Traders are courting a bargain clothes chain in the hope it will move to Ilkeston and spark off the town’s revival.
They have launched a petition which was signed by about 1,000 people walking in Bath Street on Saturday.
Organiser Josephine Smith, who works at the All Things Nice cafe, said: “People come into the shop, saying, ‘we want more places like Primark’.
“People go to Nottingham and Derby for it and we want them to come here. People love it. We have lots of empty shops and too many charity shops.
“Primark would be good for our trade. They offer value for money and that would reduce the number of charity shops.
“The council doesn’t seem to care or do anything but we are determined to do something,” said Ms Smith, who added that she was encouraged by the response to the petition.
A spokesman for Primark said they were ‘unable to comment on store openings’.
It has 161 UK stores and nearly 100 overseas – choosing Derby for its first high street operation.
A spokesman for Erewash Borough Council said it had received ‘no approach’ from Primark.
“Suffice to say the council would work positively with such organisations to secure investment in our town centres, if approached,” he added.
Primark has a reputation for clothing at low prices and has developed its own fashion range. It also sells bedding and other items.