From the business desk: thinking outside the box to increase trade

Business reporter Oli Poole
Business reporter Oli Poole

RETAIL – particularly for the smaller businesses across the Herald and Gazette area – can be a tough game.

While many independent traders are thriving, the ever-present challenges of lofty business rates and online shopping continue to provide difficulties for the high street.

Providing something different, or quirky, is often a must for survival.

This is exactly what traders in one street have done this month, coming together off their own backs to set up a farmers’ market in a bid to boost footfall to their out of town shopping parade.

Organisers of the Great Little Farmers’ Market in Goring Road, Worthing, believe more than 2,000 flocked to the inaugural event, with everything from mouth-watering marshmallows to jams and jewellery.

The traders who set up the market had a £3,500 grant from West Sussex County Council’s Community Initiative Fund to get them started and have gained the support of councillors at both county and local levels.

One experienced local councillor said he had never seen the parade so busy.

I am told organisers are already seeking permission from the county council to expand the market, in order to accommodate a burgeoning waiting list.

Let’s hope the momentum continues and visitors numbers increase as word spreads around the area of the market’s early success.

It has all the ingredients to give it a fighting chance of doing so; a vibrant and varied range of stall- holders, support from the powers that be and potential for high footfall, among other pluses.

But in this digital age, one of its strongest suits so far has been the promotion of the market on social media.

The organisers have flooded social media (and my inbox) with promotion of the market, while a Facebook competition was set up to choose the name and logo.

The online community was engaged from the get-go and this should provide a solid foundation for future growth.

And the ultimate spin- off will hopefully be increased trade for the Goring Road businesses, although time will tell how much of a spin-off this will create.

I am sure many local traders will be keeping a keen eye on the market’s progress and perhaps we will see other exciting initiatives dreamt up in the area in the near future.