New platforms are now helping many independent traders to stay in business
Markets, traders and producers have had to adapt very quickly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as social distancing measures have transformed the way people shop. Large and small gatherings have now been postponed and it’s no longer possible to visit local markets to buy locally produced food, drink, arts and crafts. Smaller independent stallholders can no longer trade in the traditional manner, so many market organisers have now come up with imaginative ways to support them.
Once we return to some sort of normality they will be able to bounce back
The Market Co, known for setting up a number of vibrant artisan markets across the region, has just launched a new online platform to support its traders and keep them in business. The company organise monthly markets in a number of towns and villages including Wilmslow, Urmston, Haigh Woodland Park in Wigan, Northwich, Chesterfield in Derbyshire and Formby. But mounting pressure on social media, on top of the official government announcement discouraging non-essential movement, meant that they suddenly had to postpone several events and start thinking about a different way to do business.
“Because of the current situation, we want to support these micro businesses and enable them to continue through this difficult time so that once we return to some sort of normality they will be able to bounce back,” says Denise Valente of The Market Co.
By creating an online platform, many of the talented artisans, small business producers and creators are still able to offer their handcrafted wares to the local community who want to continue to support them. Artisans Online is a fully functioning, multi-vendor, ecommerce marketplace where customers can browse at their leisure and purchase from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
“We already have lots of artisan stores signed up with more and more adding their products every day,’ adds Valente.
Customers can now choose to browse by category, or shop by store if they’re looking for their favourite trader. You’ll find work from local artists, jewellers and crafters, small-scale beauty products, candles, home wares and even items to keep your pets happy during self-isolation. Foodstuff ranges from homemade biscuits and pies, to jars of pickles, honey and jam. They’ll even make sure you keep your spirits up with a selection of small batch booze such as pear gin made in Alderley Edge or limited edition whisky from Great Drams.
Organisers of the Maker’s Markets - who co-ordinate monthly markets in places including Great Northern, West Didsbury, Chorlton, Cheadle, Sale, Knutsford, Northern Quarter and Lowry Outlet - have also launched a new online shop. They offer a wide range of local produce including fruit and veg, bread, pastries, cheese, meat and more. Customers just need to fill their online basket and complete their purchase before 1pm on Fridays, which will be passed on to their local artisan suppliers for delivery on specified days depending on particular areas. They have introduced a tiered delivery charge depending on the total cost of the order.
Products are listed in alphabetical order on the website, which covers a huge range of artisan suppliers from aromatics, artists and arancini to Winter Tarn Cheese as well as mega fruit and veg packs and pizza packs containing dough bases and sauces to create your own pizzas at home.
Organisers of the award winning Altrincham Market have also co-ordinated an easier way to get your favourite market goods. Although the popular indoor market has had to close, many of the outdoor stalls - including White’s fruit & veg stall, Lovingly Artisan Bakery and Plucky Pickle - are still open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings with strict social distancing measures in place. Now customers can pre-order their goods from all of the Alti Market market traders by filling out a form which can be requested here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have the necessary form, pre-order the basic food items you want to receive, they will assemble them, then you drive up and pick up from Market St on Tuesdays and Fridays. One person can easily pick up a number of boxes to drop off on their street or apartment block to help vulnerable and housebound people, especially elderly folk, who might not be able to visit the market in person. Payment is by cash.
Levenshulme Market has closed for the next three months but although the community enterprise is out of action as a venue, they have created an ongoing list of all traders currently offering local home deliveries, via a How to Create a Market in Your Own Home guide. Products listed include beer boxes from Buxton Brewery, roasted beans from Kickback Coffee and momos and wraps from Little Yeti. There are also homewares, soaps and even fresh flowers. You’ll also find information on various community groups if you’re looking to volunteer such as Open Kitchen MCR, Burnage Foodbank and Levy Corona Helpers who can help you co-ordinate a system to help your neighbours.
The recently revamped Radcliffe Market Hall is still open for business with strict social distancing measures in place. Queue times are minimal and they have a wonderful range of fresh fruit and vegetables, high quality meats and deli-items from Bells Egg Stall. Some of the community-minded stall holders have also offered to take phone orders from any location elderly customers who may not be able to get out in the coming weeks. They will arrange to deliver on foot to people living in the vicinity of the market.