Shahid Mhamood learned the skill of market trading in his home town of Thetford and has been doing it now for more than 30 years.
Originally from Pakistan, he was working at Thetford’s former Danepak bacon factory when he decided to give market life a whirl, and he has not looked back since.
He said: “I saw people from Rochdale, in Manchester, sleeping in vans and doing markets in my area and I looked at them and I thought ‘if you can do it, I can do it, too’.
“I started doing it part time and it just took off from there.”
“Being local and being here regularly, that’s the only thing I know,” he added.
His large ladieswear stall – which he runs with his older brother Sohail Ahmed – can be found pitched up outside Sneezum’s in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesdays and near The Body Shop in the town on Saturdays, as well as in Thetford on Tuesdays and Ely on Thursdays.
The friendly father-of-three, whose sons have all helped out on the stall at one time or another, says he has felt the effects of the economic downturn ‘a hell of a lot’ in recent years as many people have had noticeably less money to spend.
But he regularly tops up on new stock by making weekly trips to London, to ensure that his customers are always able to get what they want and have plenty to choose from.
Made from a range of polyester, cotton, linen and Lycra materials, Mr Mhamood’s colourful fabrics and patterns include fashions from as far afield as India, Sri Lanka, China and Italy, with a variety of casual and elegant styles to suit all occasions and tastes.
“When you deal with London, the clothes come from every country in the world,” he said.
“If you don’t have anything new then you’re stuck,” added the 54-year-old, who says he is not afraid to take risks with his fashion choices.
His Christmas jumpers have been a good seller in recent years, while his colourful harem pants, otherwise known as Ali Baba trousers, are currently proving very popular.
Describing himself as ‘a people person’ who ‘loves the countryside’, Mr Mhamood says there is nothing else he would rather be doing than trading in this area.
“I love it, you can’t beat it,” he said.
“And it keeps you fit – a lot of people go to the gym, but lifting these bars each day is physical,” he added.