The Stalybridge Handmade Market of 2014 took place on Saturday 22/11 and for the final time this year, and at this venue, the market attracted huge crowds. From opening at 10am the queues started forming and the customers couldn't wait to see all the festive handmade gifts inside. With the whole ground floor of the civic hall packed full of stalls there was a real buzz about the building.
Sale based singer Colette Todd kicked off the live musical performances in the main hall just after 10 followed by Willow Wood Choir and The Dollar Bombers. The event has become more than just a craft market with local kids club Grow Happy Childcare providing kids craft activities and Gymtec Stalybridge doing a sponsored row in aid of Reuben's Retreat it's great to involve local businesses.
Stalybridge based company MWL Events, owned by entrepreneur Katherine Brookes, have been running the markets in this venue since April 2013. Over the course of 18 months around 16,000 visitors have attended the markets increasing footfall, and boosting local economy, in this usually quiet town. The shops that have opened in the town recently is evidence that the markets have made a difference. What started as a community project for Katherine is now a full time career and there are plans to move the markets around the Tameside and surrounding area and run them more regularly. With the closure of the civic hall from next year Katherine is working hard to find a suitable alternative in the town but with spaces of this size few and far between its looking unlikely, unless the market moves outdoor. Katherine said 'if I'd had £1 for every person who asked where the market would be next year I'd be able to retire. We really wanted to be able to announce our new venues on Saturday but sadly we've not yet found anywhere we're happy with. The markets are regularly attracting over 1000 visitors each time so we have to take into consideration capacity in the venues not just the size. Location is very important, as is parking and accessibility. We know that people are now travelling from further afield to visit the markets so central venues aren't necessarily required.'
This year the markets have raised £3000 for local charity Reuben's Retreat through charging a small admission fee. Saturdays market also raised money for Willow Wood Hospice. 'We are a commercial business but we are also able to give something back to local charities at the same time' said Katherine.
As well as the Stalybridge Handmade Markets MWL Events are hosting a pop up Christmas cabin at this years Tameside Christmas Markets in Ashton under Lyne from the 28/11 until 21/12 with a different trader selling in the cabin daily. 'It's great to be involved in such a great local event and if successful could become a regular spot for us' said Katherine. Portland Basin museum will also play host to a mini festive handmade market on the 7/12 in addition to the museum's annual Christmas Funday which runs from 11am until 3pm.
For further details and announcements please visit www.mwlevents.co.uk