GIVEN the city’s slogan it’s no wonder that an institution close to Glasgow’s heart would build its reputation on the personality of its people.

If people make Glasgow then they also make The Forge Market, which celebrates a milestone 25 years in the city this weekend.

Again and again, on a visit to the Parkhead institution, customers reference the banter and the bonds they have with stall holders.

Friends Catherine Stewart and Marie Allen have been shopping at the indoor markets for more years than they can remember - but they are both loyal shoppers.

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Marie, from Uddingston, said: “We started off shopping at the Barras and worked our way along here to the Forge.

“We’ve been coming here for years and years now. There’s such a great variety of shops and you know you can rely on the goods you’re buying and the stallholders.”

Catherine added: “I like

the variety and the atmosphere. People are friendly – and

the prices are good.”

For general manager Andy Donaldson, the loyalty to The Forge Markets has been a real eye-opener.

While he knew the markets – the largest covered markets in Scotland – were popular, he didn’t realise the affection people had for them.

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Andy said: “If you stay in Glasgow when you say the Forge Market people know it – but I hadn’t realised just how much it was respected and known and is needed in Glasgow.

“We’ve been up against it because of the surge of online shopping and the way shopping habits are changing but what we’ve been able to do is give a proper retail offering in the form of a market, which is unique.

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“It allows small businesses to flourish, it allows someone who thinks they have the best idea in the world to come and have a go and that creates a unique environment.

“But if you go into a retail park it’s long leases and it’s the same businesses everywhere.

“We’ve got some great businesses out there that would be welcome on any high street or any shopping centre.

“We’ve also got natural community spirit, some of these businesses have been passed down from their grandparents to parents to them.

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“For customers it might be that their gran brought them in – so we’ve got that real heritage and community.

“There’s nowhere else like it with the quirkiness and edginess.”

Andy only joined The Forge Markets 10 months ago... just time to bed in before the coronavirus crisis hit.

It was far from an easy time for stallholders or the market, especially as a government loophole meant traders were not entitled to £10,000 grants the way other small businesses were.

But the manager says the markets pulled together to weather the storm and are delighted to be back up and running.

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He added: “What was nice for us all to see was throughout lockdown there was a real desire and excitement for us to be open again.

“The biggest thing in terms of overcoming that situation was for us as an organisation trying to take as much of the hit as we could to ensure that the traders, and in turn, our market could bounce back.

“It’s been unprecedented. That word’s used all the time but it’s not a cliche, it is absolutely unprecedented.

“I’m proud, the traders are proud, of the fact we are back.”

Safety measures are evident throughout the markets – from the hand sanitiser and one way system to the fact stalls have been moved to create additional space for distancing.

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The atmosphere is still there though, and the famous banter.

This weekend sees a range of initiatives to mark the 25th anniversary, ensuring the special occasion is celebrated but, as Andy says, “balancing the fanfare with safety”.

Shoppers will have 25% off at the market, there will be a £250 shopping voucher giveaway with other prizes, the East Kilbride Pipe Band will play tomorrow between noon and 1pm and today Glasgow Lord Provost Philip Braat will unveil a plaque.

Assistant manager Andy is also marking 25 years at the markets having been part of the team that helped build the structure before staying on.

It’s also the 25th anniversary for seven businesses who opened with the market.

Karen Cook, her husband and daughter have run their textiles businesses from the market for the past 25 years.

She said: “The people keep me here.

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“During lockdown what I missed most was my customers. They expect honesty and good service from me and I hope that what I give them.

“I really believe in a personal service and you can’t get that with online shopping.”

The 25th celebrations are not yet over – but Andy is already looking to the future.

He added: “Looking forward to the next 25 years, well, I hope we’re sitting here again.

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“The progress we were making with the way the market operates, broadening our digital offering and changing perceptions of what a market is has been fantastic and we want to pick up where we left off and make the next 25 years even better.”