A new business is helping to boost trade at markets across the UK with backing from Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF).
Market Mouse Ltd has developed a website which incorporates a pitch locator software system that enables market operators to advertise stall space.
The software identifies market operators’ commodity needs and alerts traders looking for stall availability by price, location and the goods needed.
Traders can then choose available pitch space at markets where there is little or no competition for their goods.
Over 100 markets are already included in the online directory and each has the option of overseeing its own page to upload additional information and promote events.
Market Mouse has been set up by husband and wife team Larry and Colette Murphy. MSIF has provided a £9.5k loan through the Start Up Loans Programme which has been used to develop the website and assist with start-up costs.
Larry Murphy said: “I have over 30 years’ experience in town centre management and the retail market trade and came up with the idea for Market Mouse while I was working at Widnes Market. I saw that income was being lost by both market operators and traders because there wasn’t a platform to advertise available pitch space in real time and alert traders with the right goods.”
“Our online directory will include retail, wholesale, farmers and flea markets and also craft fairs, food festivals, vintage/antique fairs and car boot sales."
“We use social media to promote directly to consumers publicising special events and other news." “The website also contains an advertising portal for suppliers to the industry including sign writers, tarpaulin services, counter suppliers and electricians. It also hosts an event and entertainments booking service which allows market operators to book events in advance. This can make markets more appealing to visitors and help increase footfall.”
“We are delighted with the support MSIF has provided. It is extremely difficult for start-up companies to get funding and without them we may not have got the business off the ground.”
MSIF investment manager Paul Humphray said: “I think Market Mouse is a fantastic idea and there is nothing else out there like it. Markets, like a lot of retail outlets have experienced a decrease in footfall due to the recession and the rise of online shopping."
“Market Mouse will help to promote an alternative shopping experience to consumers and ensure that market operators and traders can communicate to optimise joint opportunities.”
MSIF is an approved delivery partner for the Start Up Loans Programme. The government-funded scheme provides loans to assist with start-up costs as well as free mentoring support, and exclusive business offers from partners such as Regus, Paypal, eBay and Intuit.