St George`s Market will once again open its doors to new businesses who want to start-up their own food or craft industries.
Belfast City Council`s Market Start-Up Programme was piloted earlier this year and its success has led to another wave of the initiative – starting this October.
Nine new businesses were offered stalls at the city’s historic market for two Sundays in March to test trade their products. The range of goods introduced by the businesses varied from vintage jewellery and clothes to cupcakes and buns, jams and chutneys, plush teddies and fresh fruit products.
Now the programme is to be launched again and is open to 20 budding entrepreneurs in the Belfast City Council area. Free of charge, it will consist of workshops with an introduction to market trading; one-to-one mentoring; help with product development and support with a business plan.
The participants will get a chance to test trade their products at St George’s Market, take part in a special Meet The Buyer event and visit other international food and craft trade events.
Claire Magowan who runs The Lily Pink Bakery which specialises in buttercream cupcakes and layer cakes was a previous participant and lauded the programme.
“From the first meeting on the Market Start-Up Programme, I knew that running my own cake business was what I wanted to do and with the help of Belfast City Council, I would be able to achieve it. Through the programme, we got to visit local businesses that were happy to share their advice on a range of topics – everything from dealing with customers and the importance of originality right to more practical issues such as sourcing packaging and financing. We were also taught how to write a business plan – which was an invaluable help to me,” she said.
“At the end of the programme, we were each given a stall at St George’s Sunday Market to trial our products. I had spent the previous month trialling recipes for cupcakes to ensure that my cakes not only looked but tasted wonderful. Both weeks at St George`s were a complete success and I sold out of all stock. Following this success, I decided to trade as a casual trader at St George`s every Sunday and my stall has now been made permanent. Running The Lily Pink Bakery is now my full time job.”
Alderman Christopher Stalford, Chairman of Belfast City Council`s Development Committee, said: “The council is committed to supporting new and existing retailers. The Market Start-Up Programme will give new artisan food and craft producers a chance to test trade their products at St George`s Market and note the benefits of doing so and building a new business.”
To apply for the programme, you can visit the council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/businessprogrammes/marketprogramme.asp or you can contact Belfast City Council’s Economic Development Unit directly on 028 9027 0229.