We chatted to Ellie about the work involved in promoting hundreds of events and thousands of businesses across the UK through the Love Your Local Market project. Read on to find out more…
Hi Ellie, tell us a bit about yourself and Love Your Local Market.
I run the Mrs Market UK Twitter account in order to support the Love Your Local Market social media activity online. I have a history of working in town centres and putting on events and applied for a job with the National Association of British Market Authorities back in January 2013 to run the Love Your Local Market campaign for a period of five months. The expectations at that time were to get 500 markets signed up to take part and for those markets to offer 3000 pitches to new traders for entrepreneurial opportunities.
The campaign last year went extremely well with nearly 700 markets taking part and it was decided at that time to extend the period of the campaign till at least 2015 and I was retained as manager at that time.
What is Love Your Local Market and what does it aim to do?
Love your Local Market in a nutshell is a campaign that raises the profile of UK markets whilst raising the affection for UK markets with the public and to get as many markets working together I'm signed up to celebrate our vibrant culture and heritage. We now have over 900 markets taking part and this year's representatives from the markets industry in France, Italy, Spain and Holland have all signed a Memorandum of interest in the House of Commons last month declaring that they would be taking part in Love Your Local Market also.
LYLM has been going since 2012 – what have been the highlights for you this year?
As well as encouraging new people in the markets industry and offering entrepreneurs a low cost, low risk route to market we have a particular focus on young people this year, not only to champion the next generation of traders but to advocate the use of our town centre spaces as performance space and a place to come and be educated about the importance of short supply chains, transparency and in short 'where our food comes from'.
Who have been the biggest supporters to date and how have they contributed?
On the first weekend of Love Your Local Market this year, markets across the country held youth events like that in Haverhill in Suffolk, while in Wolverhampton and Kettering the national Teenage Market was held having been started in Stockport the previous year by brothers Joe and Tom Barratt, who now licence the concept to local councils and town teams.
Another great example is the Canterbury Student Makers Market that gives young people the skills to sell on a variety of platforms including the all important 'online' who say on their Homepage 'A street market is not solely a trading area but also a key aspect of the city’s social capital' – @Future_Foundry
Why is it so important for people to support their local UK market?
Markets have suffered a poor image for quite a while now and what all these incentives and new markets hope to achieve is a new breed of market trader, who reaches out to their public in a variety of ways including social media, which forms the cornerstone to the LYLM campaign.
You’re very active on social media; what benefits has this brought for your campaigns?
It's been great to see the number of market operators on Twitter and Facebook grow over the last couple of years and to be able to interact with traders old and new. Pictures and videos add visual conformation on a daily basis that our UK markets are places of innovation and vibrancy and at the moment our hashtag #LYLM2014 is making 12.6 million impact on Twitter a week which is testament to that growth.
How can people support the cause and get involved?
For anyone wishing to get involved in Love Your Local Market throughout the year, our social media resources will support your market if you interact with us and we have free posters to download on our website as well as a Campaign Pack that gives you all the information you need to write press releases, download our logos, interact with us on social media, as well as a load of information about the campaign and some great quotes from industry leaders.
How are you planning to develop Love Your Market further in the future?
In terms of taking LYLM forward into 2015, we have heard that our friends over at Beijing Farmers' Market who we met last year and who run 28 markets in the mega city, each with over 1,000 traders are in the process of signing up and we already have a town in the States signed up as well as interest from Estonia, Greece, Poland and other European countries….so we look set to break the 1,000 mark in terms of markets signed up that bodes well for raising the profile of markets.