Monthly Archives: October 2013

Market Rasen ATCM Storecheckers Mystery Shopping Review

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.

MR BIG ASKS… Marie Spence

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.

MARKET RASEN’S BIG FOOD MARKET SUCCESS

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.

MR BIG ASKS… Anna Finney

To many people in Market Rasen Anna Finney is now a familiar face on the high street, with her popular boutique, The Pink Pod, drawing several customers to the Big Corner Shop before Anna struck out on her own and reopened The Pod further up the high street in the unit that formerly housed Scoops. But, despite her seemingly well established status on the high street, it may come as some surprise to learn just how recent and exponential Anna’s rise has been. We visited the Pod for a catch up.

We began by asking when The Pod started. “The Pod started September last year (2012). At first it was just a very simple idea. I wanted to sell some pieces of furniture from home but as the winter months approached obviously I didn’t just want furniture sat outside my house. So I started selling some Christmas items inside and quite quickly I found myself in a position to get into a unit because of the opportunity came along with the Corner Shop and MR BIG.”

Now that Anna’s left the Big Corner Shop and settled into the new unit, we asked how business has been of late. “So far, so good. It’s still a risk though. I think I need a full year to really know for sure whether I’m doing what I need to be. But there are two things that I’ve really benefited from. The exposure that I got from being a part of the Big Corner Shop is hugely important. Exposure is everything really. The main thing, though, are my wonderful, wonderful customers. They’re the ones who drive me, encourage me and keep my door open.”

Anna has also had some success with using facebook to her advantage. We asked how she’s made the most of the internet. “Again, the exposure is great. To be honest, I’m a complete technophobe, though. I don’t really know how I’ve managed it. I was so proud I even managed to upload a picture onto facebook.”

During our visit we noticed a number of Christmas related stock around The Pod, including trees. We asked if Anna has already made some Christmas sales. “Yeah, I’ve got some bits in for Christmas already and they’re starting to go alright. I have had some business there. The small, stocking filler items have been really popular so far. Also, if anyone’s interested, I’m a pretty mean gift wrapper, as long as it’s not one of those trees.”

With business in full swing, we wondered if Anna gets any time to unwind a bit, so we asked if her if she has a book on the go at the moment. “I do, actually. I’m reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I’ve just started it but in the few little quiet moments that I get here I do treat myself to a few pages. The trouble is I’m finding it so good I got startled the other day. A customer came up to the till with something and I didn’t even realise they were in the shop! That was a bit embarrassing.”

Finally we asked who Anna would be if she could step into somebody else’s shoes for a day. “One of the Dragons (from Dragon’s Den). Probably Peter Jones because he seems like a nice family man. I’d want to learn all their tips and secrets, see.”

Anna’s story is so far one of rapid success and in time perhaps the young entrepreneurs of the town’s future will want to be let in on a few of her best business secrets. For the time being we’d love to hear your say. Have you been to The Pink Pod? What do you think about shops getting the Christmas stock in early? And is a combination of online and high street exposure the small retail business model of the 21st Century? Once more, let us know with a comment here, on our facebook page and on twitter.

SATURDAY 5TH OCTOBER BIG FOOD MARKET

Savoury, sweet, spicy, scrumptious, fresh, delicious, LOCAL!

Lincolnshire’s finest artisan food and drink is NEVER to be missed and it’s going to be filling up the market square in MARKET RASEN, with all of its compelling aromas and exploding flavours, on SATURDAY the 5th of OCTOBER. We don’t let the leaf fall bring us down, we reap the harvest.

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We have some new faces along with our ever-popular regulars which will make for a tremendous day out. Be sure to visit Market Rasen’s unique high street shops and eateries in and around town too. This also includes the BIG Corner Shop – relocated on Union Street – which is full of delightful crafts and accessories. 

So, with cooking demonstrations by the exceptional Dominic Franks, from 10am until 2pm, the launch of BIG FOOD, a cook book full of all your favourite recipes from the BIG MARKET traders, FREE PARKING, arts and crafts and, of course, mountains of magnificent LOCAL food, join us and make sure YOU don’t miss the BIG FOOD MARKET!

Please make a date in your diary and be sure to come along – it is one we’ve been looking forward to all year long.