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 Directors and the Town Team welcomed traders and businesses members to a liaison meeting on Wednesday 31 July at the Market Rasen Cricket Club. The meeting was preceded by a motivational talk from sales expert Susan Marot. Susan gave practical advice on improving sales and offered her services to traders in Market Rasen – see Susan’s LinkedIn profile to get in touch
MR BIG Board Directors gave updates and plans on the 4 Portas Pilot Promises: Town Tidy Up, Shopping Sustainability, Marketing, and Market Development. Attendees heard that our ‘High Street’ is now approaching 100% occupancy with several new businesses having opened in the town over the past few weeks. July’s Independent Retail month activities had put Market Rasen on the map: the national lead, retail guru Clare Rayner, had visited the town and given a talk and advice at a business lunch at the Advocate Arms on 30th July. (See this link for more information about Indie Retail http://www.independentretailermonth.co.uk/clare-rayner/ )
Sara Scott, Chairperson of MR BIG, displayed and introduced some exciting new marketing materials to promote Market Rasen as a tourist and visitor destination regionally and nationally. A ‘Shop Local’ promotion and posters were also previewed. Watch out for the posters and advertising boards going on display around the town over the next few weeks.
Richard Hallsworth, the Finance Director, gave a comprehensive update on the Portas Pilot money spend to date (as at May 2013 approaching 40% spend of the £98k funding).
The Town Team outlined plans for the £101k funding awarded from the Government’s High Street X fund. These include a community cafe, guerilla gardening and more Town Tidy Up activities.
All the presentations and information can be found on the two Powerpoint documents linked at the end of this post. If you would like a copy of the presentations emailing then please contact us.
Board Vacancies with MR BIG
We currently have 4 vacant seats on our Board. If you think you might be interested in getting more involved, get in touch. We are going to be holding a planning session in September to discuss our project plans and priorities for administering the £101K we won as part of the High Street Renewal Fund.
Joining existing Board members to generate ideas and discuss our approach provides the perfect opportunity to understand more about what we do and how we work together.
If you’d like to come along, simply email Nicola Marshall, Town Centre Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Applications for the roles will be taken following the session.
Recently around the town centre you may have noticed there have been some fantastic changes. Not only have shops been sprucing up out front with a lick of paint thanks to help from those at JK Building Maintenance but there are new planters at the train station and, with the help of the community payback scheme, the telephone box in the marketplace has been painted and the bench has been replaced. The Advocate Arms has also installed a new sign outside their building.
The new facelift in Market Rasen is a very welcome sight as one of the promises made by MR BIG to the Portas Pilot Scheme was that the town centre would be tidied up.
Darren Lince, Property and Commercial Volunteer Director, who is leading the Town Tidy Up initiative was extremely happy to see the new changes. “As a local business owner I am delighted that we’re seeing so many other businesses on the High Street further enhancing their properties and this includes Town & Country Carpets, Rhodes and McColl’s. We also have a commitment that when The White Swan is purchased from the administrators (of the Freehold title) that will also be “spruced up”.
When these improvements are combined with the enhancements at The Goldmine, the old Halifax building and the opening of Greens as well as the painting of all the metalwork around the Market Place and many more positive advances it is great to have some positive news to balance the negative and inaccurate picture of Market Rasen portrayed recently on BBC Look North.
Market Rasen High Street still has plenty of room for improvement, we still have a couple of empty premises and it is still very tough out there for retailers and small businesses, but we are not seeing the decline that many High Streets have suffered. In fact our High Street looks and feels so much better than it did twelve months ago.
The challenge to WLDC, The Town Council, Mr Big and local businesses is to make further improvements and enhancements to try to keep more local shoppers in town and attract more spending visitors and businesses to Market Rasen, to further enhance the retail and service experience and ultimately to make the High Street sustainable for the long term future.