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Marketing the market

Town pioneers 21st century approach to promoting Victorian retail attraction

MARKETS have come a long way from when the stallholders had to rely on their own voice bellowing “get yet strawberries, pahnd a punnet” if the latest venture in Accrington is anything to go by.

The Lancashire town are pioneering a 21st century approach to promoting their traditional market in the historic grade two-listed Victoria Market Hall which won the title of Britain’s Best Indoor Market in 2011 and sells everything from greetings cards, gifts and flowers, through clothing to fresh fish and batteries, as well as having a hairdresser and cafe.
Opened in 1869, a £2million revamp of the building was completed in 2010, bringing the 60 kiosks under the dramatically high ceiling and more in the outdoor pavilions up to date but the local authority, Hyndburn Borough Council, wanted to do more to market the market.
They have joined with locally-based marketing specialists Scott Dawson Advertising to combine the traditional shopping experience with the latest promotional tools – Accrington Market now has its own website, dedicated YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter feed as well as a personal shopper.
"It's my job to oversee customers' orders from start to finish,” said Kirsty Lauder, who works from the Market Hall, “from the moment they come in until they end up in the customer's hands.
"Whether customers call in to quickly collect their order at a time convenient to them, or arrange to have one of our drivers drop it off at their home or business, I can look after that.
“And if there's something special that customers can't see on the website, chances are I can hunt it out from one of the stalls if they contact me."
The website is divided into categories, Home & Gift, Clothing, Goods, Fresh Fruit & Veg, Meats & Fish and Vouchers, and there are discounts for online shoppers.
Nine months on from its official launch by Jesse McClure, star of the hit Dave TV show Storage Hunters, the online market is growing steadily, with neighbouring local authorities showing a keen interest.
Murray Dawson, MD of Scott Dawson Advertising, added: "We understand markets and saw that Accrington Market wasn't selling itself quite as well as it could be.
"All the great things were in place, but sometimes we all forget how affordable, satisfying and fun it is to shop at your local Market Hall. It was time to shake things up a little, so the idea of marketing our market in a thoroughly modern way was born.
"Hyndburn Council listened and together we got to work developing a digital and practical solution that builds on all of the fantastic traits of our much-loved market, as well as making them available for the first time to an online audience."

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