Updated: Mar 3, 2020
In Glasgow’s famous Barras Market you’ll find John, a sweet-stall holder just as comfortable pitching soor plooms to French and Spanish tourists in their native tongue, as he is selling old favourites to his countless local customers. Once the largest outdoor market in Europe, The Barras first opened in the early 1900s. Famed for its stallholders’ brilliant patter and giving its name to the notorious Barrowlands Ballroom, it is now a mix of old and new, where rows of dusty antique stalls rub shoulders with contemporary event space Barras Art and Design.
As a new born baby behind the counter of his grandmother’s fruit and veg stall and later a young child helping to take orders and collect payment from other stallholders, John grew up at the Barras. In recent years, as a student at the University of Glasgow, he worked on the sweet stall at weekends, and now, as a graduate, he has taken over its ownership. It’s a stall he himself has fond memories of, and with a kaleidoscopic display of sweetie jars lining the shelves, it’s not hard to see why. This vast array of ever-changing confectionary comprises everything from traditional Chelsea whoppers, the cartoon-covered candies popular with children, to his bestselling homemade Scottish butter tablet. In total, John calculates he stocks over two-hundred products, redefining the term ‘spoilt for choice’.
The stall’s vibrant signage and many hued-sweets make it a sugary oasis amongst the specialist hobby stands, the souvenir vendors, and unfortunately the rows of vacated booths, a bleak reminder of the market’s decline in recent years. Whilst it is true that the Barras is a smaller market than it once was, there is hope for the future as new developments spring up in nearby Dennistoun and more money is invested into the area. However, a conversation about the Barras’ decline is an odd one to have under the shiny sweet jars of John’s stall as he weighs out chocolate buttons and fizzy watermelons for a steady stream of customers.
Whether you’re lured in by a sweet-tooth or just a healthy dose of nostalgia, The Sweetie Stall isn’t one to miss when visiting the east end of Glasgow.
The Sweetie Stall is open Saturday and Sunday, 8:30am until 3.30pm.
The Barras Market
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