The Mercat Central de Reus maintains extended hours despite little follow-up among stallholders
The Mercat Central de Reus maintains the time extension started a year ago: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 08:00 to 15:30; and Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Less than 20% of the stops maintain it, but this was decided a few days ago after a meeting with the City Council in which the operation during these first 12 months had to be assessed.
“We explained the situation and our point of view. They decided to go ahead with this same schedule, ”explains the president of the paradistas, Ildefons Vidal. He recalls that only six businesses, out of a total of quarantine, maintain the schedule started in October 2021. "If we are not all of them, I don't know if it makes much sense to stay open," says Vidal. The paradistas were betting on making a rethinking, but for now the same schedule will be maintained, as confirmed by municipal sources consulted, to which nothing else is wanted to be added.
For now, those who do not comply with the marked opening hours have not been sanctioned, nor would it be considering doing so. In fact, more and more are closing "and even the businesses that were most committed to change are no longer opening," some paradists emphasize. So the attempt to extend the hours is seen as "a new failed attempt" because "you don't even know how to copy what they have done in other cities," complains Pere Margalef, from the Cal Pere fruit and vegetable stand. From his point of view, what is necessary is to make a good promotion, something that he believes has not been done. «I bet on opening one more afternoon, and Thursday is a very good option, but if it is done, it has to be done well, explained, reach everyone, spread the word, and this has not been done as it should be done» , he thinks
He knows what he is talking about, and it is that he was at the forefront of paradistas for years and he remembers that there have already been other attempts. On one occasion it was not implemented because "a vote was taken among all the paradistas, but although a little more than half were in favor, we considered that it was not a sufficient majority," he recalls.
For Margalef, "we are not listened to" and considers that it would be necessary to speak with each one of them to know exactly what they think and what possibilities they have. In this sense, in many of the businesses that have never ended up implementing the new schedule, only one person works. This makes it impossible to open the 12 hours in a row that Thursdays and Fridays entail, with uninterrupted hours from eight in the morning to eight in the afternoon. In addition, it should be remembered that the timetable adopted is not the one that the paradistas had agreed on, that they did agree to open on Thursday afternoon and extend the rest of the midday, but until two and not 3:30 p.m., which is what which ended up being imposed.
After a year of experience, the weakest day is Thursday afternoon, according to paradistas. Walking around the interior of the market, practically all the stalls have their shutters down, with very little activity. Especially lonely is the equipment at noon. And it is that some of those that still open in the afternoon do not work uninterrupted, but rather take a break to go eat. Despite being active, they admit that the volume of work is very low.
Little customer and lowered blinds
What is difficult is to determine what is the exact reason for the lack of success: do few customers go and that is why they close the stalls? Or are there few customers because the stalls are closed? "People feel cheated," says the president of the paradistas, Ildefons Vidal, in the sense that "they are told that there is a schedule and what they find is that practically everything is closed."
He points out that the council values that, despite the low follow-up, there is a sufficient variety of products among those that comply with the schedule. "But they don't take into account that the market customer wants to go to his usual stop, with which he has more confidence," says Vidal. Other paradistas also indicate that the client of the market already has his own schedule.
In any case, paradists see it as a fish that bites its own tail. What they agree on is that the new schedule worked correctly during the first months, between October and February, approximately, coinciding with the Christmas campaign. From then on, the trickle of closed shutters on Thursday afternoon was constant "and in summer it was already the final auction," they remember. Apparently, some of the businesses that had been going on until then, when they returned from vacation, were definitely disengaged. Fridays, on the other hand, are different, but because with the previous schedule it was already open in the afternoon that day.
Pere Margalef reflects on various questions. On the one hand, he values the hourly conciliation offered by the market. “They say that you have to open more hours because it is the trend. They wonder why there are people who don't go to the market, but one has to ask: the people who come, why do they do it », he exclaims. At this point, he highlights the value of the market: that of the products offered in this space and also that of the professionals. "Here we are all professionals and we look for the best products and the best service," he emphasizes. That is why he underlines the importance of maintaining these differentiating qualities and transmitting them to citizens. At the end of the day, make the market value for what it is. "Do not stores close on the street that do this schedule that you want us to do here?" He asks.
Dining areas and renovation
Complementing the time extension, two table areas also came into operation last fall that allow customers to stay and eat in the same market. At the same time, products that can be consumed instantly were promoted. One more way to bet on midday.
All this, at the same time as a major facelift was carried out: the appearance has been modernized, with the renovation of many stalls, the expansion of some businesses and also the opening of new ones, which provide a new assortment of products that Until now there was none on the market. This is the case of poké bowls or also a vegan food stall.
As for online sales, which were especially successful during the pandemic, they stopped being offered at the end of June after the disappearance of Ulabox, the company that offered the service.