Corp Market is encouraging locals to shop sustainably and provides a safe space this Christmas

A month after its grand opening in October, Canton’s beloved market has become home to several sustainable independent businesses

Corp Market is home to sustainable independent businesses, located in Canton, with a bow wrapped around it for the festive season
Six years after its closing, The Corporation pub in Canton has been revived as Corp market. Credit: Abby Allen

Corp Market opened its doors on 19 November and is home to 10 independent vendors on Cowbridge Road. A month on, the market’s focus on sustainability is encouraging Cardiffians to buy locally and shop conscientiously. 

After lying dormant for six years when The Corporation pub shut down, Corp Market moved into the space and reinvigorated the popular premises. It now has a plethora of sellers catering to different needs including a winery, a bookshop selling books on under-represented voices, a barber and an eco-friendly refills shop, to name a few. 

Sustainability is the market’s ethos. According to a survey by Accenture, 1 in 3 respondents post-pandemic now rank sustainability as a top three purchasing criteria. Similarly, BBC reports that Covid-19 has increased ethical concern amongst consumers and shoppers. 

Completely independent and Welsh, the market has received enormous support from the locals. Operations manager Georgina Heffernan said, “The move in was hard, but the comments from the locals have made the blood, sweat and tears worth it.”

Georgina Heffernan stands by the bar/cafe in the middle of Corp Market; she is the operations manager of the place that houses sustainable independent businesses
Operations manager Georgina Heffernan stands behind the bar in the centre of Corp Market. Credit: Ashvin Tiwana
Support comes in waves

One of the market’s primary vendors is local clothing retailer and mental health organisation Heads Above The Waves. The shop focuses on raising awareness of depression and self-harm in young people and sells merchandise and self-designed clothing products. Hannah Morgan, 31, recalled how stressful the move from the store’s previous home at Castle Emporium was. 

It was nice to have the shared compassion, empathy and support from the other sellers

Hannah Morgan

“It was scary because we didn’t know how the move would affect us in terms of footfall,” she said, “but it was nice to have the shared compassion, empathy and support from the other sellers.” 

Hannah encourages everyone to visit, and is as happy having a chat as she is selling a T-shirt.

The market’s focus on providing a safe space for everyone inspired the quiet hours on Wednesdays. The mid-week event is integral to the market’s ethos, as it is for people who don’t feel comfortable with loud music and lights. Georgina does not want anyone to feel as though they cannot spend time in the space. 

“Working from home has a negative effect on a lot of people,” explained Georgina, “so a lot of people come in here with their laptops and they instantly feel better when they’re around people.”

The future is local

The pandemic forced everyone to re-evaluate their shopping practices, as Binky Rees of Little Green Stores notes. “One positive that has come out of that horrendous [lockdown] is that people are more locally focused, and they understand the want and the need to look after each other.

“They are supporting local shops now. It gave people time to research things and re-evaluate certain aspects of their daily lives,” she says.

Her shop is an ethical zero-waste refill store, and part of her role as the shopkeeper she feels is to help people understand how they can use the products.

The 40-year-old was a nomad working out of the back of her van prior to finding a space at Corp Market. Binky recalled how many shoppers often reminisce about what the building used to be. Stories about locals having their first pint or their grandmothers working the tables echo around the market and laughter fills the air. 

Corp Market relies on the local community for its business, and therefore provides a space at the back that anyone can use for free, Sean Kerr of Gem Palace jewellers explains. 

It’s an informal environment where everyone feels comfortable. During a pandemic, that’s essential

Sean Kerr

“It’s a relaxed place and people of all ages and ranges come in here,” he said, “it’s an informal environment where everyone feels comfortable. During a pandemic, that’s essential.” 

The self-taught jeweller emphasised the realisation that dawned on people during the lockdowns: that local businesses will disappear if they are not supported.

A stepping stone

Anyone can rent out a space at Corp Market. While it is a safe space for visitors, it is also a safe space for sellers. Georgina wants the market to be a “stepping stone for small businesses.” She wants to see them grow, which is why the market hosts pop-ups often. 

Hannah agreed with this supportive approach and spoke about the importance of buying locally. She said, “In this capitalist society, it is hard to find people who really care, but Corp Market has been amazing.”

The market will be closed for the first two weeks of January. After that, it will be open from 10am to 6pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, and from 10am to 11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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A colourful boxout containing information about upcoming events at Corp Market
Credit: Nikita Achanta