There was panic amongst traders and investors in all sectors this afternoon when, after a fairly steady opening, the Stock Market crashed.
The market, comprising nine units selling a variety of clothing, footwear, housewares, cleaning products, foodstuffs, children's toys, gardening supplies, motor products and women's fragrances, opened in the village of Stock, 6 miles south of Chelmsford in Essex, in February, but traders say that, although things were "brisk" in the first few weeks, only seven sales have been recorded at the market since the end of May.
The market will open for the last time next Saturday.
Judy Swagge, who tries to sell cut-price women's fragrances, said:
"I shifted some at first, but fings ain't bin going s'well just lately. I was beginnin to fink people just didat like me cheap perfumes, or it wuz me armpits or sumfin, but everybody's bin feelin the pinch."
Don Puncture, proprietor of Puncture's Tyres, had a similar story to tell:
"I did OK at first, but the bubble's burst. I'm finished. I pumped all I had into these tyres, and now I feel let down. I'm just so deflated."
Other traders were no different. Buxom wench Betty Mandrake, owner of Betty's Baps, put things firmly in perspective when she told us:
"What I don't sell, I end up eating the same evening. I've been eating sandwiches in baps since May. They're starting to get on me tits!"
Timmy Kidd, who sells children's toys on the market, said:
I expected it would be child's play making money here, but it seems that view may have been a little immature. I'm all played-out. Game over!"
Albert Forner, is the man behind Forner's Fauna Corner. He'd hoped that, with the flower-planting season approaching, he might have succeeded in selling seed. His hopes were dashed, however.
"Me and the wife were in office jobs in Kent, but we thought we'd branch out, so we moved and put down roots here. We did mail order flower seeds, and when the business began to grow, to flourish, to blossom, and to bloom, even, we opened up in the market. The future looked rosy, but it's all gone to horseshit, I'm afraid. We're thinking about going into saunas."
Council officials say there was 'huge potential' for the project to work in a village of just over 2,000 residents, but cited "market forces" for its demise. They advise traders who still want to trade, to transfer to Chelmsford Market, where there are still empty spaces available.