A popular mobile butcher who had invested more than £20,000 to save his business when he was forced to relocate from outside Trago Mills in Merther, in July 2021, spent about his last six months has opened.
Craig Wall had been trading his mobile butcher truck, Mark and Craig’s Butchers in the car park of Trago Mills in Merther Tydfil, more than three years since the department store was open.
In that time, the 42-year-old has traveled from his home in Wolverhampton every Wednesday to Sunday because of what he loves to serve in Wales. He has built good relations with his customers who used to travel far and wide to get meat from his big blue van.
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But to Craig’s dismay he said Merthyr Tydfil Council ordered him to cease trading in the car park in July 2021 because he was “taking 0.02% of business away from the town centre”. At the time, retrospective planning applications for sales pitches in car parks were denied permission.
Craig said he was left with no option but to spend more than £20,000 to renovate and trade in a permanent unit at Trago Mills, adding the option would be to shut down the business entirely at Merther Tydfil because He had not seen him going to the city. Center as a viable alternative.
Although he still describes the decision made by the council as “bonkers,” Craig said moving into his new shop, Craig’s Meat Shack, was a pleasant surprise—for the most part.
“I still don’t understand how we took away 0.02% of the business from the town center and we’ve literally moved about 30 feet away and we can still trade,” he said.
“But on a positive note, it’s better for us in a lot of ways and it’s really done us a favor in getting there. It’s so hot because we’re out of the elements and there’s very little outgoing as well as that amount of time.” Compared to when we used to pay car park rent.
“We kept 90% of the business, but we still had people coming in who were driving and then expecting to see us in the van. Even by Christmas, we thought we were gone.”
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Craig said that although he is happy with his new set up, he had some issues. Not only did the move mean he had to carry an extra pair of hands, he said, leaving him a little short in place. The lack of room and storage meant he had to store his refrigerated stock away from the shop on the other side of Trago Mills.
“We can only keep a limited amount of stuff in the shop. It’s doable, but I’ve hired another staff member to do the extra haul and get the stock into the truck from the other side. [of Trago], Christmas was hard work.
“If anything I would have had a bigger location, but other than that it’s great and I’m glad we’ve managed to serve the customers.”
He said a new market that now runs every month at the car park has also confused him.
Craig explained: “Once we were taken out of the car park, they now have a market once a month where we used to be, which the council allowed and a lot of customers are visiting that. We make customers come into our shop wondering how they have allowed it.”
If you go to the Trago Mills car park, you can still see Craig’s old truck parked. He said he planned to sell it, but closed it on Christmas due to the restrictions of Kovid in his shop.
He said: “The van we used is parked just because no one knew what would happen to it. [coronavirus] Announcements until Christmas. If we were in the shop, we’d have to close when Trago closed, as per Trago’s rules, so I only put it on when we had a lockdown, so I’m still able to place or prepare Christmas orders. truck, but apparently we didn’t need it. I am sure it will be available for sale in the next few months.”
He added that his continued success over the past six months is thanks to his loyal customers who have continued to show their support.
“We are fortunate to have a good customer base,” he said. “We also have people we didn’t serve want to support us before they come down saying because [WalesOnline] Article. People are also coming from far away because Trago is doing a lot of advertisements. We still have people coming from places like Liverpool and Manchester.”
He said that till a larger unit becomes available, the butchers will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Merther Tydfil Council has been contacted for comment.
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