Step right up ... to pick your own vegetables

CHANGE IN APPROACH: Darren Cox in front of his self-service stall.
CHANGE IN APPROACH: Darren Cox in front of his self-service stall.

A Sudbury market trader has reinvented his stall in a move he hopes is more in tune with modern day demands.

Darren Cox, who has run Cox’s fruit and veg for more than 20 years, has made the pitch a self-service stall.

Darren Cox's self-service market stall in Sudbury

Darren Cox's self-service market stall in Sudbury

Now, instead of asking for a certain weight or number of particular grocery, shoppers can browse the fruit and vegetables on offer and select their own, picking the biggest or freshest.

“A lot of people are supermarket shoppers now,” said Mr Cox. “They like to pick their own produce – supermarkets have changed the way we shop.”

In an attempt to pull back trade from the big stores, Mr Cox decided it was time to “freshen things up” and create a bit of interest in his own stall.

“Even if I only increase custom by two or three per cent, it will have been worth it,” he said.

Having introduced the innovation two weeks ago, Mr Cox said it was still too early to predict how successful the change will prove.

“We have had really good weather these last few weeks, so you can’t really tell how well it is doing,” he said. “I need at least three months before I will know.”

Mr Cox said he had seen other traders introduce similar ideas – producing an upturn in visitor numbers – and thought it was worth a try.

Speaking to customers on a busy market day, the response was largely positive.

Ted and Jane Bentley, from Sible Hedingham, said it was the first time they had seen a stall like it and were in favour of the approach.

“It’s much better to be able to choose your own vegetables,” said Mr Bentley.

Overall, most people preferred to be able to check the quality of what they were buying, and enjoyed being able to pick their own produce, which Mr Cox is proud to show off.

“It’s all about quality,” he said. “People are more quality-conscious nowadays.

“Shoppers don’t want cheap produce, they want value for money.

“I’m confident in what I’m selling so I’m happy for it to be out there and for people to pick their own.”