Two new shops are opening in Stevenage town centre this weekend, with Portside Soap Company and Sweet & Cake Magic both welcoming customers for the first time since their moves from the indoor market.

Ahead of opening, we've taken a sneak peek inside their new units, at 24 and 26 Market Place.

Ryan has been running Portside Soap Company since 2017, and is looking forward to opening the shop.

The Comet: Vickie (left) runs Sweet Magic, while Ryan runs Portside Soap Company.Vickie (left) runs Sweet Magic, while Ryan runs Portside Soap Company. (Image: Christopher Day/Newsquest)

He told the Comet that the market had given him "the stepping stone that small businesses need".

The Comet:

"We couldn't have started, or gone to a shop, without having the market for the last six years."

The Comet:

After a previous false start - when he had hoped to rent a unit from Stevenage Borough Council, but found he "wasn't helped at all" by their estates department - he is looking forward to welcoming customers to the new unit this Saturday.

The Comet:

To mark the occasion, the first 25 customers spending more than £20 in store will receive free goody bags worth £25 - and anybody purchasing products on opening day will be entered into a raffle to win a special goody bag worth £100.

The Comet:

Portside make all of their own items in store, from bath bombs to car fresheners, and will be offering workshops and parties where customers can design their own products from start to finish.

Next door to Portside will be Cake & Sweet Magic.

Vickie runs Sweet Magic while her daughter, Demi, runs Cake Magic.

The Comet:

Their "perfect" new unit will host the sweet stall that has called the market its home for the past fifty years, and provide improved baking facilities for Demi.

The Comet:

There will be an entire wall of pick and mix to choose from, with more than 150 different type of sweets available.

The Comet:

Customers will be able to see some of the cakes being prepared, and enjoy extras including milkshakes and coffees.

The Comet:

And what about the future of the market?

Vickie said it was "a bit of a wrench" to leave, and added that the market's management team were "really good about it".

Ryan, meanwhile, reckons the market should be "moved to a central location".

"There's so many empty shops in the town - there's a large former McDonalds that could be turned into a new, vibrant space.

"Lots of other councils have put money into it, put it in the centre of their town, and made it more permanent.

"They have people from all over coming. It's newer and fresher rather than something that's having no money being put into it."

Council leader Richard Henry said: “Our Indoor Market serves as a perfect incubator where local entrepreneurs are able to kickstart their businesses, test new ideas, and connect with their community on a personal level. 

"These local businesses are fantastic examples of the great addition our Indoor Market brings to the town. It’s a shame to see them moving on, but really exciting to have been on their journey and to have seen them evolve into such successful companies.

"We’re really pleased they have been able to expand and relocate to shops on our high street and look forward to seeing them soon.”

Portside Soap Company and Sweet and Cake Magic will both be opening at 9am on Saturday, May 11.