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Happy Birthday Frome Independent

This month celebrates the anniversary of the hugely popular Frome Independent Market.

The fantastic monthly market which started under the guise of St Catherine’s Artisan Market some five years ago has quickly risen to become one of the most well supported and celebrated events of the Frome calendar, bringing together thousands of local people and tourists each month to shop, browse stalls, listen to music and eat delicious food in our town centre.

The market is a not-for-profit social enterprise company, which has created a wonderful destination market for Frome, putting the town back on the map and reclaiming our rightful crown as a true Somerset Market Town. In the last five years the market has provided a huge boost to Frome Economy.

Local shop keeper Antony from Assembly on Catherine Hill said, “The Frome Independent is wonderful asset to the town, a bench mark for how markets should be done and I think its great. Market Sundays are so busy for me, but not only that we find people discover us at the market, often finding we’re too busy to get through the doors, and then come back later in the month, it’s fair to say the market has had a significant impact on our business, we love it.”

In 2012 and 2013, the market was known as Frome Super Market, and took over the whole of the town centre, linking up St Catherine’s, the Frome Flea and introducing new trading areas on  the Bridge and the Westway Centre.

In 2014, the market was re-launched as The Frome Independent to reflect Frome’s independent spirit and has positively thrived under the direction of Tabitha and Claire, who have been the market co-coordinators since June 2013.

Tabitha and Claire set themselves a list of objectives to improve the market over the past year, all of which they have managed to achieve through their incredible hard work and dedication. Amongst those objectives were;

To establish the Artisans Suitcase Sale on Catherine Hill – a miniature artisan’s market for designer-makers to showcase new ranges, and for young designers to give the market a go.  To introduce new social spaces with live music, and to curate the market so that traders, visitors, residents and shop keepers alike could all have a great day.

They have also invested in an online booking system for traders, new parasols for wet weather protection and have recently commissioned a town map, which helps tourists explore everything Frome has to offer.

Tabitha and Claire said, “We set out to create an event which celebrated Frome’s existing offer of great local independent retail and creative culture, whilst also giving something back to locals by taking Frome back to its Market Town roots.

“Creating new social spaces was key to this, as we wanted the market to be about a day out, for local people, families and visitors to experience and enjoy our town, rather than simply a shopping experience.   Our goal is for the market to enable our traders and Frome businesses to thrive, but also for residents to feel proud of their town, to get together and enjoy their locality.

“With the help of a small but very dedicated team, and the support of a number of Frome businesses and community organisations, we have been able to make some of this happen over the past year, but there is much more still to come!”

The Frome Independent really is more than a market, and as part of their initiative to nurture small businesses they were successful in receiving funding from Somerset County Council’s Creative Industries Development Fund and Frome Chamber of Commerce to run five Business Development days earlier this year, providing free professional development to traders.

On the first Sunday of every month Frome comes alive with bustling crowds of excited people, the streets are full of colour, all chatter speaks of locally sourced, carefully made, lovingly crafted goods and artisans whilst delicious smells waft through the centre of town, promising a huge range of world food to whet your appetite. It’s fair to say that The Frome Independent Market has changed the town for the better, that all should be incredibly proud of its achievements and continue to support the fantastic monthly events.

Next month’s market is set to be as exciting as ever.  With a whole range of children’s activities taking place in the Westway precinct, an incredible array of designer-makers, and some exciting new things on the street food menu (including fresh fish burgers and oysters!) July 6th is not to be missed.