I never fail to be overjoyed at the quirky, creative and wondrous that is unloaded from the cars and vans that pull into my street markets very early on trading mornings. Of course I know who’ll be there – and I know the type of thing each individual likes to buy and sell but that really is only the start. From a vehicle loaded to the roof – and sometimes on the roof too – with goodness only knows, comes a stall set up 90 minutes or so later that is a thing of great wonder and beauty. A lot of effort goes into this stall set up – and as I watch the traders take a step back and get a different perspective on their display and then tweak further, I’m smitten… for there is a stallholder after my own heart. If it is worth getting up at the crack of dawn or earlier for, if it is worth driving sometimes an awful lot of miles to what only might be a cracking market day, if it is worth standing in all weathers from the freezing cold to the really boiling hot and all the rain and wind in between for and if it is worth knowing that at the end of the working day your back will feel like a hot poker is being dug into your spine – then it is definitely worth making that extra effort to have your pitch looking a million dollars!
That million dollars may consist of embroidered postcards from world war 1 sent to sweethearts or tiny weeny toy soldiers first played with a very very long time ago. It might even consist of vibrant orange lamps just like mum used to have in the front room alongside that skandi looking teak sideboard. It could consist of a French enamel jug, a fine piece of French baroque furniture painted in a particularly updated regal colour way, an original and very collectable Rolex watch, some art deco glassware, some art deco jewellery or any kind of treasure from days gone by. It could be clothes, furniture, knick knacks, kitchenware, art, books, garden furniture… it could be anything…but you can guarantee that my wonderful stallholders have gone all out to find it and bring it to you, the customer. I know they travel far and wide to find the unique and wonderful – it is absolutely part of the passion and the excitement that makes them do what they do.
When you next come to the market just take a minute. Why not take an interesting minute to look at the trader and look at the wares they are presenting. Did they pick that particular something to bring because they love and want it in their own house? or did they bring it because they hoped you would love it? Maybe they just couldn’t leave it where it was as it would have been truly rude to leave it there? Who knows!
What I do know it that some of those traders plan and design the way that stall is presented to the customers to the finest detail, with love and care far beyond what you might imagine.
So – I organise the markets and book the traders. But it is those traders who bring along the real nitty gritty of what makes the markets what they are. My traders, stallholders – call them what you will, are the Artists and Chiswick High Road or St Peters Street, St Albans is the canvas. Come and visit the market – you won’t be disappointed.