Following positive news that new businesses are opening at Watford Market the Observer took a stroll around to see how the hawkers were getting on.

From vegetables and fresh fruit to fine watches and clothing, it is hoped the growing offering will inject new life into an area that has suffered during the pandemic.

Opening next door to Jumping Jack in the next few days is Vegan Future – a new business started by 74-year-old Mirchandani Hotchand.

Mirchandani, who lives in Watford, was bullish about opening along the stretch after deciding he wanted a new venture during his retirement.

Watford Observer: Owner Mirchandani Hotchand and his new venture Vegan FutureOwner Mirchandani Hotchand and his new venture Vegan Future

“Vegan food is straight forward, no bull**t, healthy,” he said.

“I’ll make the vegan food really tasty, use a lot of organic ingredients, and I know it will do well here.”

A cook in Caribbean food stall Roti Pan Kitchen also said that business has been very good since coming back in April and claimed he feels positive about the future.

To tackle the pandemic’s impact the borough council has ploughed £250,000 into the market – though that is still less than the originally budgeted £750,000.

Watford Observer: Amanda Lewis outside The Sewing BoxAmanda Lewis outside The Sewing Box

Despite the positive moves, coupled with soaring interest in empty town centre units, some of the market businesses said they were still nervous about the future.

Among them is Amanda Lewis of haberdashery stall The Fabric Box.

The 58-year-old said: “It has been slow since last lockdown and I know people are still scared to come out.

“Even with May 17 round the corner, we will still be in a pandemic.”

Those feelings were echoed by Jumping Jack owner Jack Soonjoo, 43, who serves Indian and Mauritian food.

Watford Observer: Love Falafel food stallLove Falafel food stall

He said he felt uncertain about the future after noticing people cooking at home more – a habit he fears might stick after getting used to it in lockdown.

Youssef Sheheb, whose Love Falafel stall serves Middle Eastern food, said he wishes stalls could remain open past the 4pm cut off.

The 54-year-old continued: “As it stays light longer now it would be better to stay open longer because as it stands now we are only getting business around lunch time and that’s it.”

Watford mayor Peter Taylor hailed the “brilliant” businesses and claimed the newcomers will “further enhance our vibrant town”.

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“As well as the improvements being made to the market, it is exciting to see these new traders adding to the market’s offering and I would encourage everyone to pop down.”