What happened next to the popular butcher forced to leave Trago Mills car park
A popular mobile butcher who invested over GBP20,000 to save his business after he was forced to move from outside Merthyr’s Trago Mills in July 2021 has opened up about his last six months. Craig Wall had been trading from his mobile butcher truck, Mark and Craig’s Butchers, in the car park of Merthyr Tydfil’s Trago Mills since the department store opened more than three years ago. In that time the 42-year-old has travelled all the way from his home in Wolverhampton every Wednesday to Sunday because he loves serving in Wales.
He has built a good relationship with his customers who came far and wide to pick up meat from his big blue van.
Craig in his former truck before making the move to a Trago unit (Image: Richard Swingler)
: To stories from Merthyr Tydfil, click here But much to Craig’s disappointment he said Merthyr Tydfil council ordered him to cease trading in the car park in July 2021 as he was “taking away 0.02% of business away from the town centre”. At the time, retrospective planning applications for sales pitches in the car park were refused permission.
Craig said it left him no choice but to spend more than GBP20,000 to refurbish and carry on trading in a permanent unit at Trago Mills, adding the alternative would have been to cease trading in Merthyr Tydfil altogether as he did not see moving to the town centre as a feasible option. Though he still describes the decision made by the council as “bonkers”, Craig said moving into his new shop, Craig’s Meat Shack, had left him pleasantly surprised – for the most part.
Craig’s new shop (Image: Craig’s Meat Shack)
“I still to this day don’t understand how we apparently took away from the town centre 0.02% trade and we’ve literally moved about 30 feet away and we can still trade,” he said. “But on a positive note, it is better for us in many ways and it has actually done us a favour going in there.
It’s a lot warmer because we’re out of the elements and the out goings are also a lot less as well compared to when we used to pay rent on the car park. “We’ve kept 90% of the trade, but we’re still getting people coming in who had been driving in and then going away expecting to see us in the van. Even up until Christmas, we had people thinking we had gone.”
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It takes just seconds to subscribe – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions. Craig said although he is happy with his new set up, he did have a few issues. Not only did the move mean he had to employ an extra pair of hands, he said he’s been left a bit short on space.
The lack of room and storage means he has to keep his refrigerated stock away from the shop at the other side of Trago Mills. “We can only keep a limited amount of stuff in the shop. It is workable, but I have taken on another member of staff for doing the extra running around and getting the stock in the truck from around the other side [of Trago].
Christmas was hard work. “If anything I wish I could have had a bigger space, but other than that it’s pretty good and I’m glad we’ve managed to stick around and still serve the customers.”
The shop was empty when Craig first secured it in summer 2021 (Image: Craig’s Meat Shack)Inside the completed shop (Image: Craig’s Meat Shack)
He said a new market which now runs on the car park each month had also left him confused. Craig explained: “Once we were moved off the car park, they now have a market once a month where we used to be which the council have allowed and a lot of customers are going to that.
We get customers coming in our shop wondering how they’ve allowed that.” If you go to Trago Mills car park you might still notice Craig’s old truck parked up. He said he has plans to sell this on, but kept it in case Covid restrictions shut him down in his shop over Christmas.
Craig hopes to stay put at his new shop (Image: Craig’s Meat Shack)
He said: “The van we used is parked up simply because nobody knew what would happen with the [coronavirus] announcements up until Christmas.
If we were in the shop, going by Trago rules, we would have had to shut if Trago shut, so I kept it just in case we did have a lockdown so I’d still be able to serve or prepare Christmas orders out of the truck, but obviously we didn’t need it. I’m sure it’ll go for sale in the next few months.” He said his continued success over the last six months was all thanks to his loyal customers who have continued to show their support.
“We’re lucky that we’ve got a good customer base,” he said. “We’ve even had people who we hadn’t served before come down saying they want to support us because of the [WalesOnline] article. People are also coming from way further afield with Trago doing a lot of advertising. We’ve still got people coming from places like Liverpool and Manchester.”
He said the butchers would be staying put for the foreseeable future – unless a bigger unit becomes available.
Merthyr Tydfil council has been contacted for comment.
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