As It Happens

U.K. town council says produce seller Wayne Bellows is too loud, orders him to pipe down

Like his parents and grandfather before him, Wayne Bellows has carried on the family name — and legacy — by shouting at market to sell his fruits and vegetables. But the local council says he must stop due to complaints.

Bellows' family has been shouting to sell fruits and vegetables from their market stand for nearly 100 years

Wayne Bellows comes from a long line of bellowers — his family has been using the technique to draw customers to their fruit and vegetable stand for a century. (Karalyn Bellows)

Read Story Transcript

For nearly 100 years, the Bellows family has been doing exactly what their name suggests: bellowing.

Their family business is selling fruits and vegetables at a market on England's south coast. And, as is the British tradition, they shout to lure in customers.

But now Wayne Bellows has been ordered by the local town council to pipe down. But he's not taking the gag order quietly.

Bellows spoke with As it Happens guest host Susan Bonner from Totton, England. Here is part of that conversation. 

Wayne Bellows and his mother (lower left) tend the family's produce stand in Ringwood Market near his hometown of Totton, England, c. 1980. (Submitted by Wayne Bellows)

Mr. Bellows, just how loudly do you shout at the market?

Very, very loud. 

I think it wakes people up. Don't you?- Wayne Bellows

What kinds of things are you yelling at your customers?

I'm selling all my wares. All fruits and veg. Tomatoes, strawberries, cauliflower, bananas, you name it. In fruit and veg, we'll sell it.

All right. I would like to hear your shout, if you don't mind. Gimme one of your best pitches.

One of my best pitches? OK then: "OLLY, OLLY, OLLY! COME AND BUY THE CAULI!"

All right, that's cauliflower. What else have you got? How about brussels sprouts?

Ehh. Brussels're all right. Now it's the wrong time o' the season, brussels. It's strawberry season now in England.

I read in one of the British newspapers that your voice can reach 100 decibels. That's about as loud as a rock concert!

(Laughs). Very loud!

Is it necessary to shout that loudly?

Well, not really. Sometimes I don't shout loud. Sometimes I do. I'm deaf in one ear. So, you know. It's one of those things. We shout.

The local council has told you that you are no longer permitted to shout in the morning. What did you think when they told you that?

I think it wakes people up. Don't you?

Well so then it's a fair request?

It's a fair request, yes. We're gonna do it in the afternoon in the summer. 'Cause it's always busy on a Saturday in the summer where we go, at Lymington. Lymington is one of the affluent places in the south of England. Very wealthy area. They grow the most amazing strawberries in the country. 

This market, I understand, has been around for hundreds of years.

Eight hundred years, yeah. 

And you come from a long line of shouters, do you?

Yes. My granddad — I think he started in the 1920s, my granddad did. Then he went to war, and came back and done it again. Then my mother, and my dad. My brother done it. 

I'm not giving up shouting. That's my livelihood. If I don't shout, I don't sell. I don't earn no money.- Wayne Bellows

So if this has been going on hundreds of years, why do you think people complained now?

I don't know. I think they ain't got nothing else in their lives to moan about, really. I think 99.9 per cent of the people wouldn't moan. You do get the odd one or two, you know what I mean? And you only need one, and the council's got to follow it up.

Wayne Bellows (Karalyn Bellows)

Well are you going to raise your voice on this issue with the council?

Yes. We're having a meeting on the 28th [of April]. And everybody else is fully supportive. They're the old country.

So what are you expecting at the council meeting?

We're gonna have a compromise. I'll shout in the afternoon. I'm not giving up shouting. That's my livelihood. If I don't shout, I don't sell. I don't earn no money. It's a big tradition in this country, selling your wares on the market.

Written by Kate Swoger and Kevin Ball. Interview produced by Kate Swoger. Q&A edited for length and clarity.

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