Are you looking for some unique Christmas gifts? Or maybe just some fresh food to make a cracking Christmas dinner? Why not shop at a local market near you?
Suffolk Market Events now host six markets every month, though Colchester and Long Melford are now closed due to Covid regulations, so that you can grab all of your local goods at a price that isn’t going to break the bank.
Justine Paul, the founder of Suffolk Market Events, started up her business by complete accident in 2008 after visiting a local market in Lavenham and finding it to be on its last legs with only a handful of stalls and little customers.
Justine was a nurse at the time but it was her husband, Alex, who suggested Justine should take on the markets she loved so dearly. From that day onwards, Justine got out her bubble printer and began posting leaflets for the new Suffolk Market Events through everybody’s doors.
Now, 12 years later, Justine has completely transformed the local market scene with a wide arrange of stalls where you can purchase everything from flowers to vegan-friendly fudge to fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread.
Justine has found that, with the threat of Covid-19 hanging over everyone’s heads, people are flocking to their outdoor markets to purchase their goods.
“We’ve actually found that the traders and customers right now are much happier shopping outside in the fresh air and footfalls have increased because of this, which is great. We seem to have retained a large number of new customers here as well, the markets are reporting an increase in takings of over 50 percent compared to this time last year,” said Justine.
Suffolk Market Events has also gone on to win multiple awards such as the Clarissa Dickson Wright Award, a national award given by the Countryside Alliance, in 2019 and the East Anglian Suffolk Food and Drink Award in 2015 to name a few.
They continue to develop and thrive, even planning to run a few courses in the future to help local business owners start their own stalls. Justine wants to give young entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow and expand their ideas with these new courses- just as Justine did not so long ago when she started Suffolk Market Events.
Justine explained: “Recently we’ve had a lot of inquiries from young entrepreneurs who have got really great ideas. During Covid, we’ve had a massive increase in inquiries from people who have had to become more innovative and create their own jobs and so we spent a lot of time on the phone talking to people about what they need to do to turn that idea into a business and into a market stall.
“So we decided to see if we could start running courses where we can have a number of people together at the same time so that information can be shared on a larger scale, rather than spending an awful lot of time talking to individuals.”
Justine has even managed to secure some funding from the Sustainable Development Fund and is going to run a pilot course in March for six people who will have the opportunity to turn their idea into a functioning market stall:
“It means that those people with those fantastic ideas get a really, really low-cost platform to promote those products and to grow that business. We’ve worked with lots of small-scale producers but if we can start to grow tiny micro-producers that have never worked in that environment before, that would be really special,” Justine said.
Shopping at local markets will not only help provide for local businesses during this trying time but also provide a get-away for a lot of people during this lonely time.
Justine said: “Our markets are very much a community hub. I was just talking to somebody now who said that throughout lockdown the Friday market has been the most important place for her because she’s come here every single week and she’s seen people she’s been able to say hello to people, she’s felt less cut off and less desperate. I think that’s really important.
“I think they really like the relationship they’ve built up with traders and they feel part of it all. I think when you feel like you’ve become part of that kind of extended family, almost, that’s a really important lifestyle for a lot of people.
“So we see the same people coming to all markets throughout the month that go visit each market and if you can achieve that, then you’re making a big impact on the local economy. You’re having a big impact on people’s lifestyle, because if they can come to market every week throughout the month, then a large proportion of their food is being bought from local producers, and that’s really, really important to us.”
If Suffolk Market events is something that you’re interested in seeing for yourself, then be sure to head to their Ipswich, Hadleigh, Lavenham, Bury St. Edmunds, or Sudbury markets to see the fresh produce for yourself.
If you’re looking to get involved with Suffolk Market Events be sure to check out their website or drop Justine an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a search through their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter @Suffolkmarketevents.