05 Apr Horsham Markets turnaround story
Horsham has a Market Charter dating back to the 13th Century, with traders at that time demanding the Charter as meat was going up to London rather than being sold through Horsham. In more recent times the market was closed in the late 80’s to make way for a Shopping Centre but returned a decade later with a Local Produce Market started in the Carfax in the mid 90’s.
Private landlords closed the General Market in the town in 2000 following pressure from a market trader who had taken a shop in the centre but a later deal with the Council was struck to move market to other the end of town with the support of The Town Centre Forum, but another decade later the market was crying out for help with equipment in a bad way and traders providing their own steel and tarpaulin. No marketing had supported the venture for a long time and with traders dictating times, where they traded and how much space they took up the market had generally gone stale.
The first steps to be taken in order to turn the market around was the understanding that Markets in the UK have changed and can no longer be managed the old way. PJ Aldred, from Aldred Associates who has been working for the last 25 years in providing specialist consultancy services to both the private and public sector had become the new organiser for Horsham Markets understood intrinsically that some of the more traditional lines, such as fashion, tools and 50p stalls can no longer compete with shops. PJ then undertook an evaluation of what was needed [pull_quote align=”left”]we quickly came to the conclusion that this would be anything that cannot readily be found in shops or even online such as street food, local produce, arts and crafts, value foods such as green grocer, butcher and bakery[/pull_quote] and began work in earnest with local stakeholders who realised that a market can add many more independents into a town centre, with some even going on to take shops themselves.
These days there is a different type of trader to be found on Horsham Market in the Carfax. Many are novices and hale from all backgrounds, PJ realises that they often need more help but provides training to enable the markets traders to become successful, providing good customer service and understanding the value of it. Since the market relaunched nearly £30k in equipment, marketing and website design has been invested into Horsham Market in addition to hundreds of management hours. Working with their environment they have looked at trading times and making sure these tie in to support local shop keepers, they ensure that stalls and vans no longer block shop windows and doorways but just as importantly that to make the market successful the markets team need to play a part in their town, and not just treat it as the place that the market is held. They are careful not to get drawn into a non-competing policy, as PJ reminded us at the Horsham Roadshow [pull_quote align=”right”]the more restaurants in a street, the better each one will do[/pull_quote]
Attracting traders into 2013 is a continual process for the Market but they have ensured that the 24 hour online application process is simple with info being easily accessible on their website. They will always meet with new traders prior to starting to trade or make sure they are on the market should a potential new trader decide to have a reccie and the Horsham Markets team pride themselves on always returning calls.
In line with LYLM principles Horsham Markets operates an opening offer to new traders as well as offering mentoring. During Love your Local Market fortnight on May 16th, they will be holding their second Market Biz event to encourage new traders and give them the tools they need to succeed. The team are well versed in social media practices and use it just as much to keep their traders up to date as the general public.
The last pieces of advice that PJ had when giving her talk at the LYLM Roadshow was to always be fair and transparent, charge the same based on space booked; be firm and consistent, once you’ve let one pack up an hour early, they all will; don’t be greedy with your rents, better a full market; continue to promote your market, help and encourage them to promote themselves; encourage good stall presentation, they have even paid for special workshops and run ‘Best Dressed Stall’ competitions; encourage them and praise products or better SHOP with them; try and make the market a fun and pleasant place to be at for traders and customers and last but not least [quote size=”small” style=”none”]
Don’t be a grumpy Toby