Last Tuesday, 17th April 2018, we finally opened the shutters on The Merch Table to the public. Born in my mind a few years ago, it has been an interesting journey to reach this point. I’m very proud that I’ve been able to build the business to this point and I’ve been overwhelmingly excited by the positive response we have received so far.
Peterborough City Market is much in need of a new lease of life and there are several new stall holders who have joined alongside us here to start to bring that. Most of the existing stall holders have been very welcoming and within a week we have been made to feel a part of a community.
The city council have been exceedingly supportive of us at Here We Aren’t. They are aware that much needs to be done to improve the profile of the market itself and to increase footfall over here. The market is unfortunately poorly located in Peterborough’s city centre in 2018. In 1963 it made sense to relocate to the market here, but there is not much to draw people through this part of the city centre. (Tesco have also now closed their entrance on Bayard Place, reducing footfall even further, but I shall refrain from remark about the supermarket giant here.) I feel that they see the potential Here We Aren’t’s new business venture and particularly the community-focussed aspect of what we are doing with The Merch Table. That could be a key to changing perceptions about the market itself and move toward their intention to turn this into a desirable shopping destination in its own right.
The most enthusiasm though has been received by those who have come by. I have been personally surprised by the diversity of those that have chosen to stop in and chat – talking about art and music as well as local culture and history. Some of them have even bought some items! It’s always a relief once you see that we were right: there is a market for the things we’re all creating!
Sure, sales are slow, but no business can expect a mad rush from day one – with little-to-no paid promotion or marketing spend yet. This soft launch has been a good way to gauge reaction and to reassure me that we’re moving in the right direction. I’m looking forward to seeing what the impact some real advertising and promotional efforts can make.
So, to summarise: it’s been a good start. Here’s to the future.