Tag Archives: Market Rasen

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.

Poster-A3

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.

MR BIG ASKS… Stuart J. Green

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.

MR BIG Update and Chance to Join the Board

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

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/susan-marot-finstsmm/8/a43/aa7

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 mrbigtowncentremanager@hotmail.com .

Applications for the roles will be taken following the session.

Traders' Liaison 31 July 13
Financial Summary 31 July Presentation

Market Rasen Town Tidy Up – Well Done!

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.P1020137 P1020135 P1020134 P1020133

THE BIG GIG comes to Market Rasen Sat 13th July!

OBG logoOUR BIG GIG! An amazing upcoming event! A must visit!

On Saturday 13th July, Market Rasen Town Council will be hosting OUR BIG GIG. It’s bound to create a great buzz and atmosphere within the town centre and, like its name, it’s going to be BIG! The gig itself will provide great entertainment for people of all ages with a passion for music and dancing, and some opportunities to take part too.

The day’s events start from 10am and run right through until midnight. Each of the events will be held in different places: the Festival Hall, the Committee Room, St Thomas’s, the Market Place, The Chase, the Methodist Chapel, and the Salvation Army Citadel.

The main focus of these fantastic events is to encourage people from within the local area to come along and participate in some of the many great musical workshops which will be taking place. It’ll be a fab way to get involved in making and writing some beautiful music!

As well as the workshops there will also be some amazing musical acts to see, with the likes of Jay Tyrer, Jimmy Needes, Wizards Sleeve and many more. We’ll also be expecting to see some fantastic performances from the Sequence Dancing Group and St Thomas’s Bell Ringers. And throughout the day in the Market Place there will be buskers and a street organ to serenade the crowds.

It is definitely going to be a great day and evening so come along and TAKE PART!

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