Chiswick Flower market attracts 60,000 visitors

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market,May 2021; photograph Anna Kunst

Chiswick Flower Market had 60,000 visitors in 2021, it reported in its annual review, published today.

The market was launched in September 2020 as a Community Interest Company run by volunteers to revitalise the economy of the High Rd. Despite the pandemic, the team were able to run eight markets in 2021 and it is now well on the way to achieving its aim. Data from TfL’s cameras show footfall on a flower market Sundays in Chiswick High Road are 70% higher than a non-market Sunday.

“Our surveys also show that 54% of our visitors were from outside the immediate W4 area and 22% of all visitors had travelled more than 5 km to visit us.” said Karen Liebreich, one of the directors.

The Chiswick Flower Market has also made a profit. Total revenue was £20,000 in the year, with operating costs of £8,000. The surplus of £12,000 is being invested back in the local area including £3,500 which the team used to replant the flower beds of Chiswick High Road.

Finance director Kath Mitra said:

“As the market gets into a financially stable footing, we will be able to invest more into the market and the local area based on need assessments – we invested in improving the planting around the High Road and have funding available for other ideas. We would welcome any suggestions on this.”

Image above: Vicky of London Houseplants, one of the Columbia Rd readers who have joined the market, at the July market; photograph Frank Noon

Encouraging new local businesses

The market organisers have also been keen to encourage new and especially local businesses. Of the 60 different traders at the markets, 65% were locally based, 75% of which were new businesses.

Director Ollie Saunders, who chooses the traders for Chiswick Flower Market, said:

“We always wanted to have a rich mix of different traders ranging from local start-up businesses to established and well-known traders including RHS Gold Winners Jacques Amand and Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, plus traders from other markets including Columbia Road.”

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market bags on sale; photograph Anna Kunst

Developing a sustainable market

One of the aims the market has found most difficult to achieve is making the market plastic-free. Most traders across the horticultural industry use plastic pots and black plastic in particular does not lend itself to recycling.

“We want to play our part in reducing the horticultural industry’s use of virgin plastic” said Kath Mitra, “so we will be launching a plastic pot recycling scheme at our market on Sunday 6 February.

“Customers will have a place to drop off used plant pots which will be used again – either by other visitors who can collect them or by our traders who will use them for plants they will be selling in our market later in the year.”

The market told traders last year they would no longer be able to give out plastic bags. Instead market goers are encouraged to bring their own bags or to buy one of the large Jute bags which bear the market’s logo and are robust enough to carry quite big plants.

From the beginning the market has operated a cargo bike delivery service operated by volunteers, to encourage people not to bring their cars. There is also a plant ‘creche’ when buyers can drop their purchases while they get lunch or go shopping.

The market is trying to the carbon footprint of the plants on sale. As most cut flowers and houseplants come from Holland and Denmark, it is hard to run a flower market without importing.

“Around 75% of what is sold is grown or produced in the UK and we have worked with our traders to reduce the use of peat” said Ollie.

“We want to increase the number of British grown flowers and are working with growers to find ways to bring the highest quality of seasonal, sustainable, locally grown flowers to our market.

Image above: Chivaree ice king and queen, stilt-walkers at the December market; photograph Anna Kunst

Queen’s Jubilee Market

As social distancing rules were reduced in 2021, the market was able to experiment with street entertainment, with 17 acts including stilt-walkers, fire-eaters, jazz musicians, tap dances, school choirs and the local rock choir.

Plans for this year include a special Queen’s Jubilee Market on the June bank holiday weekend.

The next Chiswick Flower Market will be on Sunday 6 February. Others are planned for the first Sunday of every month throughout the year.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Top ten things to do in Chiswick

See also: Reactions to the ‘Big Ideas’ proposed to develop Chiswick town centre

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.