found interest in food (and respect for cooks!) The lockdown has also created a new generation of food entrepreneurs with many creating side hustles from their new hobbies. Many food trucks (with their agile business models and premises) have thrived during lockdown, providing exciting treats to walkers happy to find something to break up their daily steps! In addition to all of this, interest in health and wellness is stronger than ever and with more people conscious of the environmental impact of food production, people are keener than ever before to shop sustainably.

So it seems like food markets are a safe bet for 2021 and we couldn’t wait to hear more about what the South Norwood one has to offer!

  1. Well, this is a pretty big new venture, how did you guys first get involved in the food industry?!

Eight years ago, we went to New York on a family holiday and developed an unhealthy obsession with Buffalo chicken wings.  We decided to make it our mission to bring the wings back to the food markets of London, setting up our own stall, The Roaming Buffalo. Over the following years, we roamed all over London from Hackney to Croydon and everywhere in between (including a residency at a pub in Covent Garden).  It was a wild ride, with Charlotte even going into labour whilst trading at one of our first markets!

2. What made you want to set up a food market?

Most of our Sundays would be spent meeting up at a market or trading at one so we thought why not run the market instead!  After years of doing markets all over London (some better than others) we soon realised what went into a good market for both the traders and the customers and hope to put that into practice on Sunday when we launch South Norwood Market. We love the fact that it can be a family business and gives us an excuse to spend even more time together.  Look out for the mini members of the team, our boys Oliver (aged 2) and Sonny (aged 1) and not forgetting our other baby – our french bulldog, Roxy. They’ll be in their own high vis vests – it couldn’t be more of a family run market!

3. Why South Norwood?
Will and Lizzie have lived in South Norwood for 5 years and have fallen in love with the area and the community.  The Clocktower Market are already doing a great job on the first Saturday of the month but we feel the area is crying out for a weekly Sunday market specialising in street food and a hub for the community to come and hang out.  We’re really encouraged by all the feedback we have received from the locals whilst promoting the market and their levels of excitement

4. When and where will the market run?

The market will be every Sunday 10am to 3pm at the Harris Academy Playground on South Norwood Hill, a short walk from Norwood Junction.

5. Who will be trading with you?

We’ve got a great line up of traders and are so happy they have decided to start this journey  with us right from the beginning!  We are launching with hot food, sweet foods, artisanal goods, flowers (and did we mention there will be a bar?!)  Traders will be on a rotation so there will be a variety from week to week (full list of traders below)

6. How did you decide the balance between traders… eg sweet vs savoury, food versus retail?

Our experience of past markets we’ve traded, we’ve noticed a mentality of packing in as many stalls as possible.  This is not what we are about and have carefully selected traders so there is no duplicate offering – this gives the customer a great variety but also ensures the traders have a better chance of having a good day! We really want it to be a collaborative market and will be seeking feedback from the community about what they want to see more of going forward. Due to Covid spacing restrictions currently in place we can’t yet accommodate retail stalls but this is definitely something we will be expanding into.

7. What are your favourite food markets in London?

We love the history, hustle and bustle of Brick Lane and the eclectic offering of food options. Will has probably been to pretty much every street food market there is and could name every trader, he will always spend a small fortune trying out pretty much every stall! South Bank Centre Market was a favourite of ours when trading ourselves and really taught us about the street food trader community and what a friendly/ passionate and hardworking breed of people they are! Especially considering we would almost always forget something – another trader was always on hand to help us out!

8. What do you think of the food scene in Croydon?

Darren and Charlotte live a short walk from the Restaurant Quarter in South Croydon which Charlotte was first introduced to when Darren took her on their first ‘Croydon date’ in his hometown 10 years ago! They went to Bagatti’s so that will always be special for them (plus the food is delicious!) We were all really excited about the arrival of Boxpark which coincided with us moving to the area and brought a whole new dynamic to the Croydon food scene. It combines such a great variety of food choices with the social element of food markets that we love. We are proud ‘Local Heros’ at The Store and love going there for brunch, roasts and cocktails! The detail of their menu is spot on and we love the relaxed atmosphere. The huge choice on Deliveroo absolutely saved us during Lockdown too!

9. How do you think the pandemic will affect the food market scene?

We think (and hope!) the whole hospitality scene will see a massive boom since people are just so excited to get back out there socialising and enjoying food they haven’t had to cook themselves!

10. What are your hopes for South Norwood Market for the rest of the year?

Firstly, we want to create a hub for the community of South Norwood to come every weekend, a place to celebrate the easing of lockdown together. We also want to see the  Traders get back on their feet and create a platform to showcase their amazing food…….and we also hope the sun is shining every Sunday!

The South Norwood Food Market opens on Sunday 25th April and will run every Sunday from 10am to 3pm. You can find out more by following them on Instagram @SouthNorwoodMarket.

Launch Traders include:
Mezzo @mezzo_isf

Dough Hands @doughhands
Sandwiche @Sandwichemarket

Stay Toasted @StayToasted_UK
Taco Collective @tacocollective
Comfort & Joy @comfortandjoycp
Brett and Bailey @brettandbailey
Crushed Bean @crushedbeancroydon
Breadwinners @wearebreadwinners
Crystal Palace Flowers @Crystal_Palace_Flowers
Made From Scratch @Made_From_Scratch_Lasagne
Perinelli Salami @perinellisalami
Little Mouse @LittleMouseCheese

Future Traders include:
Van Dough @VanDough
Queen of Crepes @Queen_Of_Crepes
Sweet Carolina @SweetCarolinaUK
The Tartelettes @Tartlettes_London

For recommendations of other Food Markets in Croydon, CLICK HERE.

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