Two entrepreneurs who ran their own stalls on the Borough Council’s first young traders market, in Newcastle-under-Lyme are in with a chance of being crowned “national young trader of the year” and winning £500.
Rebecca Jones and Fay Dixon have made it through to the finals of the Young Traders Market competition, run by the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), which will see them market their wares along with 70 of the best young traders from across the country at Waterside in Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday, 30 August and Saturday, 31 August.
Young people were encouraged to run their own outdoor pitches in Newcastle in July as part of the initiative by the NMTF – the only national UK organisation representing market traders – which aims to encourage more 16-30 year olds to consider incorporating market trading into their business model. Basford resident Rebecca, who recently graduated from Derby University in textile design, showcased handmade scarves, cushions, bags and purses – as well as hand decorated tiles – at her first market while Fay, from Stafford, sold greetings cards, vinyl tote bags, badges and prints.
The NMTF expanded the format of the contest this year so that local and regional markets nominated their winners based on a national scoring system focusing on professionalism, sales skills, cleanliness, stock levels, unique selling point, quality, knowledge and pricing.
Rebecca and Fay were among a select few from Newcastle invited to attend the regional heat in Wolverhampton earlier this month and have now reached the last stage in the competition.
Rebecca, age 21, said: “Attending the market in Newcastle was a spur of the moment decision but I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed it – it was much better than I expected. I received some very positive comments from the public who were happy to see more variety on the market. This support was really nice, especially as it was my first time trading. Reaching the final is a complete surprise, and a real bonus, as I wasn’t even expecting to get to Wolverhampton. I’m really looking forward to visiting Stratford-upon-Avon. This is such a great initiative which gives young people like me a chance to try new things. I’ve just graduated so it was perfect timing for me.”
The Council is supporting the talented youngsters in their quest for success by contributing up to £100 each towards travel and accommodation costs.
Cllr. Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance and efficiency, said: “The Council was delighted to host its first ever young traders market this year – not only has it given talented youngsters the chance to try market trading and offered something different to visitors, it’s provided excellent opportunities for Rebecca and Fay. I congratulate them on their fantastic achievements and wish them both the very best of luck in the finals. We’re currently taking a serious look at ways to revitalise Newcastle’s historic market. It’s recognised that attracting new traders, especially young ones, is just one way that we can bring a fresh injection of vibrancy to our high street.”
Fay, aged 28, added: “I was really shocked when I reached the finals; it’s going to be really interesting. Markets can be seen as places for older people, with someone shouting about fruit. But they can be brilliant, modern places that offer something different. There needs to be more people starting new businesses – markets are a great place to start because it doesn’t cost a lot to set up compared to an actual shop.”