This is the name of a new initiative introduced by the Sharing the Success team as part of the Leeds LEGI endeavours to produce a more enterprising culture. Notwithstanding the awful pun it may prove to be an interesting and potentially useful scheme. ‘Bazaar’ is a Persian word meaning a ‘permanent market area’. It will be interesting to see just how permanent this stall is.
‘How Bizaar’ invites people to test trade their products or services on a market stall in the very wonderful Leeds Kirkgate Market, rent free for 12 weeks. They get additional business support and the usual bells and whistles you would expect from publicly funded business support programmes. According to publicity the stall is open to anyone (surely there should be some geographical criteria related to super output areas), and existing market traders are free to use it to test out opportunities to diversify.
Presumably if the test trade period goes well entrepreneurs will be helped to establish their business on a more permanent footing, either in the market or elsewhere.
Leeds market is a hot bed of enterprise. Mostly very well managed stalls shifting serious units. They have to be, as the footfall is enormous and stalls are not cheap. Some have been run by family’s for decades. It is a very competitive environment in which to trade. If you have the right products at the right price you can do well. Leeds market is primarily a food market with some electrical and houseware stalls. Customers of the market are usually looking to make pragmatic purchases at low cost.
So imagine you run one of these stalls in the market working hard to make a living. And imagine that ‘the council’ takes over a stall nearby and makes it available to people to sell their products, alongside yours, without paying any rent. The council also pays the salary of full time workers to staff the stand.
The optimist in me would say great! More traders and more publicity means more footfall which means more business for all. The financial manager in me would be screaming ‘Just what I need – competition that is being subsidised by the organisation that collects my rent’.
But let’s stand back a bit and ask ourselves about the kind of entrepreneur who will benefit from this service. Clearly they must already have a product or service that they are ready to merchandise. ie they are quite a long way down the enterprise journey. It might give a leg up to those who are already enterprising.
The footfall at the market must represent the right demographic for the products and services that you are test trading. Putting the right product in the wrong marketplace because of the ‘allure of free’ could be disastrous.
They must be able to effectively compete – within three months – in one of the most competitive markets in the country. Many of the market stands have evolved a product range and merchandising layouts over years to optimise sales. Will a kind of ‘jamboree bag’ stall with high turnover of goods and services be able to compete? Most of the people that I know who use the market go to buy specific things from specific stalls. It is not a destination for window shoppers or impulse buyers.
You must be able to handle some quite sophisticated calculations to get any useful data from your test trading period. Is business building or not? Is my reputation spreading? What costs are currently being externalised – rent, power, wages, marketing? To what extent is success or failure down to this location? To publicity generated by LEGI? If I move premises will the customer base I have found at the market come with me? In short what will my test trading experience really tell me about the viability of my business idea.
My biggest concern though is that it will provide yet more assistance to those who are already enterprising. And in the long run making it easy for people to start a business does them few favours.
It will be interesting to see how the project unfolds and I wish it well.
KioskKiosk is a similar market stall concept being tested in London. The kiosk and concept was developed by Wayne Hemingway and looks visually strong. Let’s hope that the design ethic at How Bizaar manages to compete.
New Sugar is another really interesting web based response to the challenge of giving newbie entrepreneurs (in this case designers) a platform to showcase their talent.