Last month High Streets Minister Marcus Jones welcomed new guidance that will help cities, towns and villages show the positive impact that markets can bring to their local area and economy. The new guidance ‘Assessing the Financial Performance of Your Market’ is available on the Nabma website. It is designed to enable market managers to better assess and demonstrate the benefits that markets can bring to the local economy.
'Love Your Local Market' is a celebration of market culture that happens over a fortnight in May each year. In 2015 a record number of 1,200 places took part and over 3,800 market events were held over the fortnight.
Here at The GBE we are all for activity which supports and drives footfall to British high streets. We have found many of our producers via markets and with activity seemingly ramping up in this sector to support both traders and event managers we got in touch with Alistair Turnham from MAKE Markets to discuss what he feels are important issues for his traders and where he hopes the British market will be in the future...
MAKE Markets was created following an overseas trip to the Far East, where night markets offered families a place to enjoy food, drinks and they could buy nice things. "It really appealed to me that towns and cities after dark could be about more than getting drunk. We want to provide a night market platform for producers to meet consumers and create great public experiences," explained Alistair.
Named MAKE to reflect that all the traders, be it street food, artisan food or designers and artists, 'make' their own goods, Alistair feels that MAKE benefits traders in three ways:
1. Provides an environment in which traders can sell their goods.
2. Provides opportunities for makers to find contacts and establish potential relationships for commissions
3. Allows makers to test their products before perhaps opening a retail outlet or selling online
'For us, a successful market needs to fit the local demographic and it's important to match the right trader with the right catchment area. We're also always rotating our guest traders so that visitors can see something new each time they visit," said Alistair who is extremely passionate that traders as well as organisers are responsible for the success of a market.
He went on to explain, "The biggest factor in creating a successful market is marketing, you can't just expect people to come because you're there, you have to promote using every channel possible and that's an organiser's and trader's job. Great customer service is also vital, from us to traders and from traders to customers - I don't care how great your product is, if you're not passionate about it and you don't interact with the public we won't even consider you, that's why we visit all traders where possible in advance without telling them who we are. I want to feel great when leaving your stall even if I've just bought a kilo of bananas, otherwise I might as well buy it from Tesco."
As well as customer service and marketing Alistair is also conscious of the legalities that his traders have to comply with. The National Market Traders Federation and National Association of British Market Authorities is calling that all stall holders have public liability insurance and Alistair feels that whilst this is a good idea in principle there should be a cheaper alternative for non-food makers, "It seems unfair to me that they might have to pay the same for insurance as somebody who is serving food and all the hygiene, gas and electricity issues that they will have."
So with statistics showing that the number of traders in the UK is falling but with markets such as MAKE proving ever popular, what is the role of the traditional market going forward?
"In my research with Department for Communities and Local Government I found that there is a far too common trait with traditional traders who feel the council is not doing enough. Far too infrequently do those traders look at themselves and say 'we should be taking responsibility for our market' especially for our marketing and promotion. I must stress that traditional markets are brilliant and there are some world class traders but in order for markets in Britain to succeed they need to market themselves as part of a wider town centre offer and experience."
A high street "experience" is not a new concept and here at The GBE we are very familiar with the phrase, Mary Portas and The Great British High Street Awards are all coining the same phrase and pushing for new, inventive ways to generate footfall to the highstreet. Recently The Teenage Market has been making headlines with their activities to support young traders and encourage a new generation to harness their entrepreneurial skills, combining a retail shopping environment with local performers and community groups. All of this cannot help but impress the idea that people want to support local businesses and champion products made here in Britain.
Enabling British producers to get their products to retailers who in turn can offer consumers new and exciting products is our way of supporting British high streets and we applaud and support all the other businesses and organisations who are trying to do the same.
If you have visited a fantastic market or have a view on how markets have supported your business whether as a maker or retailer we would love to here from you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and if you're interested in working with MAKE Markets you can email email@example.com