Wool market 'thriving' three months after opening

Doncaster mum Cheryl Finnegan had never been in business before.

By David Kessen
Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 10:11 am
Updated Friday, 16th August 2019, 11:45 am

But with the office where she was working as her regular job set to close and relocate away from South Yorkshire, she made the decision to set up on her own, selling maternity wear.

Last week saw her first week in operation – as she become the latest addition to the retail offer at the revamped Doncaster Wool Market.

Five months on from the venue re-opening after a major transformation as part of a £7 million markets redevelopment, businesses are positive about trade at the venue.

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Cheryl Finnegan, pictured outside her new Maternity and Nursing wear boutique, Beau Bump. Cheryl, is pictured holding a maternity dress by Tiffany and Rose. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-06-19-BeauBump-1

Cheryl arrived at the venue three months after it first opened, after it was unveiled to great fanfare at the start of April.

She refutes any suggestion that the upmarket scheme will would not work in Doncaster, but would like to see more family-orientated entertainment on the venue’s stage.

Cheryl opened up her business, Beau Bump, on June 22. She is currently working seven days a week, spending four days on the market and three at her office job. On top of that, she is also a governor at Carr Lodge School. She employs a member of staff to work on the unit on the days she is not there.

She decided on her plan because she had found it difficult to go shopping for maternity and nursing wear when she had her two children, now aged four and eight.

Lucy Fisher and Dave Allen, of Cushion Queen, Doncaster Wool Market

She said: “I came into the wool market for a coffee with my husband, and could see the shops. That was when I had my vision of how I would like my unit to look, and decided that I wanted it in here.

“I was offered a good rate for the first couple of years as a new trader, and I thought I would be silly not to try it now. I’ve not done retail before so it is a steep learning curve, but I’m doing this on the basis of my own love of shopping and what I felt was missing when I was pregnant.

“I wanted my shop to look like a pop-up boutique, the sort of thing you find in a department store sometimes. Also, there is Stork, over the road, selling prams, and a stall next to mine selling babywear – it puts me slap-bang in the middle of other shops catering for my target audience.

“I don’t think I would have come here if it had still been the old market – I didn’t want a market stall. I wanted something more like a shop.

Kim Crooks, of Pink Ladies accessories, Doncaster Wool Market

“The set up costs were minimal, and without that I would have struggled to start up.

“There is a lot of entertainment going on here, but I would like to see more of that aimed at children and families, not just bands.”

Kim Crooks, who runs Pink Ladies accessories from a nearby stall in the Wool Market, moved in from a previous site at the Corn Exchange. She said she was seeing few customers at the Corn Exchange, which until recently was surrounded by scaffolding.

“I moved across here, and I’m doing a lot better,” she said.

Cheryl Finnegan, pictured in her new Maternity and Nursing wear boutique, Beau Bump. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-25-06-19-BeauBump-3

“But there are days when it is quiet. People are not used to the market being open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Traditionally it was open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, but now the Wool Market is open every day except Mondays. Tuesdays are always busy and I think it’s started to get better and better. Things did tail off a bit after it had first opened, when everyone came to have a look what had been done here.

“It has been three months now, and business has been much better for me.”

Lucy Fisher and Dave Allen moved the Cushion Queen stall to the Wool Market from Crystal Peaks Market, on the outskirts of Sheffield.

Lucy said the age profile of visitors was much lower than it had been at Crystal Peaks. “There is a lot more footfall and it is vibrant and fresh. The initial big rush as fallen off, but it is still better footfall, and people are coming from outside town. We’re getting people from places like Sheffield and Goole. The entertainment is brining people in, but they use the food and drink stalls rather than ours.”

Jane O’Donnell, who runs Amelia Rose baby products stall, has also been in the market since day one. “It has taken off over the months,” she said.

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Jane O'Donnell, of Amelia Rose, Doncaster Wool Market