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Meet the traders: Wisebuys Hair and Beauty

Posted: 8 August 2022

Wisebuys trader serving customer behind stall

It's a typically British summers day, warm with the odd glimpse of sunshine beaming through the clouds, yet a constant threat of rain is hanging in the air.  

Leona from Preston City Council's markets teams met with Valerie Sargeant, the owner of Wisebuys Hair and Beauty. Valerie has been a stall holder on Preston Markets for over 45 years.

Valerie and Leona sat under the Box Market Canopy for a chat about her life, her time as a stallholder on Preston Markets and the products she retails.

L.B. It's great to have time to chat with you, Valerie! Tell me about your stall?

V.S. My stall is Wisebuys Hair and Beauty a family run business and we've been on Preston Markets for 45 years.

L.B. What kind of things do you sell on your stall?

V.S. We sell hair extensions, human and synthetic in all different colours lengths and styles. We also sell wigs, cosmetics, and hair dyes, including Directions hair dye which comes in all the colours of the rainbow.

L.B. What's your most popular product that you sell?

V.S. I think it's probably the hair extensions, wigs and clip in pieces, people know we have such a good variety so we get a lot of repeat custom. 

L.B. Do you sell real human hair?

V. S. We do, yes. We sell the best and at a reasonable price too.

L.B. Is the synthetic hair nearly as good as real hair these days?

V.S. Yes! There is a lot of choice too, there are lots of colours and lengths available.  The synthetic hair is very popular with customers.

L.B. What's the price difference between real and synthetic?

V.S. Generally Synthetic hair is £25 per pack and its £65 per pack for real hair.

L.B. How old were you when you started trading at Preston Market?

V.S. I've been trading on Preston Markets for 45 years since I was 16!

L.B. Wow!

V.S. Yes! It's a long time!

L.B. What is your favourite product that you sell?

V.S. I think it would have to be the coloured wigs, we get so many interesting reactions from customers when they see them.

L.B. What's the most interesting or funny thing that has ever happened whilst you've been on Preston Markets?

V.S. Sometimes customers try the wigs and they're surprised by their new image. They say "Oh it's not me" and I'll say "Well its not supposed to be you, it's a new look"

LB. Do you have regular customers?

V.S. We do indeed. We get to meet lots of different people too, different clientele. We have regulars who will buy the same product for years, it's always good to see regular customers.

L.B. What do you like to do on your days off?

V.S. I tend to spend my days off catching up on lots of jobs at home, cleaning up and a bit of office work. I do most of my product buying online now. At one time, we had to travel to London or Birmingham once a week to buy our products. It's much easier now online and saves lots of time.

L.B. What's your favourite stall on Preston Markets?

V.S. I think they're all good - the food especially is really good here. We have such a varied choice. it's similar to the European Markets.

L.B. You must have seen a lot of changes over 44 years?

V.S. The internet has changed the shopping landscape because we have to compete with online retailers. A lot of the online service isn't very good though. We get customers who will order their hair and they'll get someone who doesn't even deliver it on time and if they don't like it, it's a messy procedure to send it back. I think with products like ours, you have to see them and feel them to know they are what you want.

Also, it's become more card-payment orientated, especially since Covid. There is still some cash around, but not much. The business is important because I don't want to let people down. I want people to know that I'm reliable and this is probably why I've not managed any holidays for a few years, but I'd rather not bother at the moment and just concentrate on the business. Because I like routine, stopping for a break is worse for me. I struggled over the covid lockdowns. I found it difficult to stop.

L.B. One more question! Name five things that you can't live without?

Five things? I'd have to say my family first, then routine second - I like routine in my life. And at the moment, I'm keeping a healthy lifestyle so that would have to be number three. I can't live without a good cup of tea and I love a bit of Frank Sinatra.  

You can find Valerie's stall, Wisebuys Hair and Beauty, at the Market Hall open 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

Check out the stall

Interested to find out more? For further details see Wisebuys hair and beauty.

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