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a blog by Chris Barrow


I recall my amazement at the remains of covered market stalls close to the Forum in Ancient Rome – and again in the Greek city of Corinth. This morning I happened to walk through Altrincham and past the market hall, which stands on the site of a market that was granted a Royal Charter in 1290.

The Royal Charter, allowing the Lord of Altrincham, Hamo de Masci, to hold a market and fair was sealed by Edward I in 1290 and was followed by Hamo’s own (undated) charter which created Altrincham a market borough. Hamo’s object was to improve his finances through more opportunities for local taxes. Money had become difficult due to wars and dowries.

Clearly, the latest construction is Victorian – but men and women have been selling their wares here for a very long time. This morning as I walked by the flower sellers were unpacking their produce, no doubt imported overnight into the nearby airport. Over the last three days I have presented my marketing workshop in Manchester, Belfast and Watford – and each day I have been asked by dental principals whether or not “all this marketing” doesn’t seem a little “pushy” or “desperate”? I’m sure that back in 1290, the local dentist didn’t stand on a market stall – and simply waited for those with toothache to beat a path to his door. But times have changed – I saw three dental practices within 100 metres of the market hall this morning:

  1. a small shabby sign at the foot of a steep flight of stairs, the sign read “Dental Surgery” – nothing else;

  2. a terraced house, with a sign on the door that read “Greenwood Dental Practice” – nothing else;

  3. a brightly lit shop window, revealing a modern, clean interior and posters of people with beautiful smiles – Regent Street Dental Centre

You have to set your stall out – that’s how it’s always been.

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