More than 1,400 group members, plenty of fantastic gifts and treats on offer and a borough-full of happy customers. That’s the roundup of the first ever Wokingham Virtual Christmas Market, hosted by Wokingham Borough Council.
With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the council’s original plans of holding a crafts Christmas Market at Cantley Park were scrapped, leading the arts and culture team to think of creative ways of launching the market online.
The Facebook page features local independent businesses and a live shopping window for everyone to peruse at their leisure. Customers can put their feet up and tick off their Christmas list.
From festive bakes, personalised jewellery and custom-made home décor – the selection of items available is attracting shoppers from all around. Naomi Cardy, owner of Homes with Nomes is delighted with the project, which kept her busy throughout the lockdown period. “I couldn’t be happier with the market. It’s great to see the community and local businesses come together in times of crisis. Thank you for supporting local traders and businesses through what has been an extremely tough year. It is essential to the survival of so many of us.”
“In previous years stall holders have had to get up early, offload their car, erect a gazebo, set out their stall and spend hours outside in often freezing or wet conditions,” added Catherine Wilkins, owner of Cath’s Attic. “At the end of each day, we still had to pack back up and load the car, hopefully having made some money and shifted some stock.”
“Thanks to the online market and other virtual fairs, my business has grown and I’ve been able to make a larger profit than I would have done at physical events, saving me lots of time and logistics. The council has provided me with stats which I found useful to target my posts, and the fee I paid for a 6 weeks’ worth of an online market place is an extremely good value. Thank you for all the work that you have put into organising and promoting this market.”
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, said: “What a brilliant initiative our virtual market has proven to be. As always, Wokingham Borough Council officers have gone above and beyond for the residents of the borough, bringing alternative shopping ways, and spreading happy cheer for all to enjoy safely from their homes. I’d also like to extend my thanks to all of customers who have decided to support small businesses at this time of particular hardship. Your kind hearts and contributions meant that so many of them were able to stay afloat.”
“The market is one of the longest running, having launched on 13 November and staying open until 21 December. If you’re yet to treat your dearest and nearest, check out the page now.”