A few years back the snow came. A sparkling blanket covered the land, a few feet deep meaning it was impossible to drive. Not to be defeated I defiantly put on my wellies and braved the white wasteland to walk to work. Wearing as many layers as possible, it was slow progress as I trudged on with my head down, almost blinded by the bright light. It was a surreal journey as I passed by fellow travels with a nod or hello. Whilst not a natural disaster more a minor inconvenience, it still brought out the best in people. The British grit and bulldog sprit shining through. Most did what they could to get to their jobs and business, not letting the fear of rouge polar bears and frost bitten lost toes keeping them in their warm beds. Later that year I decided to cycle to work zero temperatures; on getting to work I was most amused to see my bread was frozen solid.
These strange, chilly memories come back to me recently as Wishes of Cudworth did our Christmas Market stall at Chesterfield. This year it wasn’t cold, just a little wet but we couldn’t complain. The market was busy and our stall sheltered, plus the hot chocolate and marsh mellows help to warm the cockles. As I stood, stamped and danced on our stand my thoughts went out to the market stallholders who did this every day. Chesterfield is one of the few thriving Market Town’s still around. They have a wonderful ‘flea’ market every Thursday that I would frequent often in my younger days to scavenge for rare VHS films and once a month they welcome a Artisan Market.
Market stalls had been on the decline for a number of years but there are encouraging signs that that trend is reversing. Under their Better Barnsley campaign, Barnsley council have recently submitted plans for a 100 million development with their town centre. Art, Antique and Craft fairs have never been more popular, It’s one of my Sunday favourites to visit a new fair and have a mooch around. The demand for hand made, unique gifts is on the rise and a market stall, especially as part of a one off seasonal event means it’s more easy than ever for artists to sell their products. Add in the booming convection scene with new comic cons popping up around the country, plus wedding and art fairs and it’s great time to give the market trader life a go. Sure it’s not always so simple; it helps to have the gift of the gab and location is key. Wishes of Cudworth did a local event and the footfall was pitiful. Quiet frankly no-one came, which was disappointing for us but we’d only travelled just up the road. One poor trader had come from Scarborough and didn’t cover his cost. A lack of advertising was the fairs main failure, with not even a solitary poster outside the event itself, never mind around the village. When we did Chesterfield Market, they also turned on the town’s lights meaning a guaranteed flow of customers. It was a great bonus day of trading and we got to sell our products to a different area. Our next couple of Festive Markets are at a pub and Christmas Tree stockist so it will be interesting to compare the success of the events. So, get out your thermals and pack your flask, their’s money in them market stalls.