roving canal traders
The Roving Canal Traders Association is the collective voice of roving canal traders. It aims to give advice to old, new & would-be traders, and holds frequent events giving increased opportunities to all floating traders.
A different floating trader - every one a 'character of the cut' - will be presented in each edition of this magazine.
For more information on the RCTA, or to join, please see Website
featured roving canal trader
Fiona Lewis - Fi's fabulous floating emporium
magic created inside the boat for fun on the outside
One of the most colourful characters on the cut is Fiona Lewis, who lives and trades from her narrowboat Calabrese. She is a registered roving trader, with her business very aptly named "Fi's Fabulous Floating Emporium". Fi is currently based on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.
For the past twenty years, Fi has been a self employed Festival / Event Trader, making most of her own stock. She moved onto a boat in 2017, and found it was fairly easy to transfer her creative skills onto the water.
Because of the restrictions currently imposed upon our society, Fi is concentrating upon her online sales, but she is hoping to expand 'Fi's Fabulous Floating Emporium' and also open a floating tuck shop, with hot snacks, 'yummy cakes' and organic squash.
Fi, herself a mother, comes from 'a beautiful large family with lots of lovely nieces and nephews'. In fact, at the last count, she has 19 great nieces and nephews!
She believes she always had a creative streak - probably inherited from her Granny Hedwig. Growing up, she was continually making things from cardboard, fabric or twigs.
When all the girls in the family wanted parties and hair-braids and face-painting were in high demand, one of them (that's Fi and her three sisters) had to learn the necessary skills.
Of course it fell to Fi! She remembers her very first hair braid which took almost an hour to perfect...
Anyway, she got faster, and before long she found herself running her own children's party business.
Fi continued to do well with her party business but it wasn't enough to keep her occupied - she needed something more.
Eventually she decided to create her own stall for selling goods at festivals and other field events.
This meant that as well as the face-painting and braiding, she could now also sell a range of festival clothing and other goods.
This went well for a while, but Fi soon began to realise that many festival stalls ended up selling much the same sorts of goods. She decided she needed something unique so that her stall could stand out from the rest. So Fi began making some of her own stock.
Hats were one of the first things she began to make. They proved so popular, that 15 years later she is still creating them. Understandably, as they are all unique, and as funky as you want them to be. Needless to say, they are among her best selling items!
At the same time, she turned some of her attention to Hula Hoops.
Fi is a qualified Hula Hoop coach and teaches hula hooping. She has taught both children and adults at festivals and, more recently, along the towpath! It's not an uncommon sight to see Fi hula hooping on the roof of her boat...
goods on offer...
- hand made hats from Fi's own designs
- hair accessories - dreads, hair bands, braids
- bags - sourced from India and Fair Trade
- fair trade items - from homewares to clothing (from recent trips to India)
- festival clothing and accessories
- bandanas for dogs
- hula hoops in different sizes
covid restrictions and trading
2020 was almost a write-off for trade, affecting traders on and off the water.
But it was a year in which Fi managed to enjoy her floating home and get some home improvements done too!
"I love my life on the water and the people I surround myself with. I like meeting great characters with great stories to tell."
Fi's Fabulous Floating Emporium is currently based on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.
You can follow Fi on Facebook to see where she is trading, or you can buy from her online.
You can also contact Fi by email
And if you do come across her on the towpath, do stop for a chat. She might even show you how to hula hoop!
previously featured traders
- GillyFlower - the Narrowboat Weaver (Peri)
Individual and unique handwoven textiles made from a mixture of re-claimed and new wools.
To buy online visit Peri's Facebook
- Jelly Gnomes (Lesley Pearson)
Award winning artist. Illustrated canal maps, cards, prints, mugs & gifts.
Visit Website to buy online
- Floating Dolly Lady (Joanne & Steve)
Amazing range of metal birds as well as Russian Dolls.
Buy online by going to Facebook
- Bird Box & Jenny Wren (Andrea)
Host of loving handmade items such as knitwear alongside other gifts such as Bags, Scarves, Rugs, Hats, Jewellery and handmade wooden items.
For mail order go to Facebook
- Canal Art by Julie
Hand painted canal ware and items of canalia such as tea towels, model boats etc.
Please visit website
- Stitch on the Water (Colin & Gillian)
Making a variety of embroidered gifts including cushions for children and adults, Bags, hand tied keyrings, embroidered earrings, cot quilts etc.
Please see Facebook
- Last Night in Limehouse (Zoe)
Individually hand painted luxury dog collars (predominantly for sight-hounds)
Please visit Etsy shop
- Coalcage (Wayne & Rosie)Easier To Light - Easy To Load - Creates A Deep Fire Bed Using Less Coal
Visit Facebook to buy online
- Paw Prints Afloat (Doggie Boat & Tim Clarke Photography)
All manner of doggie essentials: leads, collars, bandannas, portable water bottles & collapsible bowls, plus toys & healthy treats.
- Visit Website to buy online
- Gangplank (Sam)
Cafe/bar. Creator & seller of foraged fruit spirits (Gangplank Gins) cordials and preserves.
- Julie Weir Art
Wildlife Artist who paints with Watercolours & Acrylic inks. Also Online Watercolour School.
- Fern Floating Fine Art (Shiam Wilcox)
Flora & Fauna Artist, prints framed or unframed, greetings cards.
Browse & buy online