Glyndwr University

Glyndŵr University helps local entrepreneur

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Glyndŵr University Conferences helps local entrepreneur develop her thriving Baby and Children’s Market business by providing the ideal venue and staff support.

Here she tells us about growing the business and gives tips on marketing and hosting events.

This February marks two years since the start of our partnership with local mum Heather Marsh who runs a Baby and Children's Market franchise. She chose the Catrin Finch Centre on Glyndŵr University’s Wrexham campus as the very first venue for her new venture in 2013 and we are delighted that her company has gone from strength to strength, growing from 135 buyers and 12 stall holders at the first market to now averaging 250 buyers over 30 stalls.

The business model worked so well at the Catrin Finch Centre that she has expanded to other venues in Chester and Ellesmere Port, as well as our very own Northop campus where the market is held in the large sports hall.

Heather now regularly holds her nearly new sales throughout the year. The popular markets enable the local parental community to recycle their outgrown maternity to 8 years items by booking a stall with her and selling to other local parents. Stall holders pay £15 but then get to keep all of their profits. Entrance for visitors is just £1.

The events are so popular that stalls quickly sell out… so Heather’s tip is to be quick! Best selling items tend to be stairgates, jumparoos, moses baskets and baby carriers – expensive items that are only used for a short while.

The markets now also have a selection of unique businesses in the baby and children's industry showcasing and selling their products and services.

Glyndŵr University has been able to offer support by helping to promote the event and providing an event co-ordinator for the day. The opportunity to use facilities at the weekend and the free parking really appeals to visitors, and is unique for a town-centre location.

Heather says: "The venue is fantastic, we are regularly complimented on what a great choice we made. It's always clean and bright and just a nice place to be. The team are super-organised and everything is always as we asked for - this is particularly handy when I've had to make last minute adjustments to the table plan! We love that emails are always answered promptly and being able to put our banner outside is invaluable marketing."

A Mum of three, Heather finds the job works very well around her young children and she has fast become an expert in the world of baby paraphernalia! The idea to start the company came when she tried to book a stall at a local nearly-new sale to sell some of her children's outgrown items only to find that the stalls had sold out well in advance. Instead, she attended as a buyer and was overwhelmed the quality of items available and the obvious demand for pre-loved items.

She told us: "I wanted to be able to offer parents a family-friendly environment where they could come regularly to sell their toys, equipment and clothes to other parents and for these parents to come confident in the knowledge that they were getting top quality items at low prices. Lots of research later I decided that a franchise would be the best way forward and contacted Baby and Children's Market."

Heather found Facebook invaluable and says she doesn’t think the Markets could operate so well without it: "We advertise extensively within the local area with flyers and posters too but when asked where people have heard of us, Facebook wins hands down.

"We have a lot of stall bookings from word of mouth, and the banner outside the venue draws people in too. We also advertise in supermarkets, nurseries, pre-schools, toddler groups - anywhere parents congregate!"

Does she find organising the events stressful? "The most stressful part is worrying that people won't turn up to buy on the day. We do as much promotion as we can in the run up to each market but we can't make people come through the doors. The weather can be a great influence as can other local seasonal events such as school Summer and Christmas fairs.

"The organisation and running of the event is reasonably stress-free. We meet some really lovely people and I have made some great contacts. It can be a bit stressful during the first half hour if lots of people arrive at once but I can live with that kind of stress!"

Heather also has some words of advice for others looking to run an event or even start their own business: "Advertise, advertise, advertise. Also - be nice! We deal mainly with parents who want friendly emails, advice, a smile and a quick chat on the day. It costs nothing."

You can find out more about the markets at: www.babyandchildrensmarket.co.uk. To keep up-to-date with local events visit the Facebook page. 

The next Baby and Children’s Market takes place at Glyndŵr University Northop, Holywell Rd, Northop CH7 6AA on Saturday 30 January, from 10am until 2pm.

Then a week later at the Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndŵr University, Mold Road, Wrexham LL11 2AW on Saturday 6 February from 10am until 12pm.

Admission for both events is £1, with children going free.

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