Category Archives: Opportunities

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 Gardener’s Market 2013

 

 

Gardeners Market Day

At MR BIG we’re getting rather excited about the Market Rasen Lion’s Club Annual Gardener’s Market and Spring Fayre.  We seriously recommend coming along to the Market Place and Festival Hall on the 1st and 2nd of June and getting ready to make your gardens look really special this summer.

As well as bountiful stalls full of garden goodies, not to mention food, the Lions have invited guest speakers Steve Lovell and Andrew Sankey to appear in the Festival Hall, at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm respectively on both days.  They’ll be discussing a variety of subjects including Shakespeare’s Cottage Flowers and Wildlife in the Garden.

We were delighted to put the regional press in touch with the event’s organisers to help increase publicity for this spectacular charity festival and, of course, for Market Rasen itself.

Check out our new, online Town Events Calendar to find out about other upcoming events.  And if your community group, business or venue is planning an event, email mrbigapprentice@gmail.com ASAP and our dedicated Town Centre Management Team will add it to the calendar so that your event details are also publicised online in this simple and accessible way.

Breakfast at Rasen Gardeners Market Promotion pic (2)

The BIG Corner Shop – Retail Opportunity in a Portas Pilot town

Part-time for 3 months fixed term


Dear friend,

As you may know, MR BIG has a lovely little community Arts and Crafts shop called The Big Corner Shop on the corner of the Market Place in Market Rasen.

We opened just over 3 months ago as a space where budding entrepreneurs and retailers could try their hand at High Street Trading.

The lady who managed the shop for the first 3 months has moved on to pastures new and we’re looking to find a replacement.

It’s a 3 month contract to begin for the start of June. It will be 5 days per week (including Saturdays). Hours are likely to be late afternoons c2pm-4.30pm. But flexibility is required and more hours may be required on certain days by agreement.

The role is managing the shop. Specifically this includes managing the till, cashing up and banking, ensuring the shop is kept in tip top condition and nicely merchandised, managing a rota of volunteers and dealing with the traders who supply the shop.

The rate of pay is £8/hour. Ideally, previous retail experience is required. If you are interested, please return a CV or brief letter outlining your skills and experience to mrbig.coordinator@gmail.com. Closing date for applications is Thursday 23rd May.

Kind regards, MR BIG

Market Rasen High Street has the X Factor

 

 

Around Christmas time last year, we drew up a bid and submitted it to government, explaining some of the great things we’ve achieved in Market Rasen and outlining some further ideas we would like to implement to continue our journey to re-invigorate the High Street.

 

We were one of 55 towns who applied (and submitted videos) and only 7 towns were given the award.  In the words of our representative from Government – we are a truly exceptional town.  We asked for £79K, But we were awarded £101,057. . .and it’s taken us a little while to find out why, which is why we’ve not been super-quick to announce the details of the win.  We wanted to get our facts straight.

 

So here they are.

 

 

Our bid was formed from the ideas laid down in our town transformation plan, written with the input of traders and business people back in February 2012.  It builds on the four promises laid down in our Portas bid:  Town Tidy Up, Markets, Shopping and Marketing and Promotion to drive footfall.

 

This bid includes a host of activites, they include:

 

 

Town Tidy Up

 

‘Operation Ice Cream’ which will create a fund to help shop owners and businesses repaint their shop frontages

 

  • Gardening initiatives, including community groups and schools to improve unloved areas of the town 

 

  • Love Your Street – a scheme to encourage groups to ‘adopt’ and care for areas of our town

 

  • Shop Window Award to develop Visual Merchandising skills for retailers

 

Markets 

 

  • Management fund to ensure we can continue to host BIG monthly markets and to continue to fund our Town Centre Manager for a 2nd year

 

  • Funds to try new and different markets formats to keep things fresh and exciting

 

  • Work with local councils and transport providers to provide market day buses and trains from Lincoln and Grimsby.

 

Shopping Sustainability

 

  • Community cafe with gallery space and family friendly facilities and visitor information. 

 

  • Personal shopping service and outreach for vulnerable people and people without access to transport. 

 

  • Develop overnight accommodation provision and ensure our visitors have a VIP experience

 

  • Formal support package for start-up businesses

 

Marketing

 

  • Improving the visitor experience through signage and information.

 

  • Shop Local campaign

 

  • Regional tourist promotions to create a branded offer to visitors, showcasing our towns assets including Racecourse, outdoor activities as a Lincolnshire Wolds Town, Biker events, Food Tourism etc.

 

  • Promote Market Rasen and surrounding villages regionally as cultural destination for arts and crafts

 

As you can see, there’s a lot to do here and the money we’ve won is allocated in small portions against each of these activities, so we need to think carefully about what projects we undertake in what order.  

 

 

There is no deadline on when we spend the money and we’ve still got approximately 50% of our Portas funds left – so there are plenty of projects on the go already.

 

We were keen to understand why the Government had awarded us an extra £22K.  The answer is that these funds are there to help us make our projects sustainable – so to pay for the people resources required to keep things moving, but also to help us spread news of our projects by networking with other town teams.  They are not to be allocated to new and additional projects to those outlined in our bid.

 

In the couple of weeks since the X Fund win was announced in the national media, I’ve been approached by a handful of concerned townspeople, who were worried or unclear about the purpose and remit of MR BIG.  First, a number of people expressed concern about the idea of having a ‘community cafe’ as part of our plans and that it would encroach on other eateries in town. To be clear – there is a limited budget of £10K against this activity and the focus will be on creating a family-friendly environment that fulfils a number of different functions for residents and visitors. The location and format of this initiative is not agreed and the opportunity will be tendered out at a date tbc for local businesses or groups to ‘bid’ to take this activity forward.  

 

 

Secondly, I’ve been asked on many occasions for MR BIG to extend the scope of works to tackle a host of different issues the town faces.  Again, we want to be clear that as a business improvement group there is a limit and focus to our remit that is around regenerating our High Street and businesses within Market Rasen.  Activities that encourage business growth will continue to be our primary focus.  Whilst these may have benefits to the overall community as a whole, our Group is not a catch-all for every issue our town faces.   

 

Our Board takes time and care to ensure that we remain true to the vision we set right at the outset at the beginning of 2012 – which was to make Market Rasen a more inviting place to be and to drive the footfall on the High Street that will benefit local businesses so that they, in turn can invest in our town.

 

 

In light of recent feedback from our members, we will be looking to meet with them more regularly and informally over the months ahead, so we can continue to canvass the views, opinions and ideas that have been critical to our success thus far.

 

 

Sara Scott – Chair MR BIG