Bolton's Future Market Traders Strategy

Bolton Markets have been successfully running youth markets using the Teenage Market platform for the last three years. It has grown to be one of the largest in the country with around 35-40 young traders and performers taking part. The Teenage Market is one of a range of initiatives Bolton Markets use to target the young people in the local area. Assistant Market Manager, Steven Turney shares some of the things he’s learned.

“We’ve been running ‘Teenage Markets’ since 2016. Essentially what that licence gives you is the brand, and access to a website to advertise to young traders, but we are also advertising elsewhere and targeting directly using social media, local Colleges, Schools and local radio to attract young people to operate on our events. We run three Bolton Teenage Markets a year on the main town centre square called Victoria Square, in front of Bolton town hall. We work with our local radio provider, Bolton FM and there is usually entertainment in the form of a pop-up boxing ring, football arena & cycle track provided by Bolton Council’s ‘Get Active’ team to promote a healthy active lifestyle from a young age. Bolton FM provide a roaming commenter to play music throughout each event and source live young performers to show case their talents.

“Bolton Markets provide free pitches, gazebos and tables for all traders and performers on our Bolton Teenage Market events aged between 13 to 25.

“I used to open registration to all three dates for the year at the same time on one generic poster and flyer, but I found it better to just release one date at a time and promote each individually around two months before the event dates. That’s because, we were finding that people would register and then forget that they had. Now we just open registration one or two months before each event and have found it a much better way to engage with the young traders wanting to attend. Around 65% of our traders re-book on the day of the first event for the following two, because of the success they have found it from a trading point of view.”

“Many young traders will want to trade selling items that are in trend at the time, for example cup-cakes and play slime etc. but the Markets Management team always have in mind to make sure we have a balanced trade on all our youth markets, so we offer help to them and actively try to encourage them to sell a different product range from the other young traders who we have already accepted. On occasions this has proved to be a more popular item to sell to the public and ended up as a more rewarding experience to the young trader when they have come up with something unique that no other stall is selling. The majority of first time young traders can feel reserved and unsure of how to sell to the public. I offer encouragement and support them to be more confident with public speaking and how they display their products for sale on the stall. Each young trader gets the opportunity to go ‘live’ on air thanks to Bolton FM which enables them to talk about their business and what they are selling on the day. You see a real passion and pride grow as they become more animated about the business they are promoting.

“When the students attend from the Colleges & Youth Markets here at Bolton market, it is great to see our market traders happily sharing advice and tips on how to best set their stalls up and sell their products on the market. A real-life skill being taught well. It is very rewarding having the young people trading on Bolton Market working on their own market stalls, it adds vibrancy, youth and helps our market by bringing the next generation of shopper and traders back to Bolton Market.

“We regularly invite some of the young Bolton Teenage Market traders, local youth groups, schools and colleges into Bolton Market on our operational market days to trade and help them grow their businesses and gain ‘real life’ experience in a real market environment. On regular occasions we have had the young Bolton Teenage Market performers attend the market to showcase their talents on our family friendly ‘Fun Day’ events, all have done well and enjoyed the experience of being part of the market family.

“A few young bakers who have seen how well they have done operating as a market trader on our Teenage Markets and on Bolton Market, have chosen to carry on learning to gain professional qualifications from college in a bid to hopefully start a business in the future.

“Markets Management handpick some of those young traders from the Teenage Market and offer them a free stall at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival held over the August bank Holiday weekend, which attracts a footfall of around 267,000 people over the four-day event. This gives the young traders a huge opportunity to showcase and grow their talents and business as market traders of the future. All the young traders were extremely staggered at how many attended last year’s Food & Drink Festival, and how well they traded over the four-day period.

“We work closely with Bolton Sixth Form College and after meeting with tutors we devised a plan at how best we could work together to involve their students in operating small businesses in the market environment. Following this, some of their Art students were able to incorporate this into their course work, by bringing their creations to the market to display and sell over a week period in the Spring of this year and they sold their art work to the public. From this opportunity they were able to see what popular items were and did well with sales to enable them to be more successful when they returned at Christmas. It gave them a great platform of what to design to increase sales to maximise on this opportunity to trade again. Business students form the college also ran a stall for a week’s period and created from scratch some ‘Christmas Eve Boxes’ which they also sold and promoted on the market in the December period. All the money they raised from these sales enabled them to reinvest it back into the Business Department of the college to fund their next business project and running costs of the department.

“Bolton Market also provides work experience placements for students, pairing them up with our experienced traders to give them an opportunity to work along-side them on a couple of half day sessions gaining ‘hands on’ experience of operating a small business. The aim is to give them a real insight into how small businesses operate involving buying of goods, selling of goods and business costings. Markets Management believe we give the students who attend valuable life skills and they learn valuable lessons that our traders teach them. Following the success story from the Sixth Form College, we are currently in talks with tutors from Bolton College & Bolton University about Apprenticeship opportunity’s & further work experience placements for their students working directly with Bolton Market traders.

“Following the great success with Bolton Markets Christmas free ‘Kids Cookery & Craft Workshop’ which was held every Saturday throughout December, we noticed it brought in lots of new families who had never previously attended or shopped on the market who have now become regular shoppers attending on average once every week. Due to it being so popular, Markets Management decided to introduce a monthly ‘Kids Cookery & Craft Workshop’ aimed at young children to encourage this trend further. These workshops are held every third Saturday in the month and often themed to special days I.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc. or linked to national events like the World Cup, Royal Wedding etc. Markets Management have found this has increased footfall to the market on the day of events and showcases what is the jewel in the crown of Bolton Town Centre, Bolton Market.

Click here to find out more about trading on markets run by Bolton Council.

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