Unique online business takes leap to open shop at Barrow Market

An online business that has enjoyed a period of growth has taken the leap to open a new shop at Barrow Market. 

Strange and Unusual, which started on Etsy in 2019, opened a stall at Barrow Market last week, selling punk and gothic fashion, jewellery, homeware and vintage items. 

Owner Rhiannon Owens, 26, moved to the area from South Wales with family. She now lives in Millom and was very taken by the potential for her business to thrive at Barrow Market. 

She opened her business selling handmade items on Etsy and attending local craft fairs, with her sights set on growing her business enough to be able to open her own shop in the future. 

Rhiannon, who is autistic, said she was inspired to start her own business after struggling to find fashion she liked that was affordable and had a good range of sizes. 

Rhiannon said: “I’ve loved anything gothic or alternative since I was a kid. I really got into horror films, the music, fashion and everything. It’s the way I like to express myself – it gives me confidence and I find it comfortable. 

“I struggled to find this kind of clothing in plus sizes when I was growing up, nowhere catered for me, so I want to be able to provide that for other people. The issues I encountered were a lack of sizes and affordability. I want to be the one stop shop for this kind of look in Barrow. I’m happy to help people try out a new look – you’d be surprised by how many people can pull it off.” 

Barrow Market is currently at the forefront of an exciting scheme to help regenerate the centre of the town, including the market, thanks to an award of £16 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The money will be used to transform the market into a destination that has shopping and experiences at its heart in order to attract more people to the town and to encourage them to stay for longer. 

The exterior of the building will be given a new look and a shared, accessible entrance created with arts and entertainment venue, The Forum, while improvements will be made outside to ensure the area has good transport links. 

Jacqui Armstrong, Market Manager, said: “We are excited to welcome another new trader to Barrow Market. The people of Barrow love a local, independent business, so we know that Rhiannon will be supported by the community. 

“We wish Rhiannon the best of luck with her business and hope that it brings a new crowd into the market who may not have considered shopping here before. Her business adds more variety to the amazing mix of shops we have in the market.” 

Rhiannon added: “Jacqui has been very welcoming. I want to thank my family for their support, Barrow Market management, attendants and all the other traders who have been so kind to me while I’ve been moving in.” 

Strange and Unusual opened on Monday (3 October) and was officially opened by the Mayor of Barrow, Councillor Hayley Preston, on Friday (7 October). 

Cllr Preston, said: “It’s great to see Barrow Market thriving with such a huge selection of distinctive businesses. The market is at the centre of exciting changes at the moment so it’s great to see new businesses being added to the fold.” 

Barrow Market is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 9am to 5pm. For more information please visit https://www.barrowbc.gov.uk/visitors/shopping/market/ or https://www.facebook.com/BarrowMarketOfficial