18 Apr Beer Central – Trader Top 30
49 year old Sean Clarke and his partner Deborah have been trading on the Moor Market in Sheffield for three years with their concept Beer Central an independent micro business, selling an outstanding range of craft beers, real ales, and ciders.
In the first of our Trader Top 30 interviews, we asked Sean…
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I bought & sold a few shares when I was a late teenager (that paid for a ski holiday to Italy) and I’ve always liked a challenge, but haven’t fully used my entrepreneurial skills until later in life. I started young working for a travel company, eventually became General Manager and then moved onto teaching for 15 years. I taught travel and tourism with a particular emphasis on business and then finally, in 2013, set up our own business!
Beer Central was born.
Tell us a bit about your business and how you got into it.
We sell beer, local traditional ales and the very latest craft beers from the UK and around the world. Back in 2013 I was bemoaning the lack of decent beer shops in and around Sheffield and after a bit more moaning decided to get on with it and do it ourselves! We found a lovely home for our business in The Moor Market and things have progressed rapidly and very successfully. We sell to lots of thirsty customers in our little shop and send beer out via mail order across the UK.
What have been the high points in working for yourself?
The freedom to get on and do what you want to do is exhilarating and I’ve loved taking responsibility for what we do. Most things have gone fantastically well, other things have bombed, but throughout we’ve made decisions for the right reasons and its great when things come off, gives you a great deal of confidence. We’ve also built up a small team of expert staff and we’re very proud of that. My sister, nephews and father-in-law also work for us and it’s been brilliant to do it all with them on a day-to-day basis.
And what have been the lows?
Not many! Perhaps it can be difficult to switch off sometimes, there’s no work and home-life split anymore, life just meanders on and as we’re very busy on social media, it can be difficult to resist picking up the phone, grabbing the tablet or powering up the computer sometimes!
Do you sell anywhere other than on your market stall?
In addition to selling in The Moor Market we also send beers out via mail order from our warehouse (also in the market) and we occasionally attend craft fairs, charity events and run tasting events too. We also visit lots of beer festivals, but normally that means us drinking rather than selling! haha
What marketing methods to you use to promote your business?
We use Facebook & Twitter almost constantly, and we’re building our presence on Instagram too. We get plenty of business from ‘word of mouth’ and make sure we advertise in local music listing and style magazines as well as taking up sponsorship opportunities at beer festivals and other suitable events. We’ve appeared on BBC Radio Sheffield and generally get involved in anything that promotes the city of Sheffield & The Moor Market. We’ve also delivered a presentation at the 2016 NABMA Conference and will be delivering a trader presentation at the 2017 NMTF Annual Conference.
“It’s hard graft sometimes, but the benefits can be fantastic and the chance to become your own boss should not be overlooked.”
What’s the biggest tip you would give to someone who is thinking of trying their hand at market trading?
I’d just encourage people to be confident and commit everything they’ve got to making it work. It’s hard graft sometimes, but the benefits can be fantastic and the chance to become your own boss should not be overlooked. Be confident in yourself, in your product & in your team…….. if you’re not confident, then something is wrong, sort it out quickly & always keep improving.
How do you relax?
We obviously like a beer or two, but love to travel. Last year we went to New York, the Channel Islands & we spend us much time as we can eating fish and chips in Scarborough over the summer months. We’re lucky to have a good team, it’s allowed us to take time away from the shop and of course, with social media such a big thing for us, we can run all that from anywhere in the world! 2017 is shaping up as New York (again – we loved it), Vienna and more of the Yorkshire East Coast.
What is the biggest lesson life has taught you?
Life has taught me to be appreciative of just being alive and healthy, to appreciate everyone and everything that comes along in our lives. I try not to moan, try my best to see the good in everything I experience. It doesn’t have to be all about the big things…….. give me a warm sunny day, a few fluffy clouds, maybe a beer and I’ll give you a beaming wide smile! 🙂
To find out more about Beer Central, to contact Sean or order online, go to: