The pop-up shops preventing a village from becoming 'dead' zone
Artisan makers are helping a tiny village keep its community alive
Curious shoppers are flocking to the tiny village of Burnham Deepdale, on the
north Norfolk coast, to visit the artisans taking over pop-up shops in Dalegate
Now in its second year, the season launched last week and will run until the
end of October.
Four new independent businesses, selling everything from beer to buttons,
will take over the shops each week to encourage both local consumers and
tourists to visit the area, bringing much-needed revenue to the village’s
permanent shops and nearby tourist destinations.
Polly Warnes, founder of Polly’s Feltz, took over one space last week,
selling her handmade range of felt bags.
“I knit the material for felting while I’m in the shop,” she says.
“When people see how much effort goes into them, and talk to me about the
process, they fall in love with the products.”
The bags start at £42, and each one takes three days to make. “During a
good week at a pop-up, I can sell 10 bags,” says Warnes, who usually offers
her wares for sale at craft fares and via her online shop.
“The great thing about having an actual shop is that I don’t have to take
everything down at the end of the day – the way you do with a stall. And I only
live 12 miles away in Fakenham, so it’s easy for me to get to the shop.”
Alison Priestley, founder of Ruff & Tumble, makes towelling dog coats that
can dry a wet pet in half an hour. As the owner of four dogs, she came up with
the idea after struggling to keep her soggy pets off the furniture.
“They love going into the sea and I was permanently trying to dry them,”
Priestley ran three pop-ups in 2014 at Dalegate Market and will operate two
more this year. “Lots of people are on holiday with their dogs so they buy
our coats to protect their hotel room or caravan or holiday home from wet,
smelly dogs,” she says. “Being this close to the sea is perfect.”
During a week in a Dalegate pop-up, sales will rise as much as 100pc, she
says, and the pop-up also drives online sales in the following weeks. “People
tell their friends or the coats are spotted on dogs, and that is fantastic.”
Jason Borthwick, 43, a fourth-generation farmer on neighbouring Deepdale
Farm, introduced retail innovations to the village in 2000 to help diversify
away from arable farming.
“When I started helping my dad on the farm, 99pc of our revenues came from
traditional farming. Now it’s more like 50pc,” he says.
The pop-up beach huts in Dalegate Market have been built on the site of an
old garage and workshop. “My dad had sold the garage on because we didn’t
want to be running a petrol forecourt,” he explains.
“But when the owner decided to sell up, we saw an opportunity to buy the
Housing developers were planning to turn the land into executive homes for
City workers seeking a country pad. “This place is known as Chelsea-on-Sea,”
says Borthwick. “We need more second homes like a hole in the head.”
The village of Burnham Deepdale is home to just 30 residents year-round, but
the population rises to 200 once the second-home-owners arrive during holidays.
“We wanted to make sure that we had a shop where locals could buy bread
and milk, and we introduced a campsite and backpackers’ hostel to attract
tourists,” says Borthwick, who is intent on building an entrepreneurial
ecosystem where all businesses create more revenue for their neighbours.
The local supermarket, Keshco’s, is a family business operated through the
Nisa franchise, which allows the shop to sell competitively-priced staples
alongside produce from the local area.
“We wouldn’t let a pop-up come in that would take revenue from the
supermarket,” says Borthwick. “But if, say, there was an artisan
chocolate maker, that’s a different proposition from ordinary confectionery and
we’d love that.”
Over the summer, the village will play host to a range of “retail theatre”
companies, Borthwick says. “There will be chainsaw carvers coming later in
the year and makers that run workshops – Black Cat Buttons recently did one on
making your own button box.”
The annual Christmas market, which has been running for seven years, has been
a resounding success for Burnham Deepdale, attracting visitors from all over the
country to its 100-plus stalls.
Borthwick hopes that the summer pop-ups will help to bring in revenue during
the rest of the year.
“People are already coming back each week to find out what’s new,” he
says. “You walk down a high street and it’s all the same shops. By inviting
these small artisans and independent retailers, we’re giving people something
The shops are not run for profit – the spaces cost between £50 and £150 for
the week, depending on the time of year. “It’s about giving this place
exposure,” says Borthwick. “We don’t want to become just another dead
Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor - The Telegraph