Prize aims to revive market's flash and banter

An historic market is asking the public to rate its market traders’ patter. Old Spitalfields in east London hopes a competition will see the revival of the art of ‘banter’, chat to potential buyers and ‘flash,’ the visual display of merchandise.

Customers will be asked to nominate stall-holders, with a top prize of £1,000 for the winner.

Shoppers who make 10 purchases with a competitor can obtain a shopping voucher and the chance to win £250 in a prize draw.

In an age of multinational retailing giants, the Wellington Market Company, responsible for the market, aims to showcase the individual attention lavished by traders on their customers, and their character.

“Gone are the days when market traders can just stand there motionless and merely react to their customers,” said its chief executive, Malcolm Ball.

“There's so much competition on the high street, let alone inside the market hall, that market traders now need to up their game and take a much more proactive approach in attracting new customers.

“Although it's widely known in our industry that markets can offer shoppers saving on their shopping bills, we do need to convey this message out to consumers. The challenge is all about presentation and attitude and that's where flash and banter comes in.

“I've visited markets throughout the UK, such as the world-famous Bury Market and, from further afield, Quincy Market in Boston and Pike Place in Seattle. There, they take the concept of flash and banter to a whole new level and this has actually made the market a tourist destination in its own right. I'd like to see what could only be described as 'retail theatre' become much more prominent throughout Britain.”