Ossett Observer’s Pop Up Swap Shop

On July 21st. We opened our first Pop Up Shop at Wood Street Market in Wakefield.

For one day only we hosted a ‘Creative Swap Shop’. We invited makers from the Wakefield District #WakeyMakers to come and swap something they had made for something someone else had made. We didn’t know whether it would work but the lovely people of Wood Street Market invited us to do it and we liked the cut of their jib so we said an enthusiastic YES!!!!

It’s a risk taking something out of your comfort zone and into a new space, to an unknown audience and a new town, but we wanted to make it work, to take a little bit of Ossett to this new Wakefield venture. We’d run two previous Swap Shops and they’d been great fun and a success. We like the format, it suits our ethos. No money changes hands, you just give of yourself and your talents and in exchange someone else gives of their gifts and talents. The idea is that it builds trust and  a network and community of makers and appreciators of skill and craft.

It’s not a new idea. French Sociologist Marcel Mauss wrote an essay on reciprocal gifting in 1925 that has influenced many cultures, philosophers, artists and political thinkers and we like to think his idea has trickled down into our Twenty First Century Creative Swap Shop.

As part of our day folks came and swapped home made produce, jewellery, music, knitwear, cards, ceramics, a chicken (not a real chicken you understand), bags, covers and cake … I got the cake, about which I was really rather chuffed, it was a vegan lemon cake and tasted bloody delicious. There is a picture somewhere of the cake, but in all honesty it didn’t hang around long enough to have its photo taken *licks lips*.

We also invited folks to come and swap musical stories with Mr Beaumont. If you’ve not met Mr Beaumont yet he is our in-house musicologist, he listens to you whilst you tell him about significant pieces of music from your life and in exchange he will play your music and share wisdom, tea and if needed, solace. Mr Beaumont carried out 8 consultations during the day from Conway Twitty to Deep Purple via Gill Scott Heron. His consulting room buzzed with eclectic sounds of music and laughter.

We had lots of visitors during the day, we asked them to sign our book, to log there swaps and encouraged folks to hang out, meet other makers, chat, chill and just spend a wee while with us in our lovely shop.

Many people had come back to Wood Street for the first time in years. It’s a sad but true fact that Wood Street is not what it was. Town planning and the movement of the retail centre, first to The Ridings and now to Trinity Walk, means that many of Wakefield’s traditional shopping streets have been abandoned. On the Saturday when we were setting up our shop, the Lord Mayor’s Parade went down Wood Street, they paraded from the Town Hall to the Cathedral and back. Preceded by a Brass Band we downed tools and ran to the pavement to try and see what the Brass Band was heralding. A parade of Civic Dignitaries in varying weights of regalia walked down Wood Street, there was no one to parade to.

It made us terribly sad,  but determined that Come Sunday we would bring some life back into the old street. And we did. Not on our own, but collectively joined by market traders, musicians, caterers, the wood street business community, we brought smiles and life and laughter back to Wood Street.

We asked folks to contribute to our memory tree, adding any memory of Wood Street in the form of a leaf or a fruit and it looked like this, it’s memories growing throughout the day !!!! We’ve decided to keep the memories a secret until the last Wood Street Market and then share them with you all.

We were even joined by some of our Ukulele Playing pals from Ossett and its environs and the organisers of the market said that seeing and hearing the joyful sound of the ukuleles brought a tear to their eye and made them think ‘That’s JUST in the spirit of what we wanted to achieve’

It was an absolute joy to be part of it and we’re looking forward to the next one on August 18th.Come down, make a swap, chill out, tell us your story.

Photos by: Sharon Shephard



Traisi Angus

It was a truly wonderful event, I love the swap shop idea – no VAT!
I’d love to see it taken further with a LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) if anyone fancies sorting one out. I know that in some respect it won’t improve the economy because money doesn’t change hands, but it does mean that those with a skill and not a great deal of dosh can utilise their talents to ‘pay’ for the skills and talents of others – oh, and there’s no VAT! lol

Ossett Observer Admin

Traisi, I think you might be the only person to have contributed to EVERY Swap Shop we’ve run.


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