EXCITEMENT is building with traders just days away from welcoming shoppers to their stores in the new £11 million Warrington Market.

The purpose-built facility is the latest addition to the borough council’s £142.5 million Time Square town centre regeneration scheme.

And the final touches are being made to the site ahead of the opening on Monday.

It will feature a mezzanine floor, escalators, a spacious food court and an outdoor terrace.

As well as welcoming back traders who had shops in the temporary building, there will also be some new faces.

Existing trader Christina Houghton owns Window Dreams, which provides home furnishings such as curtains and blinds.

She is raring to open up her store in the Covid-19 secure building.

“I can’t wait, I am so excited,” she said.

Warrington Guardian:

Christina Houghton

“For me it is a really, really big deal because I started in the market at 14 years old as a Saturday girl and now I am 51.

“As a Saturday girl in the market, the idea of having my shop window on Bridge Street is a really big deal for me.

“Everybody is all geared up. We have all got the hand sanitiser and we all know the rules.

“Obviously, we want to keep everybody safe and we want to keep ourselves safe.”

Ms Houghton believes there will be many challenges ahead and says traders will need to dig deep amid the pandemic.

“The Warrington people have always been fond of the market and I know the Warrington people are keen to keep the market going,” she added.

“It has affected a lot of people in different ways, some people will have lost their jobs and money might be tight.

“I am confident that my customers will come back.”

Moran’s of Warrington, a shoe repair and key cutting business, and Renovation Station, a trainer restoration company, will also be moving into the market.

Owner Ste White said: “It’s not ideal obviously with everything going on but it is what it is.

Warrington Guardian:

Ste White

“I think there is going to be reduced footfall, there is no doubt about that.”

But Mr White expressed particular concerns over the shoe repair side of the business.

He said: “That is so dependent on regular footfall.”

Scott Mathieson is bringing his new comic shop Scott’s Pops & Comics to the market.

He expects the coming months to be a ‘learning curve’.

But he hopes his passion for what the business is about will help turn it into a success.

“I have been reading comics since probably about age three or four, so a good near enough 30 years of reading comics and growing up just before all of the Marvel films came out,” he said.

Warrington Guardian:

Scott Mathieson

“I’ve been to comic-cons throughout Europe and America.

“Once someone has had a good experience they will pass that onto other people and, especially with it being a brand new building, people are going to scope it out to see what it is like.”

Meanwhile, businessman Paul Taylor, vice chair of Cheshire Business Leaders and director of Warrington Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says he would like to see a ‘scores on the doors’ type of system set up in the town, where an official body made sure that a range of factors have been adhered to.

He also welcomed the number of people who have been venturing out to the shops.

“A lot of the credit for this customer turnout is down to shop owners and landlords making it clear to potential customers that a lot of effort has gone into making shops and venues safe for customers to return to,” he said.

Mr Taylor also says he believes there will be a second coronavirus wave regardless of whether rules are followed or not.

“The only way to avoid that would have been to remain indoors until we starved the virus out but that’s impossible on a global scale, with a virus that transmits as easily and silently as this one,” he said.

“The struggle for some companies from now on will be having another lockdown hit them, probably introduced on a local levels from now on unless things get really bad, while they’re just trying to get back on their feet, especially if the Government help for them isn’t available like it was from the start of this.”