Diana Fawcett is the Town Centre & Regeneration Manager at Aylesbury where she has be working with Young Enterprise for a number of years. She explains how the partnership has brought vitality to the market both in terms of traders and as customers:
“We’re trying to position the market in a different way in Aylesbury. Rather than a place of low value items, we are developing the market as a place of concept, vision and experience. Aylesbury Market is the place where you can get something different. The work we do with young people is vital to that strategy.
“Young Enterprise is the UK’s leading charity that empowers young people to harness their personal and business skills. It works with young people aged between 16-18 years old through business advisors in schools. Through the scheme young people learn how to set up and run their own business as a limited company. They have to build, make, construct or purchase products which they have to sell.
“The challenge with this partnership is that the schemes are very transient and you only have a very small window to work with the schools. So, we start working with the young businesses around September time each year and provide them with their first outlet on our Christmas Gift Market.
“That’s a massive event with a huge number of stalls. The Young Enterprise section has about 12 stalls and it’s own branding and banners.
“It works on so many levels, because it brings in kids who don’t normally shop at the Market, as well as their families, mums and dads, grandparents – all potential new shoppers.
“Many of the young traders are high achievers. They are all aspiring Alan Sugars and often put the more established traders to shame. In fact, I think that ‘Apprentice’ programme has a lot to do with it.
“Their product displays and their branding and marketing is outstanding. They have put a lot of thought and effort into how they want their business to look. They are often better at engagement because they are young. They are in suits – even though its winter and it’s minus three outside!
“When they arrive on site they are met by their Young Enterprise representative. We meet them and give them tips and advice like how to engage with the public, not to be stuck behind your phone but at the same time check in with social media.
“It’s such a busy event, a lot sell out of stock in 2 hours. They have to pay for their first pitch on the Christmas Craft market. That’s because they need to learn how to balance their books because this is the real world. They pay the going rate which is £26 and they get a subsidy to support that from the Young Enterprise project.
“We then speak to them and offer them the opportunity to trade for free with advice, support, social media back up etc when they come in.
“I would recommend any market to build a relationship with your local Young Enterprise team. The launch event is usually the middle of September that’s when all the schools and tutors and support advisors get together.
“I usually have a half hour slot, talking about how we are repositioning the market and how it’s undervalued as a place to sell.
“I explain to the students that this an opportunity to get direct access to their customers to judge their reaction to their product, face to face. It’s the perfect place to do market research and see if your brand works.
“In terms of attracting young people, that’s key to creating the customers of the future. That’s one of the reasons we amended our Friday market to become Foodie Friday market. We saw an opportunity to re-cluster our food market as a street food offer.
“We took that as a leap of faith and we have had massive amounts of street food creating a different offer on that day and for the first time we have people from the offices in Aylesbury coming out on Friday lunchtime and buying on the market.
“The local Grammar School is a 5-10 minute walk from the market and I’m keen to encourage the students. If I can get them to my lunch on the market we are starting to introduce a new style of customer. It sounds corny and we say it a lot but it’s true … youth are the future.
“We have got to get young people shopping on the market. I can’t be selling them something they don’t need or want.
“I’m fully aware that many of the students will go on to University and leave the area, but I really hope that at some point in their career when they are thinking about starting their own business they will want to set up in the market. I hope that they will think that they had a good opportunity and experience at Aylesbury.
“In the long term we are sowing the seeds for the future and helping people to have a love of the place. They will associate the town with their memories of being given an opportunity to trade in a collective and cohesive way – that’s the Aylesbury concept, vision and experience.”
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