Budding would-be market traders who took part in a free public scheme to learn the trade are being given the chance to flog their wares to Belfast shoppers in the run-up to Christmas.
Visitors to St George’s Market later this month will be able to sample a range of fine foods and products from traders who took part in a business programme organised by Belfast City Council earlier this year.
Twenty of those who took part in the council’s Market Start Up Programme will be test trading at the historic market from Monday, December 17 until Wednesday, December 19 — as part of the venue’s additional opening hours during the festive period.
The aspiring traders from all parts of the city will be selling a variety of products including hand-crafted jewellery, recycled furniture and crafts, personalised cards and stationery, textile arts, high-quality photographs of local places and a range of international fine foods, desserts and cakes.
As part of the programme, the participants took part in tailored workshops which gave them an introduction to market trading, received one-to-one mentoring on developing their business ideas and had help with sourcing new materials, packaging and displays.
They also had the chance to meet successful business owners and market traders and get tips from them on how to succeed in the business.
The programme was free-of-charge and was open to residents of Belfast keen to open their own food or craft business.
Alderman Christopher Stalford, chairman of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee, wished all of those taking part a busy and profitable sales stint.
“The council is committed to supporting new and existing retailers, and the Market Start Up Programme gives new artisan food and craft producers a chance to sell their products and see whether markets are a suitable outlet,” he said.
One of the participants, Alex Begley, from chocolaterie and bakery Madame Cocoa, said: “I am really looking forward to trading at the market.
“It’s a great opportunity to attract new customers, particularly during the busy Christmas period.
“It is an invaluable opportunity for me to test the market and fine-tune my business idea and interact with customers and other traders. I have developed a lovely product and I cannot wait to see the public reaction to it.”
Asa McDowell from Asa McDowell Textiles said: “I have always wanted to run my own business. Through the Market Start Up Programme, I am now selling my products through a few local shops and I see the market as a great way to get customers’ reactions.
“It’s exciting to trade at the Christmas Market and we hope it will be well-attended.”