The Rare Brand Christmas Market at Goodwood Racecourse will help put the soul back into shopping.
Founder Emma Schwarz believes that shopping is an art. She doesn’t believe it is about heaping up purchases on your credit card in an homogenised city centre, after which you wander away, slightly deflated, wondering what on earth that was all about. Emma aims to make shopping once again a fun, individualised experience – a bring-a-friend social occasion based on the chance to get to know the makers and to support small businesses at the same time: “We don’t want people thinking ‘I have got to get this or that for this person or that person and so I have got to resort to clicking on the internet’. I want to encourage people to grab a couple of friends and make use of our ticket offer (two for one on tickets bought online at www.therarebrandmarket.co.uk) and make an event of it and actually make shopping pleasurable again.”
Online shopping and shopping amid all the high-street chain stores takes all the fun out: “But if you come to our bustling market, you are supporting small industries and you come away feeling delighted with your purchases because you have had a chance to speak to the people behind them and because you know you are making a difference.”
The Rare Brand Christmas Market takes place at Goodwood Racecourse from Nov 16-18 from 9am-4pm (also Winchester Christmas Market 2017, Nov 30-Dec 1).
It will cater for all aspects of life style for all members of the family. This year’s market will also feature the chance to buy experiences ranging from a cookery class to massage and wine-tasking.
“Our first Christmas market was at the West Dean location. That was 2008 and we did it there for two years, and then we moved in 2010 to the racecourse. It has been a fantastic venue for us which is all under cover. One of the challenges of Christmas markets is that sometimes you have to resort to marquees or out of doors, and that can be difficult with the weather. But it is lovely to be all indoors at Goodwood. We are in the Richmond enclosure which has been designed for viewing the racecourse. It is glazed. Most of the exhibitors can’t believe the floor-to-ceiling glazing, and then you have got the glorious views. You are looking to the Downs and the valley on one side and then on the other side you are looking down to the sea.”
And the November timing is perfect: “Increasingly now, I think the middle of November is the right time. By the end of November, I think people are really wanting to be done, particularly if you have got overseas presents to buy, and also people’s social calendars get so full for December that November is the best time.”
This year, Emma is expecting 135 brands, up 18 on last year. 30-40 per cent of those are repeat visits; 60-70 per cent are first-timers.
“Generally our businesses are businesses in their first one to three years of trading. After three years, they move on to being a wholesaler or having a shop or having a big online business, and they leave us. We are about the businesses that are very new, and actually the cottage industry is booming in this country. It really is. The most typical business for us is a mother with young children, someone who has got massive creative potential but is struggling to get into the workplace and find a job that allows her to have time with the children. And so she is someone who really is working at a kitchen table creating a business with the children in the background.”