Representatives from MR BIG were recently invited to attend a meeting with Mary Portas and Minister, Brandon Lewis, in Rotherham.
The event was to celebrate the regeneration of Rotherham’s High Street Area and the opening of their community shop.
Market Rasen was one of just four Portas Town Teams, invited to attend.
Sara and Jackie from the MR BIG Board were asked for their views on how the initiative was progressing and for their opinions on the support required from Central Government to continue with town transformation.
Mary Portas offered plenty of praise for the work done by Market Rasen and other Town Teams. She was also keen to emphasise that the national media had unfairly tarnished the work of volunteer teams around the country with their relentless “Portas bashing”. She remembered warmly her visit to our town, the fantastic commitment of our independent retailers to their High Street and singled out Greens Of Lincolnshire for particular praise.
Representatives from Central Government will be visiting Market Rasen in May to hear first-hand what our Town has achieved. We understand that Market Rasen is celebrated as one of the fastest-acting and most successful of the initial Portas Pilot Towns.
Having been a blustery wet night overnight, February’s BIG market dawned wet underfoot as the staff from West Lindsey district council set up the stalls on the Market Place in Market Rasen on February 1. There were old hands like the fruit and vegetable stall “Straight from the Farm” already set up and ready to go when it was still dark overhead. Jennie North explained that she’d been attending the market since she was a babe in arms, and her father had run the family stall, decades before.
“My father and brother ran the stall for forty years before me,” she said. “We’re here every week, and from March 7 will be here on Fridays as well. The trade picks up then, when people start to travel to the coast.” She and Brian Spittlehough were expertly setting up the stall and dealing with the first customers as the day was dawning, bright with winter sunshine after all the rain we’ve had.
Other traders were only at their second BIG market. Mr Bratley was setting up his stall which includes plants and very unusual bird houses and feeders. He’d started out selling through the Hub in Market Rasen, selling 16 bird houses and feeders a month, and had progressed to a stall.
“I have always wanted to do this, but I hadn’t had time until I retired. This is my second Mr BIG market, and I shall come every time now. I’m also going to Hemswell market.” he told us.
Parfitt’s Pets was one of the early stalls, with pet products and bird seed – “Keeing the pigeons alive in Market Rasen!” he joked, as he set out the stall.
Duncan Eaton was setting up his Eaton Hampers stall, at only his second BIG market. He explained that all the produce in their hampers is sourced from Lincolnshire. “Of course, we don’t grow tea in Lincolnshire, so I source that from Lincolnshire importers, but everything that can come from Lincolnshire, does come from Lincolnshire.”
It was a BIG week in all senses, this week, as the BIG Market had won the prize for Best Social Enterprise Market at the National Association of British Market Association’s (NABMA) awards just the previous Thursday. At the Advocate Arms, the volunteers from Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, and the men from West Lindsey district council, who set up the stalls for the market traders, joined together for a celebration breakfast, before being corralled together for a photograph for the Market Rasen Mail, who covered the story in the paper this week.
MR Big director Sara Scott gave an impromptu speech and thanked everyone, staff from the WLDC, volunteers, traders, for all their efforts in making the BIG markets a success. She thanked Jackie Smith and Sadie Richardson, the MR Big apprentice, for picking up the award on behalf of the group, and looked forward to continuing success in the year to come.
Back out on the market, the stalls were withstanding a bitterly cold wind, but people were upbeat in the glow of the award. Jenny’s Jams has only missed one BIG market since they started, and tries to source all her ingredients locally. I noticed that her lovely jam is included in Duncan’s hampers.
Next door, Greenfield Baker’s Sonja Hundal has also only missed a month. She was selling a wonderful range of artisan bread made with locally sourced organic flour from Maud Foster Windmill, cooked in a French Clay oven. The date and honey loaf was very good indeed – and very good with some jam from Jenny’s Jams next door.
In fact several stalls were selling produce which would go well with Sonja’s bread. Croft Apiaries was selling local honey and honey products, and Bob explained they come from just outside Market Rasen – you can’t get very much more local. Croft Apiaries sells honey, honey marmalade, honey granola, creams and balms, all including local honey.
Redhill Farm were selling their amazing pork, which featured recently in an issue of Lincolnshire Life and in James Martin’s Food Map of Britain. They were doing a brisk trade in Pork and Apple Burgers, a range of their famous sausages and pork products, and the constantly busy queue at their stall spoke for itself.
Hepy’s hog roast provided hot food and refreshments for the hungry market goer, which was certainly welcome when the wind blew bitterly cold.
Albion Artisan foods makes award-winning “Great Taste 2013″ foods, and Uwe was busy selling some of their gorgeous Chicken Liver Pates… which included Chicken Liver Pate with Orange and Cointreau and Chicken Liver Pate with Brandy and Herbs. They produce artisan bread as a joint venture with another company, and were included in the Great Taste book as a result of winning the Great Taste Award.
Steve at Lymn Bank Farm was selling fantastic cheeses – we recommend the cheese with cracked black pepper particularly! There were cakes from the Little Cake company, and Wilcox bakery, pies from Propa Pies, and West Wold Delicatessen had a range of wonderful foods on offer.
There were a number of craft and home decor stalls this month, including a range of home wares from Emma and Deborah at Sister Chic, some gorgeous Thuya Burlwood items from Gareth at Moroccan Handcrafts. Lesley Porter was selling silver jewellery on her “Designs by Lesley” stall.
At the White Holly stall, Danni extolled the virtues of all natural ingredients, with no parabens or petroleum products in their wares.
There were stalls from the Swimming Pool fundraiser, Market Rasen Primary school and the usual consultation table from the Town Council from 10 to 12 pm, and on the edge of the Market Place, plants from the Plant Nursery brought the promise of spring along with the sunshine.
The BIG market for February is on Saturday February 1, 2014 from 9am to 2pm in the historic Georgian Market Place, Market Rasen with more to celebrate than usual, having just picked up its 2nd national market award from NABMA as Britain’s Best Social Enterprise Market 2014!
As usual, the BIG market, held on the first Saturday of the month, will be packed with local food producers. Mr Plewes from Beasthorpe Farm will be there with his delicious double yolker eggs!
Market Rasen will also be hosting regular farmer’s market favourites Jenny’s Jams; cakes from the Little Cake Company; artisan foods from Albion, Taste of Sardinia, and The West Wold Delicatessen, the own brand range of Greens of Lincolnshire which this week has been chosen as a finalist in the annual Love Food Select Lincolnshire awards in the category of best food retailer/ wholesaler. Smoked and flavoured cheeses will be available to try before you buy from Lynne Bank Farm Cheese, with artisan bread from Greenfield Bakers. Visitors and Market Rasen residents can also look forward to honey products from Croft Selections, sweets from Memorable Treats and and hearty pies perfect to take home as tea time treats in this wintery weather courtesy of Propa Pies.
There is such a wide variety of stalls, it’s hard to fit them all in: gifts and food from English Rose, Toys and DVDs from the pool fundraising team, with Scouts offering refreshments and Market Rasen Church of England Primary school offering biscuits and sweets. Tuck into Hepy’s Hog Roast, award winning meat from Redhill Farm plus fruit pies, cakes and scones from Wilcox Bakery. As always you can pick up your weekly fruit and veg from the Norths, plants from Roger plus underwear and much more – gifts and garden accessories from Helen of J Waterman Timber Services, and natural skin care and beauty products from White Holly. Anne Lowish is selling Forever Aloe Vera products, and there are stunning home accessories from Emma and Deborah of Sister Chic.
Bird cages and feeders are being offered by Mr Bratley, Moroccan Handcrafts by Mr Jepson, and Lincolnshire hampers and gifts from Eaton Hampers. Designs by Lesley will be selling jewellery and silver too.
The secret of our success is YOU. The market and Market Rasen high street needs customers to support it, and the more customers, the easier it is to persuade exciting new sellers to set up a stall and start selling locally, and the more we can support social enterprise.
Speaking of their 2nd national markets award Sara Scott, chair of MR BIG, said: “This makes us particularly proud as it recognises that the market is organised by committed volunteers.
“We’re one of just nine markets winning national awards – so really this confirms our place as an innovator and leader in markets provision.”
Come along and see for yourself every 1st Saturday of the month.
Launched at the end of last year, the Market Rasen Virtual Heritage Tour represents a collaboration of many groups and individuals, and it attracted funding from both the National Lottery and the Heritage Lottery fund. The tour is accessible from your computer at home or from smart phones or tablets while walking around the town. There are voiceovers and videos from 10 historical and architectural highlights around the town included in the tour.
Taking about 30 minutes to complete, it has been publicized in the local press, leaflets and posters around the town, and has awakened an interest in the history of Market Rasen. Mr BIG did the project management and administration for the project, Rase Heritage society did the research, sourced pictures and gave help in production. Some of those involved from the Heritage Society were Hazel Barnard, Brenda Overton, Mal Jones, Brian Ward and Caroline Foster.
The Market Rasen mail suppied photographs and newspapers from their collection. Brandthing, Push Creativity and Root Studio were involved in the creative direction, design, and website development, and students from Lincoln College developed the look and feel of the site and the literature associated with the project.
The final 10 stories were voted for by the people of Market Rasen. Click this link if reading this on a screen or scan the QR code on the displays with your smart phone. You can start the tour at any point in the real world or virtually, from the comfort of your chair!
Speaking to the Market Rasen Mail, Hazel Barnard, one of the researchers, said: “This has been a great opportunity for Rase Heritage Society to delve into archives, photographs and family histories to find Market Rasen’s past stories. We hope that visitors and residents alike enjoy their trips into our past.”
Mr BIG encouraged traders to participate in a loyalty reward scheme this year, with cards being delivered to thousands of homes around Market Rasen in the weeks before the promotion began. Shoppers could collect stamps on their Christmas Tree card at participating shops, for spending £5 in the shop. The first prize in the draw was an amazing prize of £1000 travel voucher was very generously sponsored by Lincolnshire Co-operative, who have been so supportive of the town and town events to match the £500 donated by Mr BIG. Eleven of the high street retailers donated prizes to a minimum value of £50 each. “It was brilliant,” said Bridget Pitman-Brand, owner of the Market Rasen pet shop. “It really, really worked. People were coming into my shop to buy cat food simply because of the loyalty card – they usually buy elsewhere.” The big draw took place on Christmas Eve outside the Lincolnshire Co-operative Travel Shop in Market Rasen, and the first prize of a £1000 travel voucher was awarded to Vikki Bakin and a lot of other prizes were won by people all over the town.
Mr Big and Lincolnshire Co-op launched My Market Rasen this week with the chance for loyal high street shoppers to WIN £1000 holiday voucher plus £400 in runners-up prizes.
A BIG ‘buy local’ campaign kicked off this Tuesday outside Lincolnshire Co-operative’s Travel Shop in Market Rasen. A loyalty card scheme is being piloted to encourage residents to shop with Market Rasen independents on the high street in the run up to Christmas.10 of Market Rasen’s high st indies have donated a prize of a minimum value of £50 each. Participating independent high street retailers will give customers a sticker for their card when they spend at least £5 in one transaction up until 23rd December.
Lincolnshire Co-op Food Store in Market Rasen is kindly giving out loyalty cards but the stickers are to collected along the high street independents (as well as the Lincolnshire Market Rasen Travel Shop) as the cost of creating enough stickers for the Co-op to take part would be unsupportable and not in keeping with the scheme’s very strong ethos about supporting the high street itself.
In addition 4000 cards are being distributed door to door across LN8, with a further 1000 in the retailers’ shops themselves, so the potential to attract new customers into Market Rasen and encourage more spending from existing customers is strong.
Little Milberry – £50 voucher
Market Rasen Pet Centre – 5 x £10 vouchers
Greens Of Lincolnshire – 10 x £15 veg boxes for just £10 each
Rumpelstiltskin Kitchen and Furniture Shop – £50 voucher
Market Rasen Hardware Store – Large Log Basket
The Pink Pod – £50 voucher
Forget Me Not Florist – 2 x £25 voucher
Blue River Jewellery – 5 x £10 voucher
Isn’t She Lovely – 5 x £10 voucher
Lancasters (15 & 47 Queen St) – 1 x £25 voucher for each shop
The generosity of high street retailers is matched with a HUGE 1st prize to be drawn on Christmas Eve outside Lincolnshire Co-operative Travel Shop in Market Rasen, giving one lucky shopper the ultimate Christmas gift of £1000 holiday from Lincolnshire Co-op who have donated £500 matched by Mr Big.
The runners-up prizes will be drawn by each of the retailers in their high street stores on Christmas Eve morning, creating a real buzz of excitement along the high street at this magical time.
Mr Big Director Sarah Lamballe told us, “We were thrilled that Ursula Lidbetter, now Chairman of the Co-operative Group, warmly received the idea we put to Wayne Dennet and has given us her full support by backing the idea with very generous sponsorship which shows how important it is to recognise the value of ‘local shopping’ at the heart of any community.”
Sarah added “This is just the beginning of MY MARKET RASEN which we hope to develop in 2014
with all our retailers and service providers coming on board to excite residents and visitors with unique special offers”.
Mr Big would like to thank Lincolnshire Co-operative with special mentions to Ursula Lidbetter, Wayne Dennett, Chris Cocking and Amanda Chesson for their huge positivity and support.
We’d also like to thank Leesa of Little Milberry, Bridget of Market Rasen Pet Centre, Maria of Greens of Lincolnshire, Colin of Rumplestiltskin, Ken and Sue of Market Rasen Hardware, Anna of The Pink Pod, Richard and Gill of Forget Me Not Florist, Wendy of Blue River Jewellery, Maria of Isn’t She Lovely and Richard of Lancasters for being early adopters of ‘My Market Rasen’ and we’d love to hear from any of our other high street retailers who would like to join in future ideas for 2014.
These terms and conditions govern your participation in the My Market Rasen Christmas Loyalty Card Scheme.
By taking part in the My Market Rasen loyalty scheme you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions. My Market Rasen may refuse an application for any good reason. If you wish to do so, please print and retain a copy of these Terms for your reference.
1. Subject to these Terms, a completed My Market Rasen Loyalty Card entitles the bearer (you) entry into the prize draw.
2. To claim a sticker you must show your Loyalty Card: at the till point of the participating shop when making a purchase of £5 or more with a maximum of 2 stickers per transaction.
3. The closing date for the prize draw is 5pm on the 23rd of December, any cards submitted after this point will not be entered into the prize draw.
4. There will be one winner who will win a £1,000 holiday voucher. There will be …. Winners who will win the runners up prizes which are listed on the My Market Rasen Loyalty Card.
5. Prizes will be awarded to entries picked at random by an independent person on the 24th December at 10am, the 23rd of December is the last day in which completed cards can be handed in to participating retailers.
6. Each winner will be contacted by telephone within 21 days of, and receive their prize by going into the participating retailer no later than 28 days after, the Prize Draw Date.
7. If a winner for a Draw Period cannot be contacted using reasonable efforts within 21 days from the Prize Draw Date for that Draw Period, then an alternative winner will be drawn from the entries.
8. The prizes must be accepted as offered. There is no cash alternative. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group reserves the right to award an alternative prize of equal or greater value, should the advertised prize or any part of it become unavailable.
9. The result of the prize draws is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
10. The name will be available on request to all entrants in the prize draws by sending a stamp addressed envelope to Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, 27 Newton House, Market Place, Market Rasen, LN8 3HL and may be posted online.
11. Each winner may be required to participate in reasonable press or PR activity related to the prize draw as notified by us.
12. All entrants to the prize draw will be deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions.
13. No responsibility is accepted for entries, which fail to be properly submitted for any technical reason whatsoever. Entries submitted by any other means will be rejected.
14. The My Market Rasen Loyalty Card has no cash redemption value.
15. The list of participating shops is published on the Market Rasen Guide website. My Market Rasen reserves the right to amend the list of participating shops at any time and will give notice of changes via www.marketrasenguide.co.uk.
16. The My Market Rasen Loyalty Card remains the property of Market Rasen Business Improvement Group at all times. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group reserves the right at any time to: a. alter these Terms b. withdraw the Loyalty Scheme and/or an individual’s My Market Rasen Loyalty Card.
17. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group may take any action it considers appropriate, including withdrawing an individual’s My Market Rasen Loyalty Card, if it has reason to believe that an individual is abusing the Scheme or is in breach of these Terms.
18. Each participating shop reserves the right to withdraw from the Scheme at any time.
19. My Market Rasen Loyalty Card is not responsible, and shall not be held liable, for products and services offered and sold by participating shops. Products and services are offered according to that shop’s own terms and conditions.
20. Stickers are only available for purchases made in the outlet of participating shops and are not available via their respective websites.
21. A copy of these Terms can be found at www.marketrasenguide.co.uk. In some cases, individual participating shops may have their own additional terms & conditions in relation to the Scheme, which also form part of these Terms.
22. By handing in your full loyalty card consent Market Rasen Business Improvement Group contacting you, including via email, to tell you about other events, promotions and activities in the Market Rasen area. You may opt out of receiving such communications at any time.
23. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group will not pass on your personal information to third parties, except as may be required for the purposes of administering the Scheme.
24. The My Market Rasen Loyalty Card is promoted by Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, company number 08171841. Registered address Newland House, The Point, Weaver Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QN.
25. If you wish to contact Market Rasen Business Improvement Group for any reason please email email@example.com. If a My Market Rasen Loyalty Card is found it should be returned to 27 Newton House, Market Rasen, LN8 3HL.
26. These Terms are governed by the laws of England and Wales.
The owners are particularly looking to understand more about the history of the building and any ideas the general public may have for how the property might be brought back to worthwhile use for the benefit of the Town.
As a Portas Pilot Town, Market Rasen benefits from a package of support funded by the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government. That package included a fully-funded mystery shopper exercise for our high street shops and businesses and during July this year that exercise was carried out.
MR BIG promoted the mystery shopper exercise to all the town centre traders and we were delighted that 29 of these opted to participate. Storecheckers Uk‘s mystery shoppers duly descended on the town and began assessing traders on the quality of such actions as the intitial contact made with customers, service, sales techniques and local knowledge. MR BIG received the feedback from Storecheckers at a business meeting in September and the traders have all been given individual feedback on their visit.
The total average score for the 29 businesses was 70%. A number of the shops who took part were highly praised for their efforts. Several shops and businesses have begun using their feedback (eg 100% customer satisfaction) in their marketing. One of the mystery shoppers added, “I will definitely be recommending (the business visited) to friends and family as I was impressed with the range and the attentive service. I will be going back when (the product purchased) is in stock to buy for my granddaughter as the shop was wonderful.”
A series of useful recommendations were also made to the town traders by Storecheckers. These included making sure that all customers are “offered help” upon initial contact, developing sales techniques to encourage more buys and educating all staff with a Top Ten Tips for Trippers like the locations of facilities. It was also recommended that visitors be encouraged by shop staff to stay in Market Rasen longer.
MR BIG would like to thank the shops and businesses, the shoppers, Storecheckers and everybody else involved in the exercise. Thank you.
Marie Spence is the owner of Isn’t She Lovely. This lady’s boutique opened on Market Rasen’s Union Street during the summer, with another boutique already successfully doing business in Brigg. We caught up with Marie to see how things are going and what she makes of Market Rasen so far.
We started by asking Marie when the business started and what brought her to Market Rasen. “Isn’t She Lovely started in December 2011 in Brigg. We opened here (in Rasen) on June the 20th this year. I think the thing is I’d been to Rasen a few times and it’s a super little place. I knew there were lovely shops here but nothing that we were selling in Brigg so, with not a lot of competition here, certainly for my area of the market, I started looking round for units. I spoke to MR BIG and I spoke to some Landlords and I was offered some really good rates.”
Isn’t She Lovely has been in Market Rasen for just over three months now and with all that promise we asked Marie what business has been like so far. “Well, in spite of all that it was still a bit of a risk. I avoided the high street because the rent is just that bit higher and I was wary of the fact that there were empty shops in the town. But it’s gone well so far. Thursdays are our best days. That’s when we’re busiest. But it is very early yet. It takes a couple of years to really get established and nurture a customer base and customer loyalty.”
As a newcomer, Marie is well placed to give an objective view of MR BIG so we asked what she’s made of the scheme so far. “I would say I’ve heard some mixed reviews since I’ve been here. But I know from the changes that have taken place in Brigg over the years that these things take time.”
With Marie running shops in both Market Rasen and Brigg, she was quick to elaborate on the similarities between the two towns. She said, “I remember when Brigg was first pedestrianised and there were a few problems. A lot of traders claimed that it hurt their businesses because people couldn’t park outside. It was a bit like Tesco coming to Market Rasen. Some people feel that it takes business away from the town centre but it also brings people to Market Rasen that might not otherwise have come. In any case we need supermarkets these days. That’s just part of 21st century life.” She continued, “if more shops open in the centre as well then people will only be encouraged to do even more of their shopping locally, here in Rasen, especially if the town has greater variety and more things that people can’t get elsewhere, as well as the basic things that they need. And, of course, the free parking is a big draw too. It’s one of the other things that encouraged me to open here. Anyway, I would suggest the scheme is definitely something good to start with but it does take time.”
Marie also has a suggestion that she feels could benefit all of the town’s traders, not least of all those on Union Street. “I think one improvement that is certainly worth looking into is some better signage. Union Street street is an important link up in the town with Tesco and the train station one end and the high street at the other. You also have all the traders along Union Street and the car park. So Union Street and the high street really feed into one another and I think it would be great to get some signage at either end pointing people towards or at least through Union Street. We get quite a few tourists and visitors in this area and signage just encourages people to go a bit further and explore a bit more.”
Marie clearly has long term plans to stay in Market Rasen but what of the short term future? What next for Isn’t She Lovely? “Right now we’re planning to do something for the Christmas period. All through December we’re looking to open eight till eight, one day a week, probably Thursdays.”
The welcome addition of Isn’t She Lovely to the town could well be a sign of the burgeoning improvements and certainly gives cause for optimism. Marie’s input too looks likely to be an important gain. But what do you think? Have you spotted any similarities between Market Rasen and other towns and cities, promising or otherwise? Do you think the town would benefit from better signposting? And would you like to see other businesses offering eight to eight and late night shopping through the Christmas period? As ever, let us know with a comment here or on our facebook page or twitter.
The first Saturday of October we held our annual Big Food Market and we would like very much to thank everybody who ran the stalls and all of those who came to support the market. The turnout was fantastic, Dominic Franks was on fine form with his cooking demonstrations, the sun was out, the variety of different stalls on show was exciting and the food was delicious.
In addition, we took this ideal opportunity to launch the BIG FOOD Recipe Book. This little cookbook features recipes from some of Lincolnshire’s finest artisan food producers – who also happen to be regular stallholders at Market Rasen’s award winning markets.
We’re looking forward to seeing everyone back at our next BIG monthly market on Saturday 2nd November.
See you there.