YOUNG entrepreneurs from all over the country will showcase their fledgling businesses in Stratford this bank holiday weekend.
The national final of the Young Traders Market competition will take place on Waterside on Friday and Saturday.
Some 70 young traders, aged 16 to 30, will compete for the UK retail markets industry’s prestigious Young Trader of the Year title, together with a £500 cash prize.
The initiative is organised by the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), the UK’s market trade association, to encourage more entrepreneurs to see the industry as a way of making a good living.
Last year’s competition was won by Emma Rus, who clinched the title with her unique market business specialising in ‘tipsy’ cupcakes inspired by cocktails.
This year’s young traders earned their place in the final at one of seven regional events.
They will be judged by market experts who will decide on the best in each of four categories — food and drink, arts and crafts, grocery, and general retail — before choosing the overall winner.
This will be the fourth time Stratford has hosted the final, thanks to the support from both the town and district councils and the private market operator LSD Promotions.
Joe Harrison, CEO of the NMTF, said: “Last year the pandemic forced the cancellation of the regional finals and the local events that should have led up to them.
“But we were able to stage the final and it was incredibly successful.
“This year we have been overwhelmed by the number of young entrepreneurs and the various markets and operators across the country that have taken part.
“The campaign has created a buzz on high streets and in towns and cities up and down the country, and the final looks set to be a huge attraction.”
He added after so much disruption caused by the pandemic, it was heartening to see so many bright, ambitious young entrepreneurs working incredibly hard to market and grow their small businesses.
Mr Harrison explained the NMTF launched the Young Trader initiative to encourage young blood into the markets industry.
He said: “Like so many industries, retail markets have been hit by the pandemic, but we are also seeing many street markets gaining a new lease of life as the great British public rediscover the experience of market shopping and the wonderful market characters and bargains to be had.
“The national final in Stratford will give people an opportunity to see the best that young entrepreneurs and market traders have to offer.”