Alloa First

Alloa First

The Alloa First Marketplace was launched in 2021, offering local businesses the opportunity to create a free online shop to deliver their products to homes throughout Clackmannanshire.

What have you used this funding for and how has it helped strengthen the food and drink landscape in your region? Any standout success stories?

During 2021 we launched the Alloa First Marketplace, offering local businesses the opportunity to create a free online shop to deliver their products to homes throughout Clackmannanshire. This includes a dedicated food section where customers can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as produce from the local butcher and deli.

Before this, many Alloa based businesses had no online presence, keen to get online but worried about the costs of running their own webpage. We provided training and support to help them take those first steps and reach new customers. Some business owners report that customers have used the marketplace as a way to browse before visiting, discovering new products and places to shop. It’s been valuable for the older members of our community too, who may have mobility issues or need to self-isolate in these difficult times.

JW Aitken butcher and deli and Central Produce, a family run fruit and veg business, are among our most popular vendors, with 603 and 913 items sold last year respectively. Anna’s Larder, who also use the marketplace to sell fruit, vegetables, retro sweets and more, now feel confident enough to run their own Facebook page and advertise products online. Out of £3235 of sales since launch - £2204 have been food and drink related.

As well as our marketplace project, we were able to promote our local pubs, restaurants and cafes in the widely circulated Love Local Mag, which is distributed to every household in Clackmannanshire. Free adverts were designed for businesses and many chose to contribute editorials. Our summer issue featured a pub, restaurant and entertainment guide, a map with short summaries and contact information. We wanted to encourage people to try new establishments, with features on where to find the best cocktails, afternoon teas and some tasty recipes to try at home. 

Our participation in Scottish Food and Drink fortnight included daily Facebook posts promoting our cafes, restaurants and more. We commissioned some short videos to advertise what was on offer in Alloa town centre and encourage those outside to come and explore. It was great to see so much support for our local businesses on social media.

If your project is ongoing, how can others support what you do, and ensure the local region continues to thrive?

We plan to launch an app for our marketplace soon that will allow customers to shop on the go, as many of our customers are mobile or tablet users. Our motto has always been ‘shop local’. We can’t afford to let our small independent traders disappear, so supporting them is key whether through our marketplace or through increased footfall.

What is your advice for anyone who is interested in creating a collaborative regional food and drink initiative?

Without the support from the Regional Food fund we would not have been able support our local food & drink providers with digital tools to grow their business alongside the local marketing campaign to promote them. This was especially important given the challenges presented by Covid restrictions on many of our local pubs and cafes.

What are your hopes for the future of local and regional food and drink in Scotland?

Many businesses found themselves forced to diversify throughout the past 2 years and began offering delivery services and takeaways. We’ve noticed that many of them are continuing to do this and have managed to adapt to the changing climate. Our hope is that these new strengths will lead to further success and the reopening of town halls and community centres will encourage the return of food and drink events (such as the upcoming Clackmannanshire Whisky Festival this April).

This campaign has made us aware of other opportunities to promote our local food and drink offer to the local community and wider area. We will definitely be repeating our Scottish Food and Drink fortnight campaign on Facebook this year.