As Market Manager of Forest Row Parish Council, Sue Young wears many other hats!
‘I’m also, burials clerk, which means I manage all things cemetery! I am also the administrator of Forest Row car club, cycle hire scheme, community transport which is a volunteer run service giving lifts to medical appointments.’
Sue describes Forest Row which is held on the First Saturday monthly, as a very social market, selling locally produced artisan food & drink as well as handmade crafts. The market was started in 2012 and is now in 6th year.
‘Our market is the heart of the community because of its very social atmosphere, we have a seating area where people come down and socialise with friends, they are known to spend hours drinking coffee and chatting whilst enjoying the food, drink & music on offer. Forest Row is a small community but on average we have about 1500 and 2000 people on Market day and that’s amazing when you think that there’s only 5200 on the electoral register.’
Sue completed the NABMA Diploma in Market Management in 2016 and is keen to become a pioneer in making markets dementia friendly, plastic free and zero waste.
‘The diploma was an amazing experience for me – because up until a few years ago I was the market manager assistant. I was responsible for the finances and I’d help with the planning and setting up of the market and kept my predecessor in tow. When he left I took over as manager and I hadn’t got a clue about the legalities of anything which is why I found the diploma and my tutors to be such a great support. It was not only interesting, but there was so much information that I didn’t know about market rights, health and safety issues, and all sorts of things like trading standards and becoming a Fake Free market.
‘The things I learnt I passed onto my colleagues on the Wealden District Councils Markets Group, this enabled me to help them with their booking forms and social media, showing them how to get their information out to a wider demographic so they could attract more customers, get more stall holders. In fact, every single aspect of the diploma I shared with them!
‘So, as a result it’s actually helped to make their markets more prosperous as well. There are 8-10 markets through the Wealden District, but they were very small markets, with just 5 or 6 stalls. Quite a few are now at maximum capacity with up to 18 traders and I believe this is down to the Diploma course!
‘It has helped me, as Market Manager, and our market because I am more confident in all aspects of my role. When I took over I had 18 stalls now we have 35 stalls regularly, so our market has grown as well as the others in the area!’
‘In 2017 we won Britain’s Best Small Community Market as well as coming 2nd in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards, I never could have imagined how much of a positive impact winning the awards would have – people came to me and said we really want to be a part of your market.
‘I have a strict no duplication policy and keep a waiting list. If I didn’t have that policy I would probably need to employ more staff to help set up and have a bigger venue, I could easily double my stalls.
‘Last year I met an artisan gin producer at the Sussex Food and Drink Awards (I’m a gin freak so I invited them to come to the market on a free first month trial). They only produced 75 bottles each batch and sold all the gin at the first market. So, they came back to the next one. She was pondering on whether to try a new recipe for a cloudy mango gin but didn’t think it would take off. I offered to try it and said that if I thought it was good, I’d help promote it, I loved it and they have had to expand their business because of the positive feedback from the markets customers. This gin is now the bestselling gin in our local pubs! The sad thing is that she’s had to stop selling at our market because she can’t keep up with demand!
‘I see no reason for markets to be dead. If you get a stall holder that says I didn’t do very well today – my response is – maybe you are not selling the right produce? I encourage them to do something different to catch the eye of the customers. To ask themselves, if they can change things slightly? For example, one month the candle stall only took £6.99. I suggested that as it was barbeque season they might like to try citronella instead, they followed my advice and sales went up at the next market selling Citronella candles & wax melts. This just proves that if you know your customers and give them what they want, they will come back and buy from your stall.
‘I would describe my work as the best job ever – but that’s because I love it! If you are enthusiastic about your market, then others will be too.’