SAINT JOHN – The historic Saint John City Market is looking to get more people through its doors, and it has brought two entrepreneurs on board to help them do it.
City Market Manager Dave Kirkpatrick has hired Momentum Canada, a Saint John-based business development company founded by Joanna Killen and Corey Dugas, to help create strategies both for the market and some of its vendors.
“We’re helping Dave and a few vendors here with their social media, business development and strategy. We really noticed through conversations with Dave, that a lot of people have been working in their business for a very long time,” says Killen.
“We want to try and help them come out and look at their businesses a little more strategically and do a bit of planning around how they are going to market to their customers here in Saint John and really start to bring more customers into the market more frequently.”
Momentum will help the Saint John City Market with things like growing its social media following and visibility. They will also support the market is hosting new events, such as the upcoming evening show for the Quality Block Party music festival this Friday. Momentum will also survey residents about what they want from their City Market.
“We really want to know from Saint Johners what is it that drives you here and what drives you away so we can really start to address some of those things and make it a really great experience for everybody,” says Killen. “All the information will be collected and brought back to Dave for that.”
Momentum will also work with some of the Market’s vendors individually.
“For the vendor side of things, we’re really looking at it from the perspective of what’s missing. So, if you have great social media, that’s awesome, but you need some help getting broader marketing out there, we’re going to assist with that,” says Killen. “But it’s on a client-by-client basis with those vendors and really helping them one-on-one with their challenges.”
Kirkpatrick says the end goal of working with Momentum is to make the City Market a central “hub” in Saint John. He wants to help clear up some of the misconceptions about the market and make it a destination place for grocery shopping.
“My end-goal would be to have the majority of the people in the south-end peninsula shopping at the Saint John City Market as their grocery store,” he says. “I want to change misconceptions that it’s difficult to access, that there’s a limited amount of items here and pricing. Our prices match your local box stores,” he says. “But above and beyond, I just want to get the story out that our vendors care.”
Kirkpatrick also sees an opportunity for the market to become a cultural spot outside of food. He cites the upcoming Quality Block shows as an example. The market will host music performances over the course of two days on South Market Lane just outside the market. Sankara will serve food and Picaroons and Java Moose will serve drinks.
“With Quality Block party, I hope it will do two things. It will create a great vibe for uptown Saint John, provide some great entertainment, but also expose some new people to the market that maybe don’t come here so that they say, ‘wow, I can do all these things and I can buy all these things at the market,’ ” he says.
Killen, who worked in the City Market herself back in the day, hopes Momentum can help it reach its full potential.
“I just see this place as being the oldest incorporated city market, the most historical place that drags in two-million people a year. Everyone should be thriving. We need to build these folks up and help them be the most successful they can be,” she says. “I think that’s what I’m really excited about. No matter what challenges that Dave has or anybody that we work with has, we want to be the ones who help them get to the next level.”