Many of Cumbria Tourism’s member businesses are reporting a strong showing of national and international as well as resident support for local Cumbrian goods in the run-up to Christmas, after the organisation launched an online marketplace as part of its ongoing ‘Shop Local’ campaign.
The Virtual Christmas Market has been set-up to promote the very best of Cumbria’s local gifts, produce and vouchers to redeem for a range of experiences and breaks which are all bookable online, and builds on efforts made throughout 2020 by businesses who have changed the way they operate in order to remain viable during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
Local residents and visitors at home and abroad are being encouraged to support more than 60 different local businesses by purchasing Christmas gifts from the market rather than using large online retailers.
Running until the end of the year on visitlakedistrict.com, the market has won the praise of businesses from across the county, including Dalemain House and Gardens near Ullswater – whose homemade Christmas marmalade is one of the market’s most popular items. Dalemain owner Jane Hasell-McCosh, says, “The virtual market is a wonderful creation. It is fantastic to have a place where people can easily shop for quality, local goods, and we are delighted to be involved and to be in such great company. As our shop at Dalemain has been closed for a large part of the year, online sales have been vital. It has been wonderful to see them increase in the past few months, especially as Christmas approaches!”
Kendal-based business Cable and Blake says Cumbria Tourism’s work to raise awareness of local small businesses’ offerings has resulted in fresh, international orders. Creative Director Rachel Cabble says, “We create and sell locally produced Herdwick fabrics and products that have been inspired by the surrounding Lake District landscape, from our base in Kendal. We have a small shop but obviously this year we have been far more reliant on online sales of our fabric and Herdwick products like cushions, lampshades and hats. The lockdowns have given us more of an opportunity to focus on our marketing and online sales and Cumbria Tourism has been instrumental in helping us to grow locally, nationally and internationally. We have seen our online sales grow dramatically and we have also received our first international order from Italy, which was very exciting!”
The virtual market also gives people from further afield the chance to pick-up unique gifts, as well as having the flexibility to redeem vouchers for a range of experiences, dining out and visits on a future date.
Nicola Lawson, Curator, Keswick Museum, adds, “We are very grateful to Cumbria Tourism for the opportunity to get involved. This year has been challenging for all local businesses and attractions, but Cumbria Tourism has come up with a creative way of showcasing the fantastic things that are still on offer around the county, and we really appreciate the support everyone has shown us by adopting a museum object.”
The initiative is part of Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign, designed to help tourism and hospitality businesses affected by more than £1.7billion in lost income following the impact of Covid-19.
Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “I’m really pleased to hear such positive feedback from our member businesses about our virtual Christmas market and we’re delighted to hear that Cumbria fans from across the UK and even international friends, as well as local residents, are continuing to support businesses in the run-up to Christmas, as they have been doing since the first lockdown period began. I’d urge anyone who’s not taken a look at the market yet, to do so and pick-up a great gift while there’s still plenty of time.”
It is free for Cumbria Tourism members to get involved, with non-members able to set up a virtual stall for just £30. All businesses need is the ability to transact online, plus an image and 20 words to describe each item they are selling. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org