Unique pop-up event turns shopping into an art form at Goodwood

Emma Schwarz
Emma Schwarz

If you’ve ever felt that shopping simply isn’t joyful anymore, the team behind the Rare Brand Market at Goodwood Racecourse this month promise they’ve got exactly what you need.

Celebrating their tenth year, they are determined to show that shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. It really ought to be celebrated as an artform.

So says Emma Schwarz who is delighted to mark ten years of unique, bespoke, pop-up shopping.

This year’s Goodwood Christmas Market (www.therarebrandmarket.co.uk) – running on November 21, 22 and 23 – is billed as a marketplace for inspiration, a hub of ideas to celebrate the best products not found easily on every high street.

“We have been running the Christmas markets for ten years now, nine of them within the Goodwood estate, and the pop-up retail sector is really vibrant right now, really because of the thirst in this particular part of the country for something different. So many people are wanting access to good-quality, rare, independent brands, and those brands are incredibly strong in this area. We tried Winchester, and it is certainly not as strong as here.

“My feeling is that there is a complex array of factors here, such as the proximity to London and also such a good choice around here. The choice on the high street is very dominated by the large brands, and I think that creates a huge gap when it comes to Christmas shopping for the discerning customer who doesn’t want to go to the chain stores, for the people that really want to consider the purchases that they are making.

“But actually I would say that in my markets, only 60 per cent of the spend is on presents; 40 per cent of it is people buying for themselves. It is not just about people ticking off things on their Christmas lists.

“And I think we have also got a couple of magical factors, such as the fact that we are in the Goodwood estate, this very, very beautiful venue with the best views anywhere in England. It is one of the most beautiful places that you could possibly imagine, and we are up there hosting a market.

“And I think another magical factor is that so many Christmas markets are in marquees where there is a real lack of space. Actually having the market inside with lots of space is another big bonus that we have got.

“When we first started we had about 75 brands. We have got about 150 brands this year. The last couple of years we have had 120-125. The previous three years we had about 90 to a hundred. It is something that has grown very organically.

“We have got all the things you could want, the usual items, ladies’ accessories, men’s accessories, ladies and gentlemen’s clothing, beauty products, homeware and an amazing food hall. Our food hall is three times the size it used to be.

“And this year we have got a new zone which is about celebrating people that are perhaps a little bit hard to buy for, people who don’t necessarily need a product in their lives but would probably benefit from having an experience or maybe a very decent book to read… We have created this zone that will have a few experiences and a few authors.

“We would like to break 5,000 visitors this year. We are usually 3,500-4,000, but it has grown 25 per cent year on year for the last five years. We are hoping that the extra publicity because this is the tenth year will take us over 5,000 and really show that pop-up retail is a really, really vibrant scene.

“We sometimes feel shopping is not joyful enough anymore. Shopping should be pleasurable. We all should not resort to click-click shopping online at a time when the high streets and independents need us. Shopping should be a social and engaging experience, so try our markets, meet the makers and founders and support these emerging rare brands.”

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