Former stalwarts of Coalville Market keeping close to the community with high street shop

Published: Wed 2 November, 2022

Nimmi's Boutique owners Nimmi, Imran and Raj Akmal stand outside of their shop

A family that traded on Coalville’s former market for 40 years is continuing to support the town’s high street thanks to a move to bricks and mortar.

The Akmal family were stalwarts of Coalville’s former market, trading from multiple stalls since 1981. Following the closure of the leaking Market Hall in 2021, Nimmi, Imran and Raj decided to open a shop, Nimmi’s Boutique, in the Belvoir Shopping Centre, selling ladies clothes, handbags and accessories.

The shop opened in August 2021, with the help of a £1,000 grant from North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) to support businesses taking on new premises during the pandemic.

Owner and mother of the family Nimmi Akmal, 67, said: “I have a customer who comes to the shop now who bought from me the first day we started on the market, and she is still with us.

“When the market was closing all my customers were asking when we were coming back. The reason I opened this shop is that people wanted us.

“After all these years I know our customers and know what they want.”

Life trading on the market was very different to selling from a shop; before the move the family would often be up at 2am to visit the wholesalers before travelling to the market to set up in time for the shutters to open.

Nimmi and Raj opened their first stall in Coalville after the birth of their eldest son, and were soon trading on other markets in the area including Burton and Castle Donington, but also as far away as Cleethorpes.

More than a decade ago the family decided to simplify the business, trading only from Coalville. Then in 2021 the stall evolved again to a physical shop.

Youngest son Imran, 38, works in the shop full-time. He said: “We wanted to stay local to the town. We wanted a shop in the town. When it opened, we had customers who we knew, but now we get new customers and people from other towns. We’ve even had visits from people from across the world.” 

The shop now opens at 9.15am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday, giving the Akmal’s more time to spend together, and a warmer environment to help their customers find what they’re looking for.

Imran added: “We don’t feel cold at the end of the day anymore.

“There’s nothing better than being your own boss. I enjoy interactions with customers, that’s the best part of it. You learn interesting things about people when they are buying products, and we have customers who come back in and show us how they’re wearing the clothes.”

Councillor Tony Gillard, NWLDC Portfolio Holder for Business and Regeneration, said: “It’s great to see a business that traded on the market for four decades continuing to serve the community.

“I’m really pleased to see customers continuing to support our local high streets and seeing how businesses and entrepreneurs are looking to deliver the experiences and goods that people want. Congratulations and thank you to the Akmal family for all that you do for your customers and our area.”