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Frome Independent Marker is ‘more than a market’ – it’s not all retail therapy

The Frome Independent market has quickly risen to be the most hotly anticipated monthly event on the calendar, regularly bringing thousands of people into Frome to shop, eat, socialise and listen to some really great music.  

It’s clear the market has evolved into something really quite special, the people of Frome have embraced the market along with an ever growing out of town visitor population, and the masses of trader applications received each month are a clear indication that everyone wants in on the action.

The ethos and vision behind the market was to create an event that was ‘more than a market’ – not only does the strapline recognise that the market is one half of the story on the first Sunday of the month in Frome town centre –  the vibrant scene of independent businesses and boutique shopping is a major draw to the town and the perfect setting for the market, but it also expresses the aim to be more than just a retail experience for visitors and traders, so market days have come to offer social spaces, music, kids activities, art and special one-off events for visitors.

Behind the scenes The Frome Independent is also fully committed to assisting traders by providing a network and support structure for the start up businesses, designer makers and producers that attend the market.

Earlier this year The Frome Independent provided five Business Development Days organized and funded by the market with support from Somerset County Council’s Creative Industries Development Fund and  Frome Chamber of Commerce. Free professional development was offered to any trader on the books, which equates to approximately 800 individual stallholders.

Many of The Frome Independent’s traders are designers, makers, producers and small businesses that often lack the finances, opportunity and network to source additional skills to take their ventures to the next level.

The Business Development Days aimed to help bridge that gap. The sessions/workshops  in Accountancy, Social Media, Making the Web Work, Branding for Business Success, and Routes to Market were all run by successful Frome based professionals who designed the workshops to match the needs of the traders in developing their skills to benefit their businesses.

This approach to training and support for small business is entirely unique and innovative in a market context. Tabitha Clayson explains, “We wanted to create a nurturing and supportive framework in which traders can grow and flourish, to increase connectivity between and traders and to the market.

“We hope this will mean increased loyalty from traders as well as an encouragement  to keep their businesses in Frome or the region which in turn supports and bolsters the local economy.

“We were thrilled at the take up and response to the Business Development Days with many traders finding them extremely useful, not only in gaining new skills and knowledge but in being able to network with other designers, makers and producers. As a direct result of the Business Development Days a number of the traders have organised a new monthly networking group called Makers Meet.”

Jacinta Ingham, who runs Whinberry and Antler, relocated to Nunney last year after trading at the market, is spear heading Makers Meet.

Jacinta found the Business Development Days extremely beneficial. She said, “I was very surprised when I initially found out that the Frome Independent organisers were offering the business development sessions – it is not the kind of extra support that you may expect from a market. However I then considered how innovative The Frome Independent actually is, standing head and shoulders above other town markets that I have attended. I also thought that it was a very good idea to support the traders as it only strengthens the market itself.

“I found it incredibly motivating and supportive to have a professional stand in front of you and say ‘you can do this’. I certainly know that I came away from each session with renewed positivity and drive to push my business forward. These workshops have also given me the chance to make business connections and friends and swap advice and tips.

“I have since gone on to create ‘Makers Meet’, an informal networking group for creative makers in and around the Frome area meeting once a month. We have met three times now and each session has been a great opportunity for us to ask each other for tips and advice from things such as taking good product photos, how to sell with trade, product development and much more.” –  @morethanamarket – @makersmeet –