Mansfield District Council is backing a new national campaign to find and nurture the market traders of tomorrow.
First Pitch is a major competition organised by the National Market Traders Federation to attract more entrepreneurs on to retail markets and the council is providing five days free test trading and discounted rents for entrants who are first-time traders on Mansfield Market.
Jordan Henry (28), of Nottingham, will be the first First Pitch contestant to stand on Mansfield Market when he brings his Halfmoon Project business to town on Wednesday 8th June, his first experience as a market trader.
Jordan designs uplifting artwork which is individually hand painted onto T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. He currently sells his lines via his website, www.halfmoon-project.co.uk but has ambitions to set up a retail operation and sees the opportunity to sell from a market stall as an important first step.
Whilst the number of traders across all traditional markets in the UK has fallen in recent years, Mansfield Market has bucked the trend in the last 12 months, with the number of occupied stalls increasing from 15,694 in 2009/10 to 16,326 in 2010/11.
Mansfield District Council has introduced a raft of new initiatives to support traders, including discounted stall rents during the low season (January to March), free car parking, an inclement weather policy and organising specialist themed markets to boost footfall.
Coun Kate Allsop, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration at Mansfield District Council, said: “We recognise the need to attract more new, vibrant businesses to the Market Place and we hope the First Pitch initiative can both benefit the market and provide a shop window for new traders.
“As times are tough, markets are a great, cost effective way for fledgling businesses to get a presence in town and city centres.”