New initiative aims to bring small traders in to Blackburn Market
7:00pm Saturday 1st September 2012 in News
A NEW initiative to bring small traders into Blackburn Market in the hope they will blossom into full stallholders is taking off.
Already more than a dozen of 20 small units have been taken offering shoppers the opportunity to buy everything from Indian snacks through to flowers, home made cakes and gas fires.
Mark Smith, owner of Exchange Coffee company, set up the Artisan Row project as part of efforts to reinvigorate the growth of the new market a year after it opened its doors.
He said: “It’s really exciting and really refreshing. We have already let 12 of the 20 available stalls, including two yesterday (fri).
“Lots of people are asking about it. It’s a way for people to come into the market and set up cheaply. Hopefully some of these small businessmen and women will make a success and then go to the council and take a full stall with them.”
The scheme, under the umbrella of Mr Smith’s company Freshapproachin Ltd, offers fledgling retailer entrepreneurs the chance to try their hand at running a market stall for just £50 a week for 1.5 metre plot on a three month licence for up to a total of nine months.
The entrepreneurs then get the chance to take a bigger stall for £100 a week for a further six months as a preparation for hopefully taking a full size pitch which are available on three to six year leases from £500 a month.
The success of the new scheme was praised at this week’s full forum of Blackburn with Darwen council by regeneration chief Dave Harling after it was revealed that 98 of the 127 stall, 77 per cent, were now occupied.
He said: “We have a programme of promotional events for the next few months to increase footfall and improve the shopper experience. This includes stalls being offered under the Artisan Row banner.
“This gives budding traders the chance to try their hand at retailing in a market environment without having to make a huge investment.”
Conservative opposition leader Michael Lee asked what the council was doing to boost take up of market stalls and if they had a plan B if the latest raft of initiatives failed, Fellow Tory Alan Cottam said: “We need to encourage small shop owners. They are the market traders and shop owners of the future. It is a great market.”