Dorset’s First Young Traders’ Market Offering Free Stalls In Shaftesbury

Young entrepreneurs are being offered free trading space at Shaftesbury’s monthly Sunday High Street market. Alfred spoke with organiser Steve Dauwalder and heard why he’s establishing Dorset’s first ‘Young Traders Market’.

Steve Dauwalder has spent thirty years in retail business and market trading. Now he says that he wants to encourage the next generation of traders and he wants new stallholders to ‘think big’!

“Well-known, famous traders have started with market stalls and grown. Marks and Spencer started with a market stall 150 odd years ago,” said Steve. He is hoping that local home-producers will take up his offer and help extend the range of goods on sale at the ‘Cobbles’ market. Steve is also keen to replace some recently retired traders.

Steve Dauwalder

“It’s time to get some new blood in with some new ideas. They could be manufacturing their own products, craft or food items. We’re trying to encourage three or four new traders to join us, every month,” said Steve.

Steve has taken up a National Market Traders Federation scheme to encourage under 30-year-olds to try their hand at stallholding. He says that he was keen to seize the opportunity for Shaftesbury. “This is the first formal youth market in Dorset, so we really want to get this off the ground,” he said.

There is a fairly wide definition of ‘young trader’ under the project rules. “They class it as between the ages of 15 and 30. They must have set up their business within the last 12 months or be just about to set up their business. If they are aged between 15 and 18 then they must have some adult company, such as a family member, with them on the day. If they are over 18 there is no issue. Market traders are compelled to have insurance, but we will insure them,” explained Steve.

The traders will have plenty of space to fill with products. “A standard market stall is ten feet by ten feet. In modern language, that’s three meters by three meters, so you have got a three-meter setting frontage and you have got the depth of three meters. We will provide a gazebo and a table to kick you off.”

Steve hopes that new traders will enjoy their taster experience. “They can have a couple of goes at it for free. If it’s working for them, then they can do it in a more formal way,” he said. If the try-out traders want to take the plunge, Steve arranges other markets in the area and can introduce new recruits to further retail opportunities.

“Salisbury run a quarterly youth market. That’s arranged by the local authority. They get quite a good turnout in the Market Square. Bath does a similar thing. If you are a student, you can work around your studies and hours or if you’re doing a full-time job you can just test the water.”

Steve grew up in Shaftesbury and he says the town is a good place to start a market trading business. “It is in an ideal setting. There is a very understanding and encouraging customer base in Shaftesbury. Customers here are always hungry for something new. I think it’s a good place for a youngster to start,” he said.

Steve says he is happy to advise new recruits on rules and regulations and act as a mentor. “Everybody needs to be their own boss, but it’s always nice to have someone to fall back on with some ideas if you think things aren’t working,” Steve said, adding that he wants any new traders to get results. “If traders don’t do well, I don’t do well. It is in my interest for traders to succeed.”

Steve says there is a craft to being a good market trader and he’s happy to share his knowledge with new traders. “Make your stall look catchy. Get the signage right. You can use blackboards. Use a bit of lacquer or hairspray to stop the chalk running on your blackboard. At the smaller markets, traders are always willing to give you advice. You get to pick it up quite quickly,” said Steve.

If you are interested in taking up Steve’s offer you could get a pitch at the next Sunday street market. “We are on Shaftesbury High Street on the third Sunday of most months of the year, from February through to November. You could start as early as next month, in July, and you could be making a little bit of money within the next six weeks,” said Steve.

You can contact Steve through his website at or call 01722 555888.