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Ann Hunter board director of Exeter Chamber and Business Improvement District Manager at InExeter Ltd ( shares her views on the power of markets

‘Firstly, it’s a great idea. Giving startups an affordable platform and a community of indie creatives is just a lovely contrast to the negativity elsewhere in the world. We can support one another and bask in the joy of making stuff and seeing what other people make…’ 

‘The Fore Street Fleas have really been a game changer for us.  The atmosphere is always so good, and it has given us an amazing opportunity to connect with customers and build relationships with people, customers, and traders.’ 

Giving a platform and space to over 200 different maker, crafters, creatives, designers, artisans, and artists; showcasing the talents of more than 20 musicians and performers and drawing over 1500 people each time, the Fore Street Flea is evidence of the power of local markets.  The two powerful, supportive quotes above, from the perspective of a market trader and a bricks and mortar retailer build a compelling case for greater investment in markets in Exeter. 

The last eight Fore Street Flea events, running September 2021 to March 2022, were funded through the Welcome Back Fund (WBF) which was provided through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support the safe return to high streets and help build back better from the pandemic. InExeter was awarded £25,000 through Exeter City Council to cover the cost of managing and hosting the Fore Street Fleas and what a success this has proven.  

The power of markets is far reaching. They offer possibilities not just for local economic growth, yes in terms of greater footfall and spend on market days, but also opportunities for start-ups, entrepreneurs, and retailers of the future to have affordable, accessible opportunities to trade and for current businesses to build stronger relationships with existing and new customer audiences. Markets also enable people space and time to mix and mingle, connect, interact, and share ideas with each other and therefore help build communities. Markets offer a way to enjoy public spaces together and allow us to reimagine our streets. 

A 2015 report from researchers at the Institute of Place Management, summarises findings from a study commissioned by NABMA into the impact of markets on the economic, social, and political health of towns and cities. 

InExeter value the power of markets and have recently recruited Lottie Stanley as Markets Manager.  Lottie is leading a brilliant diary of markets.  Indoor markets have started at Positive Light Projects and are scheduled monthly. The first brought 30 local traders together and was an incredible showcase of local makers. The next is taking place on April 30, 10am-3pm. Look out for news on a book and creative workshop market coming soon.  

In August we will be hosting the ‘Young Market Traders Competition’ regional finals. This event celebrates and supports the next generation of market traders and will see up to 30 hand selected traders from all over the Southwest come to trade in the city. We will be looking for sponsors for the event so it would be great to hear from anyone who has an interest in supporting these young people to do well. Please do get in touch if you would like to put your name forward in any way. 

This is just the start and to keep the momentum going means investment. Let’s build markets into the fabric of this city; creating well designed market spaces in new developments; repurposing empty units or reimaging streetscapes. Let’s invest in local makers, designers and crafters who’ll drive growth and let’s champion community. 

Ann Hunter board director of Exeter Chamber and Business Improvement District Manager at InExeter Ltd