Twenty-five traders have so far taken advantage of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s offer of reduced rent at its markets across the city – and more are being encouraged to sign up.
Since the start of the year, a range of benefits have been on offer at the city’s eight indoor and outdoor markets, aimed at helping them survive and thrive, and make town centres more attractive places to visit.
One of the key initiatives gives 18 to 25-year-olds a 75 per cent discount in rent for up to 16 weeks, to help budding entrepreneurs get their ideas and businesses off the ground. This means they can rent a single stall in Hanley Indoor Market for just £34 per week.
Other initiatives being offered include:
· A 10 per cent reduction in rent at all markets for current traders for a two-year period;
· A 50 per cent rent discount for all new traders for up to 16 weeks;
· A market training and support programme, worth £24,900 in the first 12 months, with funded guidance and access to training on retail presentation, sales and customer service and social media presence;
· A consultation with traders on opening hours, to ensure the markets meet shopping habits in the 21st century;
· A ‘loyalty bonus’ is being developed for market traders, which will see a selection of discounts against council services such as gym memberships.
Jack Wardle, from Hanford, has signed up for the under-25 discount. The 23-year-old has set up his stall called Ella’s Vapes at Hanley Indoor Market, which sells e-cigarettes and vapes. He said: “I’d been trading online but when I saw the council’s offer for its markets it looked really good so I spoke to my other half and decided to go for it. In my first two weeks I turned over four to five times more than I would have done in an average month so I’m pleased with how it’s going.
“I think the rent reduction is a good idea because it will get more traders occupying space in the market, which will attract more shoppers in, so it’s good news for everyone. My advice to anyone reading this and thinking about taking up the offer is just go for it. If it doesn’t work out you can walk away so there’s nothing to lose. For me it’s gone better than I thought it would and I’ve now got a market stall in the main shopping centre in Hanley for a very good price.”
Olivia Longsdon has set up a sweet stall at Tunstall Market. The 18-year-old, from Stoke, studied business at college and has aspirations of going to university to study business law. She said: “My dad has a stall in the market, and when he told me about the offer I went up and had a look around with him. I asked him what the market didn’t have and he said there used to be a sweet stall but that had gone, so I decided to go for it.
“It’s been going well so far, my dad has been helping me out and the customers and all of the other market traders have been really friendly and supportive. It’s a nice environment. I did business at college but having a market stall is great because it gives you hands-on experience of what operating a business is actually like. My advice to anyone out there with an idea would be just go for it – the council offer for 18 to 25-year-olds is really good and has been a massive help to me.”
So far 29 traders have been given one-to-one social media and business skills training as part of the initiative, with a further 35 booked in for sessions. And each market is now actively working to promote its presence on social media.
Conservative Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “It’s great to see traders taking up our fantastic offer and already enjoying success on their stalls. We have more than 20 traders signed up who have taken new stalls, which is really promising. The more stalls we can fill, the more shoppers the markets will attract, which will be good news for everyone. If you’re thinking about it, get in touch with our markets team who will be happy to help.
“This is all about attracting young entrepreneurs with great ideas, and supporting our existing traders by giving them reduced rent and the opportunity to expand into another stall. I want to see our markets become bustling and thriving places. We’re passionate about supporting new and existing businesses, and markets are a great springboard for any business.”