A MORPETH marketing initiative has been hailed a success as shoppers sampled a taste of Italy.
The Mamma Mia Italian food market came to Morpeth for three days last week to kick-off a series of promotional events organised by the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade.
Despite poor weather, traders were delighted as customers turned out to try their wares and other businesses reported increased footfall.
As well as food stalls, there was a cavalcade of classic Lambretta and Vespa scooters, an Italian ‘living statue’ and musical entertainment.
Ken Stait, who heads the chamber’s marketing team, said: “The Italian market was part of our strategy to start holding events to get people back to the town.
“People say ‘why is it always a food market?’. We have to go with what is available and what is easy to deliver. With the limited budget of less than £300, we managed to put on a market at the last minute.
“It went very well and we are trying to replicate that and bring in some more marketing opportunities.”
Chamber members agreed that the event was of value.
Lynn Oxley said: “There is no better place to be than speaking to people in the Market Place who are coming in and out of the market. I learnt more in half an hour about where people are coming from and what they are looking for in our town than I did running around the shop for two years.”
Traders were told that the 250 entry forms in a prize draw for a hamper, which was won by Rob Coulson of Morpeth, will also provide information about customers.
However, concerns were raised at the £500 charge levied by Northumberland County Council for the use of the Market Place.
Les Sage said: “I was disappointed that the county council charged £500 for that market.
“For a one-off thing I think the Italians should have been given the opportunity to show what they can do and what they have got.”
A council spokeswoman said the charge covered a three-day event.
She said: “We worked with the managers of the Italian market to come to an agreement on a price that would both attract them to come to the town and cover the council’s costs for holding the market, including cleaning and the services of the market officer.”