Blackwood shoppers asked to join the celebration

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TRADERS in Blackwood’s indoor market are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the building today.

A lick of paint and more units opening in recent years has brought a new atmosphere to the indoor shops and traders are calling for shoppers to come back into the market to see how it has changed.

No longer just a thoroughfare between the bus station and the post office, the market which opened on November 6, 1993, has seen a lot of comings and goings over the past two decades, explained proprietor Sue Jenkins, whose father owned the building before her.

With rates of £50 per week for a unit, some traders have been in place for up to 17 years, like hairdresser Andrea James who runs The Barber Shop with her daughter Laura.

“Everybody is pulling their weight to keep all the units looking nice,” she said. “You’ve got to be a little bit mad to work in here. Most of my customers have been coming since the day I opened, they’re all stuck with me.

“There is a good atmosphere in the market and we all have a laugh.

“People need to come back in and see the difference, it is a lot brighter and perkier in here now it’s all open plan.”

In the middle of the mall is a pop-up art gallery stocked with work by members of the Valleys T8 group, who also opened a pop-up gallery in summer when they sold £800 worth of artwork.

Nearby, 25-year-old Lewys Davies has been running a computer repair shop, The Right Click, for four years and said it has been a good place to start a business.

“There’s a better atmosphere now, people don’t mind coming in here,” said Mr Davies. “It used to be a pass-through but not now.

“The art gallery has happened and the cafe moving to the front.”

The long-established Amelia’s Cafe, at the back of the market, will move to the front window on Monday and over the years Paula Jones and her family have seen a lot of changes.

“People think of the mall almost as second rate, but I’m hoping now once the cafe has moved it will be a complete change,” she said.

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