One of High Wycombe’s longest-serving market vendors says he can only continue trading because he’s not financially reliant on turning a profit.

Mahboob ‘Jack’ Hussain, 69, has had a clothing stall in High Wycombe market for over 40 years, making him one of the longest-serving vendors on the High Street.

He has seen a great deal of change in the town over the four decades and suspects that online shopping trends are the main reason for a gradual but certain fall in the number of stallholders on market days.

“Online shopping has affected everybody with a business in the town, not just market stalls. Not many people come out anymore.

“Years ago, there was no hot food allowed on the market. These food stalls have only been going for about 25 years now. You had bread and fruit, but (a majority of hot food vendors) hasn’t always been the case.”

Bucks Free Press:

Jack is a pensioner and isn’t reliant on the money he makes from market sales.

It’s a uniquely invulnerable position and means he has had an authoritative view on the arrival and departure of many independent stalls who have not been able to turn a profit over the years.

“I don’t think I could make a living out of this. It’s more of a hobby for me. Some days I have to pay out of pocket because I haven’t sold enough things.

“The guy who runs the market has said that once I pack up, he won’t replace me. I don’t think anybody can become a proper market trader now.”

Jack said the change over the past 20 to 30 years has been drastic.

Bucks Free Press:

“Back then, you would have stalls crammed all the way up the High Street and there would be a six or seven-year waiting list for people trying to get involved.

“You would have stalls in the Octagon Market and all along Bridge Street. The town would be absolutely jam-packed on market days – you wouldn’t be able to move.

“Now people just stay at home and get deliveries.”

Speaking to the Free Press last month, Dimitri Matheou, owner of Cutler’s barber shop, opposite Jack’s stall on the High Street, shared similar concerns about changes in the town.

He said: “So many of the independent shops in Wycombe are dying because they only have two or three people coming in a day. People don’t want to come down here anymore – we’re hanging on by the skin of our teeth.”