More than a dozen traders from Mercado do Bolhão, in Porto, want to have more participation in the management of the equipment, reopened seven months ago, and are planning to reactivate the old association to establish dialogue with the municipality.
The wish of the merchants was expressed at a meeting, self-titled “A voz do Bolhão”, which took place on Thursday night, at the Associação dos Inquilinos e Condóminos do Norte de Portugal, in Porto, and in which they marked presence of more than a dozen merchants, historic and new tenants, with shops outside, stalls and restaurants inside the historic market.
The meeting resulted in consensus among all traders that the “next steps” aim to reactivation of the Bolha de Água Traditional Trade Associationcreated in 2008, to establish “dialogue bridges” with the autarchy and to propose “a market management model in which traders participate”.
Alongside the reactivation of the association, traders also intend to survey the constraints in the refurbished space and draw up a report with this data.
At the meeting, which was attended by two members of the management of Mercado do Bolhão, Tânia Coelho and Francisco Castro, criticism was made of the management of the historic market, which reopened its doors in September 2022, after more than four years of restoration work ” demanding”.
“Bolhão’s voice is fading“, said Helena Ferreira, tenant of store 43 outside the market and owner of Oliva & Co, criticizing the management of the equipment and the strategy carried out by the municipal company GO Porto.
The owner, who signed the lease in February 2022, but who, due to the “deficient conditions in which the store was delivered”, has not yet opened, considered that “there are no bridges of dialogue”.
in this meeting Some problems have also been reported.such as “the sun hitting the fish or meat”, the existence of “a stream of water in the middle of the stalls” when it rains and traders “with fines of four thousand euros for not meeting certain requirements of the regulation, such as closing of curtains”.
Ermelinda Lopes, owner of the fishmonger which she takes her name from and a descendant of one of the oldest fishmongers in Bolhão, was assigned stall 179, located under the market stairs. And, it is precisely the location that is causing it to “lose business”.
“Nothing is sold in the frozen ones. The side stalls are terrible. Everything is carried in the body. Only those in the middle sell. We are the ones inside the newsstands, we are the ones who know. We are forgotten in the mines “, he said. And he added:” people talk, but then they are afraid “.
The holding of small gastronomic fairs or the promotion of some products on the market was also the target of criticism by merchants.
“We were never integrated into this Bolhão management project“, defended Fernando Pinto, owner of Bolhão-a-gosto for more than 30 years and who has been waiting for five years to reopen the space.
“I hope to open next month”, he said, defending, however, that the meeting was not intended to “resolve individual problems”, but to give “voice” to traders.
“We’ve been through a lot of struggles and we’ve achieved what we’ve achieved,” he said.
Sérgio Modesto, owner of Photomaton, a store located outside the market, defended that the “principle of everything is dialogue with the camera”.
“We are here to end hostility, let’s talkthat’s the most important thing”, said Sérgio, adding that it was necessary “to create harmony in the Bolhão brand”.
Also present at the meeting, the architect and former councilor of the Porto municipality Correia Fernandes highlighted that “there is no building that survives without a soul“, and compared Bolhão to the Serralves Foundation and Casa da Música to conclude “that the company that builds cannot manage the equipment”.
Correia Fernandes also urged traders to unite to reach a dialogue with the municipality.
With 79 stalls, 38 stores and 10 restaurants, Bolhão accommodates frescoes on the ground floor and restaurants on the top floor.
According to the municipality, at the moment, 76 of the 79 newsstands, 16 of the 38 stores and two of the 10 restaurants are in operation, with the opening of another two in May.