Amid the hustle and bustle of Brighton’s busy city centre it can be easy to miss the small market square tucked away next to London Road.
But shoppers and tourists who step away from the high street can find the Open Market, a space where independent traders have been thriving for years.
A morning at the market can include browsing some of the fantastic food and drink offerings and the ever-changing stalls.
However, if you scratch a little under the surface, you can also discover a wealth of personality among the traders.
'We are all here trying to support each other, and we are stronger for it'
What strikes you when you when you first enter Brighton’s Open Market is its unique character.
The city is no stranger to supporting independent businesses, as The Lanes and North Laine show so clearly. What is unique about the Open Market, though, is the community the space has fostered.
“This market still has the spirit of Brighton,” said Sarah Cotton, owner of vegan café Smorl’s.
“A lot of cities have been engulfed by big brands and it's all the same but what is in this market is the unique Brighton mix.
“We are an alternative to the high street. We are all here trying to support each other and we are stronger for it.”
Speaking to Sarah, you really get a sense of what community means to the businesses that call the market home. Much of Smorl's produce comes from the grocers not a ten-second walk on the other side of the square.
All the businesses bring their own unique spirit to the space. Whether you are looking for raw produce such as eggs and bacon, artisan treats like bread and honey or clothes and CDs, the Open Market caters for all.
It seems that the market has never strayed too far from its roots. It dates back as far as the 1880s but faced a slow decline in the late 20th century.
However, a revival in the early 2010s brought the city what stands there today – dozens of traders, a covered street market area and spaces to promote local produce and producers.
The market is owned by a community interest company and the traders are at the heart of the running of it. They take pride in their produce and in the space they sell it.
Kris Gorynski, who owns the Honey shop, said: “When I first opened the shop nine years ago people said that they were surprised there were so many types of honey.
“It’s my business and I’m a beekeeper myself. If I’m going to import other people’s honey it needs to be as good as mine.
“We rely on repeat customers. People know that there isn’t enough good honey on the high street.”
'We came together as a team and supported each other'
Like many businesses, the market struggled when Covid brought the world to a standstill..
However it survied and was recently named one of the best seaside shopping spots in the entire country.
Caroline Noble, who owns Vintage and Vintage, said she was “very proud” of how the market had united during tough times.
Caroline, who is also a director of the market, said: “We came together as a team and supported each other. We really try to support new people and new businesses here.”
'There’s a real community here'
As much as the space belongs to the traders, it is also clear how much it means to its customers too.
We caught Mike Holdgate as he headed into The Little Loaf, an artisan bread shop run by Avi Attia. He said he goes for “the best vegan oatie I’ve ever had”.
He said: “I like the Open Market, there’s all sorts of different things here. There’s a real community and it’s a great place to just wander around.
“It’s not just about the food and drink that it offers. It feels like it’s a community and you never know what is going to be here.”
Avi said: “First of all you get a real mix of quality produce in one location.
“We have a lot of return customers and it’s a great place for traders to come together.”
Brighton’s Open Market opens from Monday to Friday from 7am to 7pm, 7am to 5pm on Saturdays and 10am until 5pm on Sundays.