Trader Spotlight – Julie Bennett

October 13, 2014

Location: B103 and B113

One of the best things about Leicester Market is the sheer variety available through our plethora of traders, some of whom offer produce unavailable anywhere else in the city centre.

Julie Bennett is undoubtedly one of those traders; with her huge range of Asian fruit and vegetables the most specialised in Leicester. In fact, such was Julie’s range of produce, that celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver selected to feature her stall when he filmed at Leicester Market a couple of years ago.

From chillies to karalla, Julie has it all – and we chatted to her to find out more…

 

How long have you been trading at Leicester Market and what has kept you here?
I started trading here 24 years ago – I love my job! I have lived in Leicester all my life and my parents used to sell fruit and vegetables here when I was younger, so it’s just continued from there. Working on the stall is a very family-based way of life; a family business forever, which makes it special.

Leicester Market in itself has changed over the years though; there is a lot less traders due to the growth in supermarkets and changes in society.

You specialise in Indian vegetables; how has the stall changed over the years with relation to the multicultural community in Leicester?
Over the years, eating habits have changed dramatically. I can sell things now that I never would have been able to years ago. There is more diversity and people’s eating habits have made the biggest difference. When I first started doing this, nobody had heard of or was interested in things like Thai food or lemongrass, which has definitely grown in the last five years. People are living differently, eating differently and cooking differently. I would like to think my stall very much assists the multicultural society that we now live in.

Things have also changed in how the vegetables are bought and distributed. The vegetables are flown into Heathrow every day and then driven up to Leicester fresh, which is very important to me – that everything is as fresh as it can possibly be.

Do you have a ‘most popular’ product?
I can’t say I do, they are all popular which is good! I suppose I would have to say chillies, they are very popular. My favourite though is the aubergines, I love them but I’m biased!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people! I have a lot of regular customers that I enjoy seeing and building relationships with on a daily basis. I have got a lot of friends and the banter between traders here is brilliant which makes coming to work every day nice.

What do you think keeps people coming back to you?
Over the years I have tried to build up an honest trade, people know this – word travels fast! I have regular customers and I consistently tell them I’m not going to rob them for a penny! I always have fresh produce, which is important. This can be hard sometimes, because the shelf-life of what I sell isn’t very good. Even if I run out of something though, I would rather wait and have it fresh again the next day, whereas the shops tend not to be like that.

Have you got a message to shoppers coming to visit Leicester Market and your stall?
I would say come and try some exotic vegetables, come and ask as many questions as you like! I have tried them all myself and would be happy to help anyone with advice.

Julie Bennett trades at Leicester Market Wednesday through to Saturday.

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