Tag Archives: Portas Pilot Scheme

Shop with Market Rasen’s High Street Indies for a chance to win £1000 Holiday & £400 runners-up prizes!

Mr Big and Lincolnshire Co-op launched My Market Rasen this week with the chance for loyal high street shoppers to WIN £1000 holiday voucher plus £400 in runners-up prizes.

Marc Butler, Lincs Co-op Market Rasen Travel Manager, Helen Martin, Community Liaison Representative, Lincolnshire Co-op Market Rasen, Sadie Richardson, Mr Big Apprentice.

Marc Butler, Lincs Co-op Market Rasen Travel Manager, Helen Martin, Community Liaison Representative, Lincolnshire Co-op Market Rasen and Sadie Richardson, Mr Big Apprentice at the launch of My Market Rasen Christmas.

A BIG ‘buy local’ campaign kicked off this Tuesday outside Lincolnshire Co-operative’s Travel Shop in Market Rasen. A loyalty card scheme is being piloted to encourage residents to shop with Market Rasen independents on the high street in the run up to Christmas.10 of Market Rasen’s high st indies have donated a prize of a minimum value of £50 each. Participating independent high street retailers will give customers a sticker for their card when they spend at least £5 in one transaction up until 23rd December.

Lincolnshire Co-op Food Store in Market Rasen is kindly giving out loyalty cards but the stickers are to collected along the high street independents (as well as the Lincolnshire Market Rasen Travel Shop) as the cost of creating enough stickers for the Co-op to take part would be unsupportable and not in keeping with the scheme’s very strong ethos about supporting the high street itself.

My Market Rasen Loyalty Card

Grab your My Market Rasen loyalty card along the High Street, in the Co-op or look out for it coming through your door!

In addition 4000 cards are being distributed door to door across LN8, with a further 1000 in the retailers’ shops themselves, so the potential to attract new customers into Market Rasen and encourage more spending from existing customers is strong.

Shops taking part who have donated runners-up prizes are:

Little Milberry – £50 voucher
Market Rasen Pet Centre – 5 x £10 vouchers
Greens Of Lincolnshire – 10 x £15 veg boxes for just £10 each
Rumpelstiltskin Kitchen and Furniture Shop – £50 voucher
Market Rasen Hardware Store – Large Log Basket
The Pink Pod – £50 voucher
Forget Me Not Florist – 2 x £25 voucher
Blue River Jewellery – 5 x £10 voucher
Isn’t She Lovely – 5 x £10 voucher
Lancasters (15 & 47 Queen St) – 1 x £25 voucher for each shop

The generosity of high street retailers is matched with a HUGE 1st prize to be drawn on Christmas Eve outside Lincolnshire Co-operative Travel Shop in Market Rasen, giving one lucky shopper the ultimate Christmas gift of £1000 holiday from Lincolnshire Co-op who have donated £500 matched by Mr Big.

The runners-up prizes will be drawn by each of the retailers in their high street stores on Christmas Eve morning, creating a real buzz of excitement along the high street at this magical time.

Mr Big Director Sarah Lamballe told us, “We were thrilled that Ursula Lidbetter, now Chairman of the Co-operative Group, warmly received the idea we put to Wayne Dennet and has given us her full support by backing the idea with very generous sponsorship which shows how important it is to recognise the value of ‘local shopping’ at the heart of any community.”

Look out for this sign for participating High Street retailers.

Look out for the ‘My Market Rasen’ sign for participating Indie High Street retailers.

Sarah added “This is just the beginning of MY MARKET RASEN which we hope to develop in 2014
with all our retailers and service providers coming on board to excite residents and visitors with unique special offers”.

Mr Big would like to thank Lincolnshire Co-operative with special mentions to Ursula Lidbetter, Wayne Dennett, Chris Cocking and Amanda Chesson for their huge positivity and support.

We’d also like to thank Leesa of Little Milberry, Bridget of Market Rasen Pet Centre, Maria of Greens of Lincolnshire, Colin of Rumplestiltskin, Ken and Sue of Market Rasen Hardware, Anna of The Pink Pod, Richard and Gill of Forget Me Not Florist, Wendy of Blue River Jewellery, Maria of Isn’t She Lovely and Richard of Lancasters for being early adopters of ‘My Market Rasen’ and we’d love to hear from any of our other high street retailers who would like to join in future ideas for 2014.

These terms and conditions govern your participation in the My Market Rasen Christmas Loyalty Card Scheme.

By taking part in the My Market Rasen loyalty scheme you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions. My Market Rasen may refuse an application for any good reason. If you wish to do so, please print and retain a copy of these Terms for your reference.

1. Subject to these Terms, a completed My Market Rasen Loyalty Card entitles the bearer (you) entry into the prize draw.

2. To claim a sticker you must show your Loyalty Card: at the till point of the participating shop when making a purchase of £5 or more with a maximum of 2 stickers per transaction.

3. The closing date for the prize draw is 5pm on the 23rd of December, any cards submitted after this point will not be entered into the prize draw.

4. There will be one winner who will win a £1,000 holiday voucher. There will be …. Winners who will win the runners up prizes which are listed on the My Market Rasen Loyalty Card.

5. Prizes will be awarded to entries picked at random by an independent person on the 24th December at 10am, the 23rd of December is the last day in which completed cards can be handed in to participating retailers.

6. Each winner will be contacted by telephone within 21 days of, and receive their prize by going into the participating retailer no later than 28 days after, the Prize Draw Date.

7. If a winner for a Draw Period cannot be contacted using reasonable efforts within 21 days from the Prize Draw Date for that Draw Period, then an alternative winner will be drawn from the entries.

8. The prizes must be accepted as offered. There is no cash alternative. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group reserves the right to award an alternative prize of equal or greater value, should the advertised prize or any part of it become unavailable.

9. The result of the prize draws is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

10. The name will be available on request to all entrants in the prize draws by sending a stamp addressed envelope to Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, 27 Newton House, Market Place, Market Rasen, LN8 3HL and may be posted online.

11. Each winner may be required to participate in reasonable press or PR activity related to the prize draw as notified by us.

12. All entrants to the prize draw will be deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions.

13. No responsibility is accepted for entries, which fail to be properly submitted for any technical reason whatsoever. Entries submitted by any other means will be rejected.

14. The My Market Rasen Loyalty Card has no cash redemption value.

15. The list of participating shops is published on the Market Rasen Guide website. My Market Rasen reserves the right to amend the list of participating shops at any time and will give notice of changes via www.marketrasenguide.co.uk.

16. The My Market Rasen Loyalty Card remains the property of Market Rasen Business Improvement Group at all times. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group reserves the right at any time to:
a. alter these Terms
b. withdraw the Loyalty Scheme and/or an individual’s My Market Rasen Loyalty Card.

17. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group may take any action it considers appropriate, including withdrawing an individual’s My Market Rasen Loyalty Card, if it has reason to believe that an individual is abusing the Scheme or is in breach of these Terms.

18. Each participating shop reserves the right to withdraw from the Scheme at any time.

19. My Market Rasen Loyalty Card is not responsible, and shall not be held liable, for products and services offered and sold by participating shops. Products and services are offered according to that shop’s own terms and conditions.

20. Stickers are only available for purchases made in the outlet of participating shops and are not available via their respective websites.

21. A copy of these Terms can be found at www.marketrasenguide.co.uk. In some cases, individual participating shops may have their own additional terms & conditions in relation to the Scheme, which also form part of these Terms.

22. By handing in your full loyalty card consent Market Rasen Business Improvement Group contacting you, including via email, to tell you about other events, promotions and activities in the Market Rasen area. You may opt out of receiving such communications at any time.

23. Market Rasen Business Improvement Group will not pass on your personal information to third parties, except as may be required for the purposes of administering the Scheme.

24. The My Market Rasen Loyalty Card is promoted by Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, company number 08171841. Registered address Newland House, The Point, Weaver Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QN.

25. If you wish to contact Market Rasen Business Improvement Group for any reason please email mrbigapprentice@gmail.com. If a My Market Rasen Loyalty Card is found it should be returned to 27 Newton House, Market Rasen, LN8 3HL.

26. These Terms are governed by the laws of England and Wales.

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.


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.


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.

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.

High Street Heroes 1: Alan Thompson, Pharmacist and Manager of Boots

During this series we will be meeting some of the people who are really helping to make Market Rasen great. These are our High Street Heroes: those people who work along the high street doing their level best to promote and support the effort to regenerate our town.

Our first hero is Alan Thompson. Alan has been working at Boots on Market Rasen High Street for the past 6 years. We popped in to join him in presenting an award to Hazel Barnard for her winning entry in MR BIG’s “Most Interesting Picture in Market Rasen” Competition and we managed to catch up with Alan afterwards to ask him a few questions.

Now we all know the town population has expanded rapidly since Alan came to Market Rasen in 2007 and has been rising for some time. There’s nowhere that feels the pressure of coping with these changes quite like a pharmacy, so we asked him how the Market Rasen Boots has managed to maintain such an excellent standard of service. “Boots is very keen on customer service. We’re very aware of our responsibility of being trusted with people’s health care. We carry out our own customer surveys at all stores. Now, of course we don’t always get it right but we can compare results and share examples daily.”

With Alan in charge, the Market Rasen Boots store has also done a number of things to support MR BIG. The prize camera donated as part of the sponsorship for Plank 2013, Market Rasen’s Art Council England funded Arts & Craft Festival in February, is just one example of the ways in which Alan is helping to make a difference. He explained to us that Boots as a company is eager to support the scheme to improve the high street, as well as backing Mary Portas in her mission. “We will always try to help wherever we’re asked. It may be small things, for instance gifts for the Christmas market or advice and expertise, but we are always happy to help in some way.”

We asked Alan for his thoughts on MR BIG and how it has helped the town centre. “I can really see the difference. Honestly, I know some people have made negative remarks but it certainly has made a big difference to the high street and to this very store, in fact. It’s sometimes things people don’t necessarily see, but we’ve had our garden cleared and the store generally cleaned up. We can see that the building over the road has been decorated as well and that’s all really down to MR BIG. The building over the road Mary Portas even mentioned herself on her visit and you can see the difference made since then”

Finally, we asked Alan for his thoughts on the future of the Market Rasen high street. “I think we will make progress. The high street isn’t going to be what it was but it’s so important to support independent traders and to create opportunities for it to become something new. I like the idea of making it more of a social area and I know there are some plans for that. I hope we can make the whole place more interesting for younger people as well.”

With High Street Heroes like Alan and all the help he gives, we think the future looks very promising indeed. But what do you think of the future of our high street? And who are your high street heroes? Let us know by commenting below or telling us on our Visit Market Rasen facebook page.

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

Market Rasen Portas Pilot packed with NEW businesses that the BBC fails to mention

On 29 May Mr Big was contacted by BBC Look North at 11.30am to field a representative to comment on that day’s national statistics around the Pilot. We did this within in the hour, with one of our volunteer directors spending a substantial amount of time with their team giving detail on why we believe the statistics are a mis-representation of the situation in our town.

However it appears we have been swept into a broader agenda as the prime-time show, which often reaches an audience of 500,000 people in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, painted a negative view that simply isn’t true in fact.

After a whole year of hard work and with some amazing achievements under our belts, we would hope that our local media representation would take a more responsible position. Sadly that hasn’t happened so we have to tell our own story.

According to the Guardian’s 29 May article “Market Rasen was the worst performer in terms of shops, with a 3.2 percentage point rise in empty stores between March 2012 and the same month this year, according to information collated by research firm The Local Data Company for the BBC Radio 4 programme You & Yours.”

So putting aside the fact that the Portas Pilot only began at the end of May 2012. Let’s look at the detail.


The ‘closures’ are those stated in Local Data Company Portas 12 BBC You and Yours spread sheet.  (It contains each of the 12 Portas Pilot towns so if any of the other Pilots or their local media would like a copy please get in touch).


Millcraft Bathrooms is not a closure, just a relocation – all under one roof.

Millcraft Bathrooms – not really a closure, in fact a smart recession-beating move to deal with the High Street overheads, Millcraft moved their bathroom showroom into the same premises as their Kitchen shop further up Queen Street. Their old premises was refurbished and opened on 1 May 2012 as Quintessential Beauty, a NEW beauty parlour opened during Market Rasen’s Portas Pilot first year.

NEW_Quintessential_Beauty_opened_May 2012

New Quintessential Beauty that filled the premises vacated by Millcraft Bathroom’s relocation but NOT mentioned in BBC figures.

Arena Café is closed as a café but it is being used for training and workshops by C G Partnership and has hosted several pop up events during the Portas Pilot first year including markets, art exhibitions and crafting workshops. After this valuable research, it will reopen soon as a NEW Learning & Arts Café.

Age Concern UK replaces Oxfam on Market Rasen's High St

Age Concern UK replaced Oxfam on the High St within weeks of its closure

Oxfam sadly did leave Market Rasen, but within weeks this main High Street retail unit has been refurbished and reopened by Age Concern UK. The original Age Concern unit on Union Street is due to open soon as a NEW Crafting Supplies shop selling wool etc to the talented artistic community that we’ve seen emerge during Market Rasen’s Arts Council England funded Arts & Crafts Festival 2013.

Wild One Tours Market Rasen

Wild One Tours replaced China Choice on the High Street on 1 March 2012 so why is China Choice in the figures as a closure?

China Choice – was never open during the Portas Pilot. The refurbished Queen Street premises is now home to Wild One Tours, a fantastic motor cycling accessories retailer, serving our big biking community with branded leathers, helmets, boots and planning tours. Mike Coleman owner of Wild One Tours told us he opened in March 2012. He is in Local Data Company’s statistic as an opening yet China Choice the business he replaced is as a closure. Same shop, same premises so a bit misleading?


Primal Art Tattoo studio’s new larger premises replaced Urban Dollz. The old shop is shown in the same photo.

Urban Dollz was an end of line discounted fashion retail that was replaced by Primal Art Tattoo Studio moving two doors down to a larger premises. Likewise the Tattoo Parlour appears on the stats as both closure and opening. We would class that as a relocation. The original smaller premises is vacant and in need of refurbishment.


Is a dentist’s a shop? Whether it is or it isn’t we still have 2 on our High Street despite the data saying we’ve had 2 closures and no new dentists opening. And that’s on the high street alone. We have a great NHS dentist that is expanding into some of our Town Council offices.

There are 2 dentists on the BBC You and Yours spreadsheet – J Jacobs and Advanced Dental. Whether or not you wish to class these as ‘stores’ is debatable. As they feature in the stats that are being used against us, let’s include them. We have been told that Jacobs is still in business as Wolds Dental Studio and we’re happy to report a NEW High Street dental practice called You Smile. Sadly not mentioned in the data but sure to be bringing useful additional footfall to people popping into Market Rasen for a check up and taking advantage of any of Market Rasen’s 6+ FREE car parks.



Where Little Orchard and many other businesses have tried and failed. Always a tricky retail space to fill. Tucked behind a side shopping street, up for sale, but near a FREE car park. Have you got any good ideas? We’d love to hear them.

Little Orchard is sited as a closure but most of the people we spoke to couldn’t remember it being open at the beginning of the Pilot year. It was based in a tricky ‘retail space’ tucked on the back of the community hub. During the last year this challenging premises has opened and closed as a fruit and veg shop, ex-catalogue stock shop and pet supplies. (None of these feature on the statistics as openings.) The building is for sale with planning permission for houses on the car park outside so remains vacant. If anyone is interested, it would suit a retailer selling large commodity goods that need easy access to customer vehicles. It’s NOT a location that would attract browsing footfall.

Town Team inside Little Miberry's

Mr Big Apprentice and Town Centre Manager take a peek inside LIttle Milberry’s which replaced Sofia’s Boutique after the Georgian shop was renovated.

Sofia’s Boutique was a dress shop that sadly closed but since then, the stunning Georgian building has been renovated top to bottom, including the two stories above. Now home to a new childrenswear retailer Little Milberry’s which features as an opening in the BBC’s figures.



Steve Hine owner of Indulgence very much open for business as usual in his new location near the Lincolnshire Coop Car Park on Market Place Walk

Indulgence is a lovely little shop selling fragranced gifts, oil lamps, hand poured candles, bath and beauty products plus bags, scarves etc. Steve and Carol, who run the shop, love Market Rasen so much that they have moved 3 times in order to find the right premises to maximise its potential. They were kind enough to sell I LOVE MKT RSN merchandise online for us. So Steve was naturally concerned to be sited as a closure and only one opening! He left 31 Queen St on 1 May 2011 to move into 10a Queen St on 20 March 2012. Steve then opened in Market Place Walk on 2 April 2013 and is settling in nicely to his new location. Indulgence was very much open for business this weekend taking advantage of proximity to the Market Place by giving visitors to the Lions’ Annual Gardeners’ Fayre flyers.

Indulgence replaced Varlows at 10a Queen Street and Footprints on Market Place Walk, neither of which feature in the figures at all. Although Peter Scott shoe shop is mentioned as a closure (it was the previous incarnation of Footprints and definitely NOT open during the Pilot). 10a Queen Street is a lovely large retail space and has been very close to signing a number of fashion retailers as it has a great upstairs space too. Let’s hope the recent Market Rasen bashing hasn’t put them off.

The Rasen Farm Shop was a fruit and veg shop originally located at 6a Queen Street but forced to relocate to 14 Queen Street when the roof fell in.  Sadly Kelly decided to come out of retail altogether and so Mr Big, using Portas Pilot funds, decided to fill a pivotal gap on the High Street with a fruit and veg shop that would mean people could buy meal solutions from our great local butchers Lancasters and fish from the market without having to resort to shopping in the supermarkets.

Rasen Farm Shop BEFORE

The original fruit and veg shop that sadly closed on our High Street. Photographed here when Jayne Cartwright came to help advise on the new shop fit for Greens.

Plus it was the perfect opportunity to give the artisan producers (who have helped make Market Rasen Britain’s Best Small Speciality Market of the Year 2013) a route to retail as we pledged in our original Portas Pilot bid. Thanks to lots of hard graft by so many people, including great shop fit advice from Jayne Cartwright, the charity retail guru, NEW Greens of Lincolnshire opened in December 2012 at 14 Queen Street.

Mary visits Greens of Lincolnshire Market Rasen Feb 2013

Mary’s visit to Market Rasen in February 2013 included a volunteer inspiring visit to Greens of Lincolnshire. Odd that the shop isn’t on the figures as an opening?

The shop makes its own exciting journey into private ownership from 1 June 2013 to Maria Pemberton who started her West Wold Deli on our very first Pop Up Market on 14 May 2012. Maria has moved from market to retail in 12 months of the Portas Pilot, supported by Mr Big and the people of Market Rasen. She is to retain employees and has even created a new paid role for a fantastic volunteer who enters paid employment for the very first time.


Meet the team. L – R. Pam retained manager, Brett volunteer who began his first paid employment on 1 June 2013 and Maria Pemberton the new owner of Greens of Lincolnshire having progressed from her first retail outing on our Pop Up Market in May 2012 to retail shop owner, supported by Mr Big and fantastic loyal customers and artisan suppliers.

Despite featuring ‘as best practice’ in Mary Portas’ inspiring visit to Market Rasen in February 2012, and scoring 9/10 in Mary’s Telegraph column, Greens of Lincolnshire does not feature as an opening in the Local Company Data/BBC You and Yours stats at all. What a kick in the teeth for us to see the display we created and painted as volunteers being used as a backdrop for inaccurate graphics about Market Rasen’s empties. Gutted is an understatement.

P.G’s Nuts on Union Street sadly closed during the pilot. It subsequently reopened as a charity shop claiming to raise funds for Friends of St Andrew’s Hospice (despite being open for just a matter of weeks it features on the BBC spreadsheet).  Once the charity denied any official involvement it folded fairly quickly to be replaced by Odds’an’Sods, selling value toys for Christmas.


Was P.G’s Nuts then ‘charity’ shop, then Odds an Sods a toy retailer opening pre-Christmas. This one premises shows as a closure but only records 1 of the 2 openings during this period. Why?

We’ve had an email this week from a lady who has a womenswear shop in Brigg, “I have in fact found a suitable property in Market Rasen, its the one on Union Street, its used to be the old Nuts shop I believe.” She thinks this is the perfect space for her to open a second shop. Let’s hope so!


Blue River Jewellery SHop window

Blue River Jewellery relocated from one end of Queen Street to the other in June 2011

Blue River Jewellery (another double entry as closure and opening) is another lovely little indie shop where you can buy jewellery making supplies as well as beautiful rings, bracelets, necklaces etc and have repairs carried out by Wendy herself, who in fact relocated from 21 Queen Street to 6a Queen Street following its complete refurbishment.

Jacques Home Hardware

Thanks to the Market Rasen Mail for this photo showing the Jacques family getting ready the weekend before their rebranding in September.

Priceless Home Hardware appears as a closure and Jacques Home Hardware as an opening. The address is the same. So yes, it’s a rebrand. Rob Jacques launched the rebranding of his long established and successful independent hardware business over a fun weekend on 7/8 September 2012. He is also the owner of a small shop unit that housed ‘Curtain Creations’ on George Street. This doesn’t feature on the stats but talking to Rob over the weekend, it is available to rent and would make a fantastic start up retail unit at a very affordable price as it’s not on the main High Street.

Wrap and Roll Sandwich Bar didn’t manage to compete with one of Lincolnshire’s most established bakeries Starbucks and another relative newcomer Cooplands. Happily though the premises has been fully refurbished by NEW Lovelle Estate Agency – now the forth estate agency in Market Rasen. Not bad for a small rural market town that’s on its uppers, eh?

Lovelle Estate Agency 4th Estate Agent in Market Rasen

Business can’t be that bad for a rural market town that can accommodate 4 Estate Agents. Lovelle’s opened in September 2011 but yet again they don’t get a mention in Local Data Company stats.

Likewise the final ‘closure’ on the list is First Choice Travel Shop, based in great High Street premises opposite the Market Place owned by the Lincolnshire Cooperative. Nationally First Choice folded but the premises was quickly replaced by Bowens Travel. Sadly the same thing happened and the group went bust also during the Pilot, but not mentioned in the figures. Happily for Market Rasen, in March this year, following a brief stint as a Pop up Art Gallery during our Arts Council England funded Arts & Crafts festival, this shop reopened it as a NEW Lincolnshire Co-operative Travel shop bringing fresh faces on to the High Street for services.

Lincs Coop Travel Shop

Thanks to Market Rasen Mail for this great picture showing the benefits of an organisation like the Lincolnshire Coop opening its Travel Shop, creating 4 jobs and supporting young people in our community.


So in addition to the ‘openings’ which were in reality relocations and rebranding not covered above, let’s say hello to Market Rasen’s new indie retailers the BBC and Local Data Company failed to mention:


New equestrian shop opened in October 2012 but sadly not reflected on the figures the BBC are using to rubbish the hard work of the people in the Portas Pilot towns.

NEW Bay Trading opened 29 October 2012 in the old Blue River shop at 21 Queen Street, we welcome a second retail outlet from Louth based Bay Team Products filling that gap on our High Street for equestrian products, much needed in our rural economy.


Isn’t it great when a new retailer spots a niche that will suit the community? Equestrian products on the high street in a horse racing town. What could be better?

NEW Quintessential Beauty opened 1 May 2012 in the old Millcraft Bathrooms that relocated to kitchens.(Pictured above under facts on the space it replaced). Quintessential joins other hair and beauty retailers Touches Tanning, Style Studio, Total Beauty and Spring Beauty all trying new and innovative ways to attract and serve their clientele from a catchment area of 33,000 people.

NEW Bathroom Desires opened 1 March 2013 in the long term vacant Taal Indian restaurant – a key entrance to the town.  Perfectly located near Peter Rhodes Electrical and Rhodes Fitted Kitchen, to provide a mini department store for homeowners looking to refurbish their properties. Ian Mcready has a lifetime’s experience in sourcing beautiful bathrooms ‘without the expensive flannel’.


Bathroom Desires owner Ian saw BBC Look North film outside his shop last week and recorded the teatime show in the hope of spotting his shop, especially as it replaced a derelict eyesore featured in the original Portas Pilot bid video. Sadly no TV clip or mention in the Local Data Company / BBC You and Yours figures for Bathroom Desires, despite opening in Market Rasen on 1 March 2013.

NEW Lovelle Estate Agency opened 29 September 2012 to become the forth estate agent in town joining established agents Perkins George Mawer, Walters and John Taylors. With 66 new homes being built by Chestnut Homes within walking distance of the High Street there are clearly plenty of people who believe Market Rasen is worth investment. A quick call to Chestnut Homes revealed that within a day of Hunter’s Place in Market Rasen being on the website they had received 30 enquiries.

hunters place market rasen

2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes and 2 bed apartments being built within walking distance of the High Street. 30 enquiries received on the first day. Isn’t it great to know people want to live at this fabulous gateway to the Lincolnshire Wolds and contribute to the success of our community?

NEW Tradelight a trade lighting company who purchased the old Travis Perkins site on Oxford Street when they relocated and refurbished and old tractor sales depot on Walesby Road.

NEW Big Corner Shop opened by Mr Big in the Grade II listed Old Halifax building which has stood derelict until it was bought and renovated by Lindum Construction. The adjacent side to the shop is taken by Bridge McFarland Solicitors  (if we’re counting dentists as shops then surely professional services count too). The Big Corner Shop opened on a Pilot model selling wares from fledgling retailers on a 3 month trial to cover costs. It provides a route to market for 30+ retailers and is now changing to a model where 2 of the 3 rooms are dedicated paid retailer space with the 3rd providing volunteer run selling space for a fee + commission. Above the shop are 4 offices, housing a variety of professional services business employing staff and housing the Mr Big Town Centre Manager and Apprentice.

When Mary met the Big Corner Shop team

BBC Look North interviewed Sarah Lamballe in the Big Corner Shop, shown here when Mary met the team but failed to mention its broader achievements. Mary praised the Big Corner shop, home to 30+ fledgling retailers, opened with Portas Pilot funds. Another NEW business that opened just after Christmas in Market Rasen but not reflected in the statistics that say we’ve ‘failed’. Why?



Sweet Beginnings opens in June in Market Rasen

Opening any day now, Sharon from Sweet Beginnings gets ready to fill a long term vacant with a contemporary photography studio for mums to be and under 5s.

Sweet Beginnings Photography opening imminently at 31 Queen Street brings a contemporary family photography studio onto the High Street. Having met Sharon and Paul on Saturday as they put the finishing touches to a refurbished interior, they had already started networking with other Market Rasen businesses on cross selling opportunities. Just the sort of dynamic approach we need.

haron_Paul_ Sweet_Beginnings_in_Market_rasen

Photographer Sharon, shown here with husband Paul on Saturday, got busy and popped along the High Street, to introduce herself to other traders and hand out flyers during the Lions’ Gardeners’ Fayre and Spring Market. Good work!

Craft Supplies shop will fill the space left by Age Concern moving up space left by Oxfam.

Craft Shop coming soon

Soon to be a Craft Supplies – perfect for all the talented artists and crafters we met here during Market Rasen’s Arts & Craft Festival in Feb-Mar 2013 funded by the Arts Council as we were a Portas Pilot.


King Street was left vacant by Lincolnshire County Council relocating Social Services out of town. This lovely old building has been bought by Lindum Construction, refurbished as offices and is now home to 4 professional services businesses adding to the lunch time and after work economy.

13 - TAKEN - Now Nicholson's Accountants and Lindum Group

13 – TAKEN – Now Nicholson’s Accountants and Lindum Group plus other professional services businesses.


There are currently 4 vacant main High Street premises due to the very recent closure of Scoops and the relocation of Indulgence and The Ironing Board to more affordable premises, in addition to the old Tattoo Studio.


The closure of Scoops sees our main High Street vacants rise to 4. This could be a great location, next to the pedestrian crossing and on the same side as busy local businesses like Market Rasen Pet Centre, Forget Me Not Florists and Greens of Lincolnshire. What creative ideas do you have for it? We’d love to hear them.

We attempt to keep a record of our empties on this blog and will update this as often as we can to fill gaps that are not just about High Street retail but about any business or organisation that wants to set up in a Market Rasen postcode. You will be assured of a warm welcome and as much support as the town can give you. We’d love to see the Square Bar, owned by Lincolnshire Coop on the Market Place filled with something truly innovative and engaging for the community. Any ideas?

Square Bar on the Market Place. What could it be?

Square Bar on the Market Place. What could it be?

The challenges continue to be huge especially when already stretched volunteer directors are now having to deal with fall out from supporters and volunteers who can’t understand why we would be would be involved in reporting that has done our town down.

Our personal learnings from a year of hard slog on the High Street has been that halting decline and promoting growth may appear to be about retail premises and footfall on the surface.  But the reality is that in order to create an environment for growth, you have to create confidence.  That is our task here at MR BIG and the irresponsible reporting last week in the press, local TV, national radio and online media has undoubtedly been a set back we could well do without.

If you are someone who has contributed to this particular round of Portas bashing, think about how damaging it is and how it creates hard work for over stretched town teams. Ask yourself what you are doing to help. What are you spending on your local High Street each week?

If anyone in the media (thanks Market Rasen Mail for being the first to get in touch) is interested in reporting the facts and meeting some of the NEW businesses here in Market Rasen that didn’t make it on Local Data Company’s figures, then please contact us to discover why they believe that our lovely Lincolnshire market town is worth their investment.

Whilst other Pilot towns have struggled with red-tape, we have forged ahead to make positive change. So much so that our good work has been recognised with an award in the last month that sees us as one of only 7 High Street recognised for innovation.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so if all you want to do is knock this town and its hard working people, we’d kindly ask you to stay away. Market Rasen is going places with or without your help.

The source of Market Rasen Guide’s up to the minute data is walking up and down the high street, talking to shop owners between 29 May and 4 June. Time we’d really rather have spent on delivering our 4 big ideas, preparing for Indie Retail Month in July and working on High Street X-Fund projects.

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