Get Setts for shoe sales!

Reader Deborah Woodhouse has shared some wonderfully vivid memories of the unique Sheffield shoe shopping experience that was the Setts market.

By Julia Armstrong, julia.armstrong1
Friday, 24 May, 2019, 09:19
The Friday Setts Market shoe sale, seen on September 10, 1993

Deborah used to visit the Friday Setts shoe market in the early 1980s on the open-air stalls that were next door to the Sheaf Market in Exchange Street.

She writes: “Back in the day I still remember the excitement of a visit to Setts market on a Friday morning in the hope of bagging some bargain, fabulous, gorgeous shoes.

Shoppers browse among the stalls in the Sheffield Setts Market one Monday afternoon, on September 13, 1982

I’d get up at the crack of dawn and my dad would drive me there in his old, battered Vauxhall Viva car.

We had to be there early, just before 6.30am, in order to scoop the best bargains and before the shoes were loaded on to the tables.

And, of course, assume our position for the battle ahead.

Then it was every man, woman and child for themselves!

Sheffield Setts Market in 1974 - clearly not pushchair-friendly

Grabbing shoes, pushing to the front of the crowd, and trying to find the second shoe to make a pair!

And at times looking across the table and seeing another girl holding the shoe that matched the one I had in my hand.

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And then the standoff!! Who was the most stubborn or had the most time to wait it out for the other to give up and toss the single back into the mass of shoes?

Some I won, some I lost.

Another picture of the Setts flea market in September 1982

Us Sheffield women were a hardy, determined bunch and I don’t think I was the only one who enjoyed the process as well as the shoes.

I remember getting a beautiful pair of high heeled cream sandals for £1.99 for my first wedding in the early 80s.

The shoes lasted longer than the marriage, as I recall, but my feet looked beautiful on my wedding day.

The experience of finding the shoes, buying them and then carrying them home in a brown paper bag was part of the triumph and fun of it all.

Demolition of the Setts Market in 2002

And shopping for shoes in Meadowhall just doesn’t compare.

Those were the days...”