The campaign for Dumfries Makers Market began when KIRSTEN, who owns a local business Måla Interiors and is also involved with the campaign to restore the town fountain, posted a rant on her Facebook account about the lack of affordable retail premises in the town centre. It appeared to touch a nerve as almost 300 people "liked" the post,170 commented and over 150 shared. PRESS, both local and national and ITV Border News have all featured our story. It appeared that many other local makers and producers have also found themselves unable to obtain a retail premises due to the exorbitant rents that landlords want to charge. Therefore, despite the council rates freeze, the shops remain empty and run down.
LEAH is a designer/maker based in Dumfries & Galloway and teaches creative & sewing workshops at our studio at Solway House in Dumfries. She has a family history of local retail within Dumfries. She has previously organised the hugely successful and award winning Lady Magpie & Me, a craft, vintage & artisan foods market that welcomed over 5,000 visitors through the doors in the two years it was held in Castle Douglas Town Hall. Leah has wanted to bring a street market to Dumfries for many years, but it was just too huge an undertaking for her to do it alone, so the idea was put at the bottom of a rather large list of project ideas.
As a result of the Facebook post, Leah and Kirsten decided to team up and see if their shared vision could become a reality, with the support and involvement of other organisations, community groups and local businesses, working collaboratively to make it happen.
Community Consultation Event at The Stove Network
On 24th January 2018 they conducted a community consultation event to share their vision to the people of Dumfries, just over 80 people attended on the night at The Stove Network. It seemed it was a room full of positivity and possibility. We wanted to try and involve as many people as possible in the conversation so we broadcast on our Facebook. The live event was watched by 1,000 people and had nearly 3,000 views in the days that followed, which still grows each day. On the night we launched a survey to reasearch and establish if there was a need and desire for the vision we proposed at the community event. The online survey which we conducted between 26.1.18 and 11.2.18 and the results are based on the responses from 1108 completed surveys, showing overwhelming support for our plans. Views have also been sought regarding the market at other community events, on social media and at networking groups via word of mouth and they have been extremely positive. Interest has been expressed by a wide variety of organisations, craft and food producers, entrepreneurs and the local community. We already have over 160 registers of interest for both involvement in the market and also opportunities within the community space.
In April 2018, we formally constituted The Guild (Dumfries) C.I.C and registered as a not-for-profit, social enterprise in Scotland, Company Number: SC595249. The Guild wants to reclaim an empty shop and make it a true community asset, an indoor community space offering multiple, affordable, rentable retail concessions as part of a collective of local makers, producers, artists and independent businesses providing a town centre presence with minimal overheads.
We are different from a for-personal-profit enterprise as our focus is on providing a platform, delivering projects and events that will help our community develop and increase its impact on the economy of the region of Dumfries and Galloway and enhance the region’s reputation as a destination of choice for lovers of locally made quality arts and crafts, artisan goods and ethical food production. We intend to reinvest profits we make into our community by improving and extending the range of facilities and services we provide. The project’s mission is to create a central place where people can meet, work and collaborate, managed for the benefit of the community rather than for an owner or shareholders.
The Guild will also produce DUMFRIES MAKERS MARKET. We applied for a Market Operators License and a Roads Occupation Permit from our local council in April 2018, we are currently awaiting a decision on these applications and patiently wait to secure permission to host our monthly street market festival on the second Saturday of every month in Dumfries town centre.
We have identified a stunning, characterful listed building in the town centre which we hope will become our community space. The building has lain empty for the past 6 years and needs quite a considerable amount of work to bring it up to standard. We have a superb architect on board to design the layout of The Guild including the retail space, studios, workshops and community café. We’re about to commence with remedial work in order to bring the building up to a useable standard and sign our rental agreement. We hope to be able to bring you more exciting news about this over the coming weeks.
We have been overwhelmed with messages of support and positivity from our community and local businesses, all over the region in response to our campaign since it began in January. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their encouragement and enthusiasm, it's this that has kept us going through the ups and downs, determined to not give up until we make it happen.