First virtual Caithness market creates community spirit
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Sales were boosted for a number of local crafters and businesses who took part in the first virtual Caithness market on Saturday.
Local artist Lisa Poulsen, who came up with the idea to launch the event on Instagram, said: "It went really well, much better than I ever imagined.
"I only put out feelers last Monday. I thought a few businesses would join me. We ended up with 35 businesses, so I was delighted with that. A lot of people reported that they had really good sales on the day."
She added: "It was quite a success – people enjoyed having something to look forward to at the weekend. It created community spirit which we are all needing just now."
A range of virtual stall holders took part in the day, including an artist in Orkney and a plant shop in Edinburgh, with a number of participants providing craft demonstrations as well as live question-and-answer sessions.
Local businesses also took part, including the Kiln Store and Bin Ends, with the Coo's Tail Gallery also giving tours of the shop and showcasing products available.
Explaining why she decided to launch the event, Lisa said: "The previous weekend I noticed that a few virtual markets were taking place on Instagram and I thought what a great idea.
Businesses and communities go together like neeps and tatties.
"Caithness produces some high-quality products – we could absolutely do it up here."
Such was its success that requests were made for the market to be made a monthly date and to try and introduce a second social media platform on Facebook.
Lisa, who runs Inspired by Caithness, has already announced that the next virtual market will take place on Saturday, June 6, between 11am and 3pm, on both Instagram and Facebook. After that it is intended to continue the event on the first Saturday of each month.
She explained: "All people need to do is follow the #CaithnessMarket hashtag from the comfort of their own homes on either social media platform where they can browse through all of the stallholders taking part."
Following the first market, the artist released a statement online asking participants to donate in some way to help the community and received agreement to this proposal almost immediately.
Lisa stated: "Businesses and communities go together like neeps and tatties. I’d love nothing more than to use #CaithnessMarket as an opportunity for positive community impact."
She plans to introduce a participant promise where all those taking part, except registered charities, agree to donating what they can afford to a local charity in order to join the official market list.
Each month businesses could either donate a percentage of market day sales, or raffle an item, or donate the equivalent cost of renting a community market stall – £10 minimum – to a local charity of their choice.
Donation amounts would be gathered after the market day to help record community impact.
She added: "There’s something special about businesses supporting communities, and communities supporting businesses. I guess it works both ways, and I feel quite strongly about our community being at the heart of #CaithnessMarket.”
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