A former north-east charity shop is now signposting the way to hand-crafted goods from across the region.
The Mercat in Banff has become home to an array of small independent businesses and is working to attract even more.
It already provides space and support for a number of crafters and artists, together with two second-hand, mainly offering vintage goods, crafts and souvenirs, as well as Banff’s only independent music shop.
The Mercat is also providing space for regular indoor markets and could soon become the home of a new local body to support small businesses.
It opened for an all-too-brief period in March this year, bringing the previously empty building at 57 Low Street back in to use, closing just a matter of weeks later, almost before those involved could get their feet under the table, due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Now, though, it is up and running once more and won’t be missed thanks to its new signage.
There have been improvements inside too, with fresh lighting and additional shelving for the use of the growing number of businesses – with all the work paid for thanks to a £500 donation from the local lodge of Masons.
Maggie Driver is a volunteer at The Mercat and anticipates the venture going from strength-to-strength in the coming months and years, despite the uncertain times.
She aid: “We currently have around 12 local crafters renting shelf space in the shop.
“We are in the process of forming a crafters association for the area and this will give them the much needed support they require to market theirs goods.
“We would like to say a big thank you to Banff Masons for their generous grant of £500.
“This has enabled us to buy new lighting, paint and new signage for the front of The Mercat.
“It’s looking super and you can’t miss it now thanks to the cracking new sign.”
The building, which had been empty since November last year, is also home to Mrs Driver’s Retro Rooms and her husband’s shops Retro Sounds, together with two other independent traders selling collectables.
Now it is to further expand and attract even more sellers following the spruce-up of the building.
Once coronavirus restrictions ease, the volunteer team taking forward the project hope to use The Mercat to host events too.
Banffshire’s provincial grand master, Eric MacGregor, said: “It was wonderful to help with a donation, which has enabled them to decorate and transform their building, as well as the new signage, which looks fantastic.
“The freemasons have a history of promoting deserving causes and Maggie Driver and the team of crafters and volunteers is one such cause.
“To assist local crafters is particularly suited to our historic involvement in Banff.
“Historically, local freemasons have raised funds for widows and in more recent times have disbursed funds to deserving causes in and around the Banffshire area.
“We look forward to assisting others in the future once we return to more happier times.”