Teen's booming shop and social media presence get him noticed around Cannock
A teenage entrepreneur at the head of a growing Midlands retail empire is recognised in the street for his social media output. How has his market shop in Cannock become the talk of the town, and why do locals love it so?
With its bright blue and yellow sign, you can't miss it. Bag A Bargain is a wholesale-style shop owned by Joe Kilgallon, who's just 19 years old.
He started his business ventures at 11 when he would help his father.
"My dad did the market, and I used to help him out on bank holidays when it was really busy. He's been doing it for 25 years, and last year in February I managed to get my own shop.
"It gets rammed. Good Friday was our busiest ever Friday - mental. You couldn't even pull into the car park it was that busy. People were queuing up just to get in. Saturday was mad, and [Easter Monday] was really busy."
His shop is run out of a business park in Bridgtown, previously taking up one unit but recently expanding into a second: "The guy who was next door is a shop fitter - he used to own both of the units, then he gave up one, which I moved into. He's moved somewhere else now and the landlord asked us if we wanted to expand and have both the units, and I definitely did, I mean I'll have all of them if they come up!
"So for about a month we have had both of them. There's a gap in the wall so you can walk through one shop and into next door.
"We're looking to open another one soon, Stafford way, that's what we're hoping for next. We've always had storage units for my dad's market style shops.
"I thought if I was going to invest in some storage space, why not just push open the door and let people walk in and out? I've stacked some pallets of things outside as well to make the most of the space we've got."
"There are one or two similar places but they don't do the same thing as we do - they sell things that are going out of date for really cheap - but we sell things which still have a long shelf life, and we sell plenty of toiletries too which are popular."
They sell everything from Calvin Klein boxers to KFC crisps, compost to screenwash, even teeth whitening kits and vapes.
They also began selling alcohol recently, when they managed to get a license for it - and it's been flying off the shelves. When asked what the public's reaction was to him stocking alcohol, Joe laughed and said "Oh, it's got a lot busier...
"We've been selling tonnes of it, absolutely tonnes. Like the other day, we got through three pellets of Corona in two days. It was red hot on bank holiday so we got through them in no time."
The best sellers recently, Joe says, were the Corona beers and the Easter eggs they got in - the eggs were sold for 30 per cent cheaper than in regular stores.
He said it's hard to pin down the most popular item: "To be fair, it changes every week! We'll have people come in, trolleys stacked to the roof - 200 quid, 250 quid, one after another, all day on a Saturday and Sunday. All day. They just buy everything."
And it's not just the locals that love his shop: "I have people come quite far to shop here. There's this one couple from Stoke who come in every two weeks on a Saturday without fail, and they spend about 100, 150 quid a pop just stocking up on essentials, and also I think the husband is a bus driver so he stocks up on snacks."
He revealed his American sweet collection on the distinctive white shelves they're usually stored on in regular shops: "Not many places sell American sweets but you can get shops where that's all they sell.
Here's a list of price comparisons on popular items:
Nescafe Gold Blend, 400g: Joe sells it for £4, while Tesco sell half the amount (200g) for £6!
PG Tips, 120 bags: At Bag A Bargain, they're £1. Asda sell 80 for £2.25.
Robinson's Double Strength Squash, 1.75L: £1.50 at Joe's store, with Tesco charging £3.50.
Soft toilet roll, 24 rolls: Joe sells a 24 pack for £6, saving you £2 if you normally shop at Sainsbury's.
Fairy Liquid Platinum washing up liquid, 900ml: At Bag A Bargain, it's £2. Morrisons sell £2 for 625ml.
Persil Capsules, 50 washes: Joe admitted that these are pricey to buy, but customers can still save £1 when they buy it from Bag A Bargain compared to regular supermarkets.
Rice Krispies, 700g Big Box: £2 at Bag A Bargain, £3.50 at Sainsburys.
Monster Munch: While one big bag was selling for £2 in regular shops, Joe was selling nine bags for £3!
His social media presence is one thing that contributes to the queue of customers and Joe's popularity around town. He began recording 'vlogs', in which he would reveal what they stocked up that day, and what the cheapest items are. His first video reached 30,000 views, and has racked up 16,000 likes on Bag A Bargain's Facebook page.
Joe said it was a shock that people recognised him, telling his colleague Sam: "When I went out in Cannock the other day, four people knew who I was. I couldn't believe it!"
Sam, from Cheslyn Hay, said some of the older ladies take a fancy to Joe: "Oh, they chase him round the shop! They say 'Come here, Joe, come here'" she laughed. "He gets scared, bless him." She said she started working there as soon as the shop opened: "I knew them before, and I absolutely love it here. We're like a family here. And what's better is, you don't have to go to the gym! There's always restocking to do because things sell so fast."
Sam said there are certain circumstances where it's busier: "It's actually busiest when it rains, which is strange. Whatever the weather, customers are always coming."