WARRINGTON is hoping to prove its worth as the home of young entrepreneurs and self motivated start-ups this weekend.

Eight independent businesses from the town have reached the final of the Young Traders’ Market competition in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Over two days, their sales patter, knowledge, customer service and charisma will be judged during the hustle and bustle of a busy marketplace.

Last year the National Market Traders’ Federation contest was won by Warrington Market’s own greengrocer, Rob Leicester.

So that has inspired other budding businesses – including microbrewery Modern Day Monks who won the regional final – to try and retain the title.

Warrington Guardian:

Modern Day Monks

Rob, from Latchford, said: “Last year I was the only person from Warrington to apply for the competition. It just shows how much it’s grown.

“If you hear that someone has had success with it halfway across the country it doesn’t feel that attainable but if you hear someone from Warrington has won, it makes it feel more at home and more realistic.

“It’s given people that little confidence boost to go: ‘You know what I will apply for it this year’.

“This year there were also a lot more heats organised in the north west while Warrington Market was chosen as the venue for the regional final.

“We didn’t think it would take off as much as it did in Warrington but the market and the council worked really hard to spread the word and push up the numbers.”

Ten traders from the north west final were put through to the final, including eight who have Warrington links.

So Warrington has a good chance of retaining the title but the competition is also stiff – 29 traders were in the 2018 final while there are 72 this year.

Jon Waldron-Swift, who runs Modern Day Monks near Hobb Lane with his brother Jim, said: “It’s been great for us getting the exposure and all the love from the Warrington people.

“They’ve helped us a lot as we’re a Warrington brand and we initially want to grow in the town and the market has helped us do that.

“Seeing smiles on people’s faces, knowing we’re doing the right thing, is always nice as well. It’s exciting times for us.”

The brothers learnt to brew at D.O.M Brewery in Koolskamp.

Jon, a former Bridgewater High School student, added: “We travelled over to Belgium to brew some beer and fell in love with the beer styles there.

READ MORE > Modern Day Monks brew up success at Young Traders Market

“We came back and started to brew out of an old keg and a jerry can. We did that for a little while then went back to Belgium and then to Barcelona and Sweden as well so it’s been a long time coming.

“We plan to travel to more places and different breweries and take inspiration from there so I’ve got ideas to go to America and Germany and places like that.”

Whatever brews up at the final, Modern Day Monks are considering looking at a permanent market space in the future as a brewery tap or shop.

Jon, 24, said: “I’m both excited and nervous. There’s a lot more competition this year showing there’s still a big place for markets.

“We stumbled into the market but found our feet very quickly so to take advantage of that and be the national champions would be huge.

“We’ve grown with the market so we feel as if we’re a part of it. It’d be great if we could bring the title back to Warrington for the second year in a row.”

Also in the final from Warrington Market is Charlotte Hayward.

A pregnancy craving for cookie dough became a new career path for the 27-year-old who swapped teaching at Great Budworth Primary School for baking.

Warrington Guardian:

Charlotte Hayward

Because Charlotte’s a mum-of-two to Rosie, one, and Alice, three, she wanted more flexibility which is what the job at the market gave her.

She will be introducing Stratford-upon-Avon to her comfort food concept, Cookies and Dough.

Charlotte added: “I’d like to thank my husband. He’s been the one who’s been picking up the flack at home and helping me on markets where I’ve double booked myself.

“With family, the market stall, pop-up markets and the Young Traders competition I’ve been juggling a lot at the same time.

“I’m self-taught and have developed my recipes through trial and error and trying them out on people.

“It’s nice to get that recognition of the hard work you’ve put in and know someone else believes in you.”

Despite many challenges to markets like internet shopping and supermarkets, Charlotte reckons there is a bright future for young traders – as long as they are willing to move with the times.

She said: “I do a lot of pop-up markets and artisan markets around the north west and the new faces coming onto the markets are all young people that want to have a go at making something for themselves.

“There’s also been a huge boom in the food and drink scene in markets if you look at the likes of Altrincham Market and the Baltic Market in Liverpool.

“Markets have modernised and have become somewhere people like to go to socialise. At Baltic Market there’s a three-year waiting list for market traders so there’s clearly a demand and moving forward more young people will be coming into the business.”

Rob, who is now an ambassador for Young Market Trader scheme, said: “That will be the case in Warrington as well.

“There are plans for more young trader events. We are the future of the market so it’s important we do stuff like this.”

Rob also gave his best advice for the weekend.

He added: “Stratford-upon-Avon is a tourist town so you can imagine how busy it becomes but the main thing I’d say is be prepared, do your research but mainly enjoy it.”