How often do you see somebody under the age of 25 with their own market stall?
Have you thought about it?
Well, in the last 2 months I have been to over 8 different markets, indoor and outdoor, in the West Midlands and I can honestly say, upsettingly, I have only seen or can remember meeting 2 to 4 out of the 100+ I spoke to with their own market stall. These were all young males, from selling electric cigarette accessories at the Dudley indoor market to selling shoes at the Willenhall outdoor market – but shockingly no young females.
Why is this and what does this say about markets?
This brought some questions to my attention.. For starters, does this imply that market stalls are all too ‘uncool’? Could this be a reason as to why young people aren’t looking into this around the West Midlands,? If so, why does this not appeal to the younger/future generation of market stall holders as a way of escaping unemployment? Why does this not appeal to local councils as a way of improving unemployment around their local areas because surely they will profit in ways of figures and statistics. Now, I know there are youth markets out there but these are more of an event than a regular occurrence, and from the markets that I visited, I did not see any of these, and the people I spoke to had all been trading for around 10 to 50 years. So, does this imply market traders are a dying breed? It would seem so, as all the market traders today have been doing it for years and there is a lack of young entrepreneurs opening markets selling their take on good product, and making markets more diverse with products.
In my personal opinion markets are a perfect opportunity for young entrepreneurs to start out, they can learn to understand trends, pick up skills such as customer service and sales skills, gain confidence, and gather their own unique styles. Many big corporations started as a simple market stall before expanding and growing, but nobody seems to highlight these facts today as even in schools to an extent, they slowly tear away at our inner entrepreneurs and laugh at our creativity if it doesn’t fall in line with their curriculum. For example when I was a young boy in primary school my teacher asked all the class at the time what do you want to be when you are older? The class all replied the obvious, footballer, teacher, scientist etc.. but when it came to me (keep in mind I was a young wrestling fanatic, stone cold generation) I replied a WWF wrestler, in which the teacher responded and laughed said you can’t be one of them they aren’t real etc.. choose something more realistic. Now I know we are slightly off topic but from that day I gave up on my dreams, although today I am glad as I have grown up and enjoy business but if the teacher would have responded differently maybe I could have also been a professional wrestler!
My point being teachers have a tendency to throw us off our dreams; if I would have said for example “a market trader like my dad”, I assure you I would have had the same response as there is no right answer in school unless of course it is a policeman, doctor or teacher, so it brings me to question whether schools are raising us to do what they think is right instead of supporting the youth, keeping their creativity pure, which through a long term perspective could be the reason preventing the youth to look into markets as a way to kick start their careers/businesses.
On the other hand, we should ask whether it is councils like Wolverhampton with their ongoing rent rises every year in markets such as Bilston, where rent rates keep rising, making it harder for traders to make a living therefore resulting in some closing down or some going to seek markets elsewhere – and the more they are trading the more debt they are getting themselves in to, forcing them to seek other avenues as they simply can’t break even anymore? Or councils such as Walsall giving the majority of the budget to the market in Walsall instead of sharing it equally across all of their markets? This was according to residents of the Willenhall market when doing market research around Willenhall, as a lot of the traders mentioned Walsall market receiving all the funding which means that they are neglected which is why it is dying down. They also spoke about how it used to be thriving, even having an indoor market whereas now they don’t have an indoor market, and have half as many traders.
Or is it a combination of both schools draining our creativity and councils being greedy and not treating everywhere equally? Or is it the fact that despite all this, markets are neglected, market traders are effectively running their own businesses in the hardest conditions and in return receive no support which is why it would not appeal to many under 25 as a way to make a living. In my opinion this is not right as markets have been around since before all of our times and are a big part of Britain and great days out, and for many of us great memories too, so we need to encourage young market traders and make it an appealing prospect, and make them aware of the avenues this could open. This may then revolutionise markets altogether with a mix of old age and new age technologies, gizmos, remedies and gadgets.