News has reached us that Urmston Market has been sold. Unconfirmed reports (someone told me in a shop) suggest that the market has been bought up by a company who have a track record of revitalising small markets like ours. I hope this is true. Our market has so much potential and it already boasts many great stalls and stallholders, some of whom have been there for decades. Few people know that a long time ago I myself had a market stall on Urmston Market. I sold wildly unpopular vegetarian wholefoods and was quite spectacularly unsuccessful, not to mention cold and wet.
Urmston Market is an old-fashioned sort of set-up. There’s no marketing strategy, corporate branding or much of an attempt to engage with social media. This lack of commercial awareness is a definite part of the market’s charm, but while I cannot claim to have expertise in the field of market-marketing (see what I did there?) I do think that Urmston Market needs to promote itself more effectively.
There are a few independent businesses in our town who have created a strong, recognisable image that doesn’t compromise their indy credentials. Fouette, the Bookshop, Kobella and the Glass Slipper to name only a few all make use of beautiful window displays. Thomas Carter Opticians run a Christmas stocking competition for local children and display the entries in their shop window.
Nobody could pass through Urmston town centre without noticing Home Estate Agents. Its bold and unusual use of pink is both memorable and subtly reassuring. Pink is a kind colour, a cosy colour, but it can also be a glamorous colour. Forget about the negative stereotypes of ruthless, cut throat estate agents, ready to sell their own granny shortly after pushing her down the stairs for the price of a cup of tea: the lovely pinkness of Home is telling us that this is an estate agent who does things differently. The whole team wear pink ties or cravats, which provides visual unity without the inevitable unstylishness of a ‘uniform’.
I work upstairs from Home and the whole team really do seem genuinely lovely. I should also probably say that the Vital Space and Paul Birtles team also seem terribly nice and friendly. I don’t know any more estate agents but I’m sure they are grand chaps and chapesses one and all. So, to sum up, I am not in any way suggesting that estate agents are cut throat types at all, just referencing the stereotype in order to illustrate my point which is that Home Estate Agents have good branding.
Another independent Urmston business that I like to think has good branding is my own business, Better Tuition. Our Better Tuition bird is a chubby blue creature that adorns our walls and marketing materials. The bird is terribly popular with the children and provides a strong visual association, making our tuition centre memorable; people may see the bird a hundred times over the years, not really taking it in, but when the time comes for them to look for a tutor, they know where to come.
The market’s rebirth, if and when it comes along, will need to be carefully managed, but when it does I’m sure we all hope it’s a great success. We all like living in a town with a market; let’s show Urmston’s hardworking stallholders some support.