Oxford City Council and Independent Oxford have teamed up to pilot a new incubation space for independent and local start-ups in Oxford Covered Market.
The long-term aim is to provide a permanent unit in the Covered Market where new and innovative independent and local businesses can be promoted to a larger audience and nurtured to grow.
It is hoped that, over time, some of the start-ups may be able to grow to a point where they are able to take a unit in the Covered Market itself.
As an initial pilot until Christmas, the Indie Oxford Market Place will open on Saturday (24/11) in the former Dragon's Den unit of the Covered Market.
The unit will be filled with a collection of independent and local businesses that will be selling a wide range of Christmas gifts, including A Rosie Life, Amy Surman Jewellery, Cranston Pickles, Custom Made, Eagle Vintage, Emily Marston Ceramics, Hamblin Bread, Hilly Jo, Indigo, Jampuppy Design Studio, Jericho Design House, Joe Davis Art, Littlemore Candle Company, Oxford Alterations, Oxford Upholstery, Rachel Movitz Photography, The Wonky Food Co – and more to be announced.
Independent Oxford was created by Rosie Jacobs and Anna Monday in 2015 to celebrate and promote independent businesses in Oxford and Oxfordshire.
Eight new shops, including permanent and pop-up traders, have recently opened or are in the process of opening in the Covered Market. Fifty eight of the Covered Market's 61 units will be occupied in the run-up to Christmas.
Oxford City Council is investing £3.1m into the Covered Market, which is Grade II-listed, to secure its long-term future. The investment includes £1.8m to secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years, and £1.3m for internal refurbishment, decorations and new flooring.
The public realm around the Market Street entrance to the Covered Market could also see significant improvements in the coming years, in particular with Jesus College's redevelopment plans for Northgate House.
Oxford Covered Market, which first opened in November 1774, sells food, gifts, shoes, fashion, flowers and jewellery, and the market provides a unique showcase for the very best in local crafts, food and drink.
Anna Munday, co-founder of Independent Oxford, said: "Opening up the Indie Oxford Market Place is a very exciting development for us. For the last four years we've been championing the independent businesses in Oxford and know that this pilot shop will be a great way to take this to another level.
“We have a brilliant range of independents taking part from new businesses such as Emily Marston Ceramics, Eagle Vintage and Hamblin Bread to more established businesses from outside of the city centre who want to reach a new audience such as Indigo, Oxford Upholstery and Amy Surman Jewellery."
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Executive Board Member for Culture and City Centre, said: “This start-up space is yet another great step forward for the Covered Market. I urge everyone to come inside off the high street and pick up something independent and fun for themselves or a loved one .”