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Indie York Christmas Market case study

York’s bustling Christmas market draws in visitors from far and wide who visit the city year after year to soak up the festive atmosphere.

For 2023, Indie York, which represents the city’s independent business community, has offered its members the chance to promote their brand in front of thousands of visitors to one of the UK’s best-loved Christmas event, by taking turns to occupy a cabin at the heart of the York Christmas Market on St Sampson’s Square. This has been made possible through support from Make It York, who organise the York Christmas Market.

Selected at random from Indie York members wishing to take part, 13 businesses have taken over the stall for a few days each throughout November and December. Visitors to the market have had the chance to peruse everything from Brew York’s craft beers to sweet treats from Little Blondie Bakehouse, and art prints from The Braithwaite Gallery.

Run by a board of independent business owners since 2016, Indie York represents over 200 of York’s independent businesses, a sector which represents 65% of the city’s business community. As well as promoting indie quarters like Fossgate, Bishopthorpe Road and Micklegate, Indie York produces an online directory and free paper map which showcase York’s unique alternatives to big-name high street outlets.

Grow Your Business - Indie York at York Christmas Market.

Rae and Rae, a family-run opticians based on Bishopthorpe Road were one of the businesses taking part in the stall, promoting their services and selling a range of designer glasses chains from fellow York indie business, Coti.

Georgia Rae, optometrist and co-owner of Rae and Rae opticians, said:

The Indie York stall has been a great way to build our brand and reach a whole new audience. As a small family business, we wouldn’t be able to afford a full-time cabin at the market, but this has allowed us to promote our brand to thousands of visitors.

“Our permanent store on Bishopthorpe Road is currently closed for refurbishment so hosting the stall here at the market has allowed us to mitigate some of the impact of this temporary closure, which has been a great added benefit for us.”

Alice Bentley, from Indie York, said:

As well as showcasing their own products, our members are supporting their indie peers by distributing Indie York maps, signposting visitors to the Christmas market to our member businesses all over the city, both in the city centre and in its surroundings. Last Sunday, we handed out over 1000 maps to visitors, and we’ve become unofficial shopping guides, passing on our top tips for independent Christmas shopping.

“Several of the businesses who have hosted a pop-up in our cabin this year are already looking to try out a Christmas market cabin of their own next year, thanks to the opportunity we were able to provide them to try it out.”

Alice explained that the cabin provided an opportunity for businesses which usually do not have a city centre presence, such as Fulford-based Jorvine and Clifton Green’s Birdie’s Perch, to benefit from the increased seasonal footfall in the city, thanks to events like the annual market.

“We’re really grateful to Make it York for supporting us to host this stall and help our wonderful independent businesses showcase the creativity, enterprising spirit and endless variety that makes York’s independent sector so special.”

Also see

Economic Growth Team

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA