This is the second in a new series of ‘Trader Tales’ revamped for 2017– where you’ll find out more about the creative, pioneering entrepreneurs on our small but perfectly formed Manchester market.
For our latest instalment of Trader Tales, we had a little natter with one of Levy Market’s biggest supporters, a fiercely loyal trader and all-round street food champion. It’s the lovely Ed Goodinson from Wrapscallion, avocado slayer and king of the burrito.
Why did you decide to trade on a market rather than set up a bricks and mortar business?
EG: I chose to work on a trailer and with markets rather than a permanent bricks and mortar place as I prefer the sense of freedom and having worked in restaurants all my life I know how stressful and expensive it can be to open them. My reasoning with the trailer being: if it goes “tits up”, I can always sell the trailer and start again.
So what’s your favourite part about trading on a market?
EG: I love working in the market environment- especially at Levenshulme – for the sense of community it has. I find I now have regular customers and have to say the fellow traders and organisers at Levy themselves have always been there to support me as my business has grown. It’s obvious that the organisers at Levy do it out of a sense of community rather than pure profit. This is reflected not only in their low pitch fees but also in their meetings/feedback held in person and online. They listen and adapt unlike many other event organisers.
LM: Thanks Ed! And we didn’t pay him to say this, honestly!
What was the hardest obstacle to overcome when first starting your business?
EG: The hardest part of starting my business was that I started out already in debt. Never been much of a statistician but I found out quickly that I had to be. The first year of trading I realised that just to stay afloat I had to make a fortune. I was £2k overdrawn for well over a year and it was very stressful.
Could you offer any advice for new traders setting up their first business?
EG: It took me a good year to find what worked for me and my niche. I would strongly advise new traders to play to their strengths, to research the competition and to not expect it to be easy. Personally my first year was a nightmare. I tried to start out big and paid huge pitch fees to overzealous organisers. I didn’t do my maths and soon realised that as I was working alone there was very little chance to achieve the targets necessary to justify the larger pitch fees I was paying. I now set myself a limit of £150 pitch fee for any event.
The most important thing for me was to learn from my mistakes; to make alterations to my menu (if you can’t freeze things and you don’t sell them, they’re wasted) and to find a system that worked for me as well as appealing to the customer. I worked out the burrito was perfect not only for the size of my trailer but also the speed with which they can be served (every 30 seconds).
Do you have any exciting future plans for the business?
EG: I would like to just maintain and keep at a level where Wrapscallion remains consistent. For now that is all that matters. I’m not hell bent on making millions and I’m happy to keep it “one step at a time”. After years of working at minimum wage for other people in bars/restaurants, I’m just so happy to be working for me. It sounds cliche but it is true – it’s hard work but so worth it.
I’ve always had a strong work ethic and have been working from the age of 14 (now 42). I instil the same ethic in any assistants I employ and I lead by example.
You’ll find the lovely Ed and his incredibly moreish burritos at Levenshulme Market on Saturday 2nd December, Friday 15th December and every Tuesday lunchtime (until 12th December) at our University of Manchester markets. Keep up with the Scallywagon’s latest adventures on the Wrapscallion Facebook page.