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One of the things that we like to think makes our company stand out from the crowd is our very unique van which converts into our stall, we often get asked about how it was built so here is the inside story.
Our story really begins when we started trading in 2015, we bought a Renault Master high roof van which was a great servant and our stall consisted of 2 gazebos and tables, setting this took a massive amount of time and effort, moving 20 crates of tools in the rain isn’t for the faint hearted, indeed things came to a head one icy morning at Ballysimon car boot sale when Chris slipped from the van and had a nasty fall.
We started to think about a better way to display and transport our goods while also reducing the amount of effort and time spent in setting up, my background is in truck sales and bus operation so I like to think I know a bit about vehicles, we looked at several stalls both here and in England and decided that a purpose converted vehcile was the way to go.
The choice of base vehicle was an easy one, we were very happy with the Renault master and by a strange coincidence I worked for Renault for a few years, we wanted to keep the low floor but wanted a bigger box to work with and after much searching (something which comes natural to me after many years in the motor trade) we found a slightly tired looking but mechanically good Renault Master Loloader in the West Midlands.
I flew over to Birmingham courtesy of Ryanair and a deal was done, our new steed went straight to work and called into Manchester to collect some stock before going up to Durham where our UK lock up and a ver good friend with a coachbuilding business is located.
In the best traditions of coachbuilding schemes were scribbled on envelopes and scraps of paper and and an idea was fashioned around using standard sized crates for display.
The plan involved first of all cutting into the GRP side panels to create a canopy, there was no going back now!
Next ramps were built out of aluminium to accept the display crates which were mounted onto trolleys of which there would be 4 with the rear ones built to the same slope as the front ones once they were lowered to the ground.
The sloping shelves proved a little more tricky to sort and I can be seen deep in technical discussion with John, the upshot of this was that we could accommodate 20 crates which gave us quite a display area in addition to the area above the rear wheels which we have built a collapsible shelf for which stows against the bulkhead for travel.
Next was one of the more challenging aspects of the conversion, we wanted some display space right at the front of the vehicle next to the passenger side cab door, various schemes were discussed including a canvas lean to type of structure but the lads came up with an utterly brilliant cover formed from marine ply which folds flat by very clever hinges, its fair to say we all doubted how this would work but it turned out great.
Here we see the basically finished vehicle with the shelves folded out and a shelf added inside at the back which carries stock crates. It was up to us now to add finishing touches and a means to display stock.
We decided on silver for the vehicle to get away from the white van image, with all the work half the van needed painting and it had a few battle scars from its previous life so it was completely repainted and fitted with a colour keyed front bumper with daytime running lights to complete the makeover, the picture shows it on board the Seatruck ferry Clipper Pace as it arrived into Dublin Port from Heysham in April 2017.
The next job was lettering and the large sides gave great advertising space which we used to the max! With a nod to the tradition of naming our vehicles Celtic ………. which started during our coach operating days we decided to name it Celtic Trader.
The next job was displaying all our wares and even Tony Tiger Barratt got involved!
So here is the finished result and its fair to say we are delighted with everything about the vehicle.
One last job was adding lighting to our van and I installed a 80 watt solar panel on the roof along with a solar controller and a 110AH leisure battery with a split charge relay so the auxiliary battery is charged from the alternator on the road. The lighting consists of 6 of our 10 W LED lights (for sale here!) so we are also green in that we dont have a need for any generators or mains electricity.
So there you have it, the story of a very different vehicle, it lovely to hear the complimentary comments from customers and we make no secret of the fact the business has improved, we hope our display and stock gives people the confidence to buy from us.
Probably the greatest advantage to us is the saving in back breaking work and its lovely to be set up in 30 minutes when other traders can take a couple of hours!