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Grantham mum launches virtual marketplace to boost small businesses and struggling stallholders

A Grantham mum has set up an online marketplace to help small business owners who have been struggling with the impact of Covid-19.

With the majority of fairs and markets cancelled this year, many local business owners have taken a big hit after being unable to sell their goods at such events.

Rachel Bailey, who lives on the Alma Park estate, was determined to shine a spotlight on the challenges small businesses are facing.

Rachel Bailey with her five-month-old daughter Ellie. (42779590)
Rachel Bailey with her five-month-old daughter Ellie. (42779590)

She set up her own online marketing business ‘Forever Living’ when she went on maternity leave from her care assistant job five months ago.

The 29-year-old wanted a way to help other local small business owners in the same position and bring them together in one single place.

So last month, Rachel, who is mum to five-month-old Ellie, set up a virtual stallholders’ Facebook group and invited individuals to sell their goods to buyers online.

Since its ‘opening day’ on October 1, the group now has 80 stalls rangingfrom skincare, hampers, weight loss, metal artwork, soaps, wax melts and a variety of creative handmade goods from local sellers.

Rachel has been overwhelmed by the response.

She said: “We now have nearly 700 members. I didn’t expect it to grow this big but it’s great.

“It has given other small business owners another platform to showcase what they can do during these challenging times.”

Lisa Watson set up ‘Nan’s Nice Cakes’ from Grantham in 2011 and joined the group to seek support and to network after Covid-19 had a big impact on her business.

She said: “I make all types of cakes and bakes to order. Covid badly effected my wedding cake side of the business, as due to restrictions most have had to postpone or even cancel. This has had a big impact on all types of celebration cakes I had booked in, too.

“The group is great for networking with other local small businesses who may not know about us, and supporting each other is vital during these uncertain times. I have made several purchases off people in the group and I will look on there for gifts before looking elsewhere.”

Caroline Lewis, of SilverLincsDesigns, sells handmade sterling silver jewellery. She has praised the group for giving small businesses a “fantastic local platform”.

She added: “We are all struggling as the fairs we would normally attend, which drive more business to our websites, are mostly cancelled. I’ve had one order so far, but she promises I’m on her Christmas list for more.

“As I give 10 per cent of profits to Grantham Foodbank, where I volunteer three days each week, any extra business for me generates more money for them too. It’s a win-win for Grantham locals.”

Fellow small business owner Lottie Green has also already made several sales since becoming a stall holder on the group with her‘Blissful wax melts and more with Lottie’ business.

She said: “Rachel invited me to become a stallholder to try and expand my business. I have had a few sales and it has helped to build up members in my group and my Instagram followers.

“There’s lots of competition but I’ve always exceeded my best. I’m happy to have been given this opportunity to join the group because it has helped me to engage with other members on Facebook.

“Covid-19 has been hard but I’m happy with the support I’ve had from the group. I have big plans for the future of the business. We will not let Covid defeat us.”

Helen Wright set up MW Elegance with her sister-in-law, Janine Maxhado, during lockdown, after being furloughed from work and on maternity leave.

Helen said: “We needed to keep ourselves busy and still contribute to the economy.

“We specialise in crafting products with Epoxy resin. We have been selling online to friends, family and then expanding to other sale networks in Grantham and surrounding areas.When we saw the advert to join the Christmas stallholders business page we got in contact and were given a stall number and we have been advertising all of our products on the page.

“We have had some sales from it so we think it was a really good idea. The page still needs sharing more so people are aware and can further help other small businesses.”

Rachel provides daily updates, support and advice to the stallholders.

She added: “Anyone interested in becoming a stallholder – they don’t need to be selling Christmas items – can message me through the Facebook group or on Facebook Messenger. They will then be given a stallholder number which will allow them to post in the main page where all the buyers are.

“Potential buyers can just request to join the group where they will be able to browse through all the stalls, which is updated daily.”

For more information on becoming a stall holder or a buyer, search for Grantham small business, Christmas stalls, on Facebook.

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