As the annual celebration of small businesses comes around this weekend, we celebrate Small Business Saturday with a look at the small local traders taking part in Edinburgh’s Christmas Market.
For many of these small local businesses taking part in the Christmas Market brings profile and income which gives them the resource to operate year-round in Scotland’s capital.
Graeme Stark, Caravan of Courage is the first 100% plant-based hot food trader at the Edinburgh Christmas market. Vegans and indeed everyone can enjoy his fantastically naughty but nice junk food. Graeme explained why he’s taken a stall at the Christmas Market, “I’m a local from Edinburgh so have been to the market many times over the years, I feel it’s something to be massively proud of.
“The Caravan of courage has been going a couple of years now and it’s been an amazing experience being involved with Underbelly at the fringe, events and festivals and now the market.
“We’re on the southside of the gardens so pioneering a new area! We’re offering 100 % plant-based junk food - guilt free and sustainable. We do vegan dogs with Mac n cheese, plant-based burgers, locally sourced vegan haggis and crispy garlic potatoes - Please come down and say hello!”
Hannah Carpenter, Edinburgh Bow Tie Company is a veteran having taken part in the market for 5 years. She explains how they became regulars, “We first made the decision to take part after a particularly poor Christmas for the business. [That winter] we used the time to look into where we could be in order to put our brand in front of the Christmas shoppers, and the answer was obvious.
“We were able to get a pitch in the East Princes Street gardens for the following year. We approached a good friend of ours, Fiona Luing Jewellery, who we had worked with on a shared pop-up shop in the past, and she agreed to share the stall space with us, and thus the costs, and the man hours. It was all a great success, and provides the lion’s share of our income for the year. Hence doing it every year!”
“Along the way we have spoken to many other small Edinburgh businesses about the success of the market, and encouraged others to take part. The Edinburgh Natural Skincare Company have done the last two years. Diedododa Print Boutique have also shared a stall with Get Etch’d (both of whom we currently share a shop with).”
Hannah continued to talk about the effect year-round: “The wonderful thing about the market, for us, is that it allows us to showcase our brand to the people of Edinburgh, as well as the visitors. For years we dreamed of having a permanent location, but the reality of the Edinburgh retail scene is that it is incredibly difficult for indie brands to get a foothold on the high street. The Christmas Market gave us this retail opportunity. But is also a really fun market to be a part of. Everyone is happy and friendly, and full of Christmas cheer! What could be better!?”
Justin Jordan who is also based in Edinburgh added: “We have been fortunate to be trading at Edinburgh’s Christmas market since Underbelly started. We sell personalised Christmas decorations and we’re the first trader to bring this product to Edinburgh’s Christmas so showcasing this was something special. We also sell churros in a different hut.
“Before we started selling churros at Christmas we went to Inblan the number 1 churro equipment provider in Spain and paid to be trained in this. You will find very few traders UK wide who have done this! It is a hugely popular product at the market and each year it grows strength upon strength as we keep looking to improve and add different sauces to compliment the product.”
Hany Metawe who runs Waverley Café said; “We sell Himalayan salt and incense products. We have been participating in the Edinburgh Christmas market since 2014 and being one of the local businesses participating in Edinburgh Christmas market has a great impact on our turnover, giving over 16 jobs for two months added to giving work to contractors such as couriers, local delivery companies and joiners.
“I completely enjoy being in Edinburgh Christmas market every year and that gave us the chance to do other Christmas markets in the UK as well such as Newcastle, Chester, York, Winchester and London.”
Buck and Birch is a small company based in East Lothian set up by two partners, Tom Chisholm and Rupert Waites - who are both keen foragers. They use their passion and expertise to elevate overlooked and forgotten wild, Scottish ingredients into sophisticated food and drink. Buck and Birch's two main products are wild-inspired liqueurs - Aelder, an elderberry liqueur and Amarosa, a rosehip rum liqueur.
"The Christmas Market is a great way for us to showcase our ideas and products. Many people don't realise we are a small local company so it is great to actually meet market goers who know our products already, as well as new and international visitors. The market is a great deal of hard work, especially for a company our size, but it is an enjoyable, festive and productive time."
Edinburgh’s Christmas is estimated to bring £113million into Edinburgh’s economy. On top of local businesses selling their wares at the Market, a lot of the businesses at the market which aren’t from Edinburgh hire local staff providing 100s of jobs over the festive season.
Come and support your local traders. This year’s local traders include The Mack Shack, Alandas Fish and Chips, Taylors of Edinburgh funfairs, Aelder selling Scottish hand-crafted wild elderberry liqueur, The Churro Hut, Caravan of Courage, Balmoral Cashmere, The Fox Hat, Loch Ness Leather, Edinburgh’s Pickering’s Gin, Real Scot Shop Ltd – traditional Scottish gifts, Fiona Luing Jewellery, Diedododa, Edinburgh Natural Skincare Company, Waverely Café, Macraes of Edinburgh – Scottish made gifts, The Edinburgh Bow Tie Co., Isle of Kintyre cheese, Soap bomb and the Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar serving Hot Apple Toddy.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Market runs until Saturday 4 January.