“Protectionism” call to help town traders

Country shows are now Steve Hine's new Indulgence
Country shows are now Steve Hine's new Indulgence

A Rasen retailer who has shut his shop says the MR BIG markets compete against local traders and take money out of town.

Steve Hine says MR BIG should have some form of “protectionism” at its markets to help town traders- a move rejected by the organisation.

Steve and wife Carol operate Indulgence, which sells handbags and beauty products. For five years, they had shops in Market Rasen, but are now selling online or at country shows or markets, including attending MR BIG’s market, because it “is cheaper.”

“There isn’t enough business in Market Rasen. There isn’t the footfall.” he said.

Though Steve says those running MR BIG work hard and have “their hearts in the right place, they allow too many traders from outside the area.”

“How do you encourage people to go up the High Street when the market goods are half price? As a shopkeeper, you would find that a week after a MR BIG market, there was no money in the town. That tells me it’s wrong.”

Following Louth Market in restricting the types of stalls at the MR BIG Markets would help, he says.

But not everyone agrees. Bridget Pitman-Brand, owner of Market Rasen Pet Centre, says the MR BIG “markets are fantastic” and though it has a pet stall, “it doesn’t bother me.”

“He sends people to me and I send people to him,” she said.

Wendy Harrison of Blue River Jewellery said it “would be nice” if the MR BIG market had more local traders, but there would always be competition, adding there were other shops in Market Rasen sold handbags and jewellery but they were different. “More choice helps people decide what they want,” she said.

MR BIG’s chair Sara Scott says the markets bring visitors to Market Rasen, who will return if they like what they see. An influx of traders on market days means more competition, but a healthy high street should withstand this.

“We’ve never been protectionist and have no intention of becoming so. Ultimately customers vote with their feet and support the traders who supply the products and services that best meet their needs,” she said.