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.
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.
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.
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.
Stuart is the man behind one of the latest businesses to hit the Market Rasen high street, SJG Digital. He has also signed up as one of the brand new directors of MR BIG and we were keen to catch up with him.
First of all we asked him about the company, SJG Digital. He said, “we can do anything to do with IT, mobile technology and so forth. We’re specialists with small businesses but we do have much bigger customers as well and we do different things for different people. Quite often we fit in well where businesses haven’t got an IT department or a service of their own. We come in and help people manage information and secure their data. And if there’s one thing most people have these days, it’s lots of data.”
Stuart added that he has customers all over the UK and we asked him how long the business has been running. “I started it in 1997 but I was still in the air force. I left the air force last year and that’s when I really started to expand, which is how I came to be here in Market Rasen.”
Now that he has moved in, we asked what encouraged Stuart to join MR BIG. “The town improvement scheme is basically perfect. One of the main ideas of the scheme is that absolutely everybody who’s part of it has something to offer to help businesses grow and be successful. That’s what SJG Digital is all about. We help businesses to succeed.”
Stuart’s showroom is now open on the corner of Market Place, in the same unit previously occupied by the Big Corner Shop which has moved to The Hub on Union Street. From this location, SJG Digital is indeed offering something particularly special for the town: Wifi in the market square. “The Wifi, yes. At the moment it’s just available for the market traders in the market square. They can pop in and get a free five hour voucher any time because we’re really at the testing stage right now. But we’re looking to open up the voucher based system so that users can buy a day, a week or a month’s worth of Wifi use in the square. There’ll be slightly different schemes for the traders and the public and before long we’ll hopefully be able to roll it out for the whole of Queen Street.”
We asked how this exciting development has come about. “There’s a company called Linpop who have a Wifi mast in the Rasen area. Their aim is to deliver fibre optic broadband to rural areas and we’ve essentially teamed up to try and achieve that here.”
So what about the man himself? For a little extra insight we started by asking Stuart what book he’s reading at the moment. “What book am I reading? Well at the moment I’m getting stuck into The Jungle Is Neutral (by Freddie Spencer Chapman) which is a factual story of survival in the jungles of occupied Malaysia during WWII. The guy worked on the principal that nature doesn’t take sides, which is how he coped with the conditions. I used to be a survival instructor in the air force, you see, so I do take a special interest in such stories.”
Finally, we asked who Stuart would like to be for just one day, if he could. “Oh, Steve Jobs. Definitely.”
So, with that, we’d like to know what you think. Are you looking forward to the availability of Wifi in the market place and possibly even the whole high street? What do you think the impact on the town and its fortunes is likely to be? Let us know by commenting here or on our facebook page or twitter feed.
Market Rasen’s BIG Magical Market for May is only a couple of days away! So to get you in the magical mood we’re having a Pop Up Cinema experience on the high street, on Friday 3rd May at 4pm, we’ll be screening Tangled FREE for children at 10a Queen Street (previously Indulgence) with a few tuck shop treats to buy – well, it just wouldn’t be the same without popcorn!
The Magical Market itself will kick off around 9am in the Market Place and Festival Hall – we’ve got some new banners and arrows to direct visitors along to Festival Hall so they really sample all the delights Market Rasen has to offer.
Each of the 35+ stalls on the market place will have a poster promoting Festival Hall too, we’d love any of our lovely high street independents to run special market day offers too (please tell us what they are on our Facebook page so we can share them for you with all our followers on Twitter too) and if you have any flyers or leaflets please pop them along to the Big Corner Shop so we can share there too. As you can see we’re trying super hard to encourage footfall all around town, with new banners for the auction shed, we want to attract visitors to take advantage of Market Rasen’s free parking.
We’re delighted to add FREE face painting for children to the fun filled drop in circus skills workshops on the Market Place, laid on for us by the talented team at Party Workshops once again, so kids can try their hands at juggling, unicycling and lots more. Most exciting of all is thanks to lovely Louise from Market Rasen’s iconic Queen St sweet shop, Garnett’s, we’ll have the first ice cream van of the season. So that means spring is officially launched at Market Rasen’s Magical May Market with delicious Lincolnshire ice cream from Dennett’s available from around 11am – so there’s plenty of time to have a bacon butty in Ffeisty’s Festival Hall Happy Cafe first, then pop back for a Hog Roast lunch!
Last month’s Grand National market was a great success and we’re hoping that the sun will shine on the magical delights we have in store for you in May, including a fancy dress competition open to all shop keepers, stall holders and children!
Delicious eats and treats abound with local favourites Propa Pies, Parvins, Jenny’s Jams, Goatwood Dairy Cheese, Green Dog Deli, Love from Italy, Scrubby’s Crisps, Lymn Bank Cheese, West Wold Deli, Greenfield Bakery and many many more so remember to bring your I Love Market Rasen shopping bags to fill them up with scrumptious local fayre to enjoy all bank holiday weekend.