Steve Pickering, Market Manager at Warrington, is a bit of a local personality around town and his friendly face and pinstriped suit pop up in many different marketing guises. His enthusiasm for his town and market is infectious and this shows in the effort that he puts in to attract new and existing customers to visit the large, indoor market.
When he invited me up to experience his recent Time Travel Convention, my curiosity got the better of me. Warrington centre is currently undergoing a major redevelopment phase and this directly affects the indoor market. Building work is taking place alongside it and many shoppers are under the impression that the market is closed. As part of the redevelopment, the market will be relocated to temporary premises in 2017 whilst the existing site is flattened before relocating within the new development.
The Time Travel Convention was Steve’s brainchild and was based on the fact that in the film Back to the Future II, the main characters travel in to the future to October 2015! Steve is an avid film fan and the Sci- Fi idea followed on from his Comic Con (comic hero convention to the uninformed) event that he ran as part of his Love Your Local Market celebrations in May. This took place before Manchester’s Comic Con and proved to be an ideal trial run for some of those involved. It was the biggest event that the market had been involved with and traders were delighted with the footfall and ensuing sales.
Time Travel Convention: Despite being a grey, drizzly day, attendance to the event was high and it was easy to find out where it was all happening as Warrington Radio’s mobile roadshow were blasting out 80s tunes. The streets leading up to the indoor market housed a number of stalls selling specialist Sci-Fi products. A miniature steam train was offering rides to children across a short section of track and to tie in with the BTTF theme, they were aiming to get it to travel to 8.8mph (far more realistic than the 88mph that the Delorean needed to achieve in the film) Characters from the film, including Doc and Marty McFly orchestrated this ‘experiment’ and kept visitors entertained.
Timelords, Stormtroopers, Daleks, Spidermen, terminators and Cybermen were just some of the characters that interacted with visitors outside and there was many a delighted child’s face to behold. The majority of the activity took place towards the entrance to the market hall and further reference to the convention was made inside. A number of vacant stalls were dressed up and a DeLorean which had been styled to replicate the one driven by Marty McFly along with a clock tower and other film memorabilia were available to view. A popular attraction with teenagers was a replica Iron Throne from the Game of Thrones series.
An animated dog on a tricycle welcomed visitors to the indoor market and shoppers could also be entertained by some clever sleight of hand magic by ‘Laurel and Hardy.’ A classic car convention had also piggy backed on to the event and several were parked up to view in one of the central parts of town.
All in all, for someone who knows absolutely nothing about Sci-Fi and probably hasn’t seen the Back to the Future films since they were first released, I thoroughly enjoyed my day out. There were loads to see and do to keep visitors of all ages entertained. I also managed to purchase my weekly fresh produce, including some fresh clams which are impossible to find where I live, but that’s another story entirely!