'I borrowed £20 to set up a market stall - now I have a property portfolio of half a million pounds'

A successful business owner went from borrowing £20 to set up a market stall to raise money for Christmas to owning a property portfolio worth half a million pounds.

After being unfairly dismissed from his job as a solar panel fitter for one of the biggest suppliers in Europe, Scott Oldroyd, 44, used his compensation money to set up his own gardening and landscape business in 2015.

Scott bought a van and some expensive gardening equipment but a very wet autumn in 2018 meant that there was no work and his money was gone. Spiralling into depression, a friend of Scott encouraged him to start making Christmas decorations out of bits of logs and twigs to sell at the market.

Having to borrow £20 to set up the stall, trading on the market got off to a rocky start but steadily took off with the duo making around £3000 that Christmas on decorations they made out of scrap bits of wood.

Scott Oldroyd turned £20 into a half a million pound property portfolio

Today, his business, So Wood Ornamentals, is thriving and he boasts a property portfolio of around half a million pounds, after purchasing the shop’s building and upstairs flats a few months ago.

The shop, which is found on Westmoreland Street in Wakefield, is where Scott makes and sells his wooden creations, all made out of locally sourced materials where possible.

After appearing on the TV, the dad-of-three has sold his art to clients across the UK including in Wales and Bristol. He most notably sold £1000 worth of reindeers to a business in Somerset.

Scott said: “I started off at Wakefield Market in 2018, having borrowed £20 to get the stall going. It was over Christmas and we started selling reindeers and snowmen out of logs.

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“I left the market almost a year to the day and moved into the shop in 2019. I took the risk, and had to borrow a lot of money, to purchase the building off my former landlord. The plan was to always buy the building but we expected it would take five or six years, not within 12 months of being in the shop.”

He added: “I was really struggling in the beginning days on the market, especially during the first three months. People didn’t know us or could trust us but more and more people are now shopping with us and we’re doing things that I never thought I would do.”

Scott made the decision to move from trading on the market to opening his own shop as it made more sense financially to be able to work on his products whilst having a storefront as well as having a number of run-ins with market officers.

He said: “Whenever there is an event in the main precinct, market traders get moved to a side-street and forgotten about. This was happening more and more and I thought it would be better for me to move into a shop where I could make and sell six days a week. I couldn’t make stuff on the market so I was losing two days a week.”

Despite being given a G in his GCSE art exams, Scott has always been interested in art and constructing things out of wood.

As a youngster, he would sometimes work with his dad, who was a kitchen fitter, and would make bird boxes with his grandad in his shed as a little boy.

Scott said: “I used to work with my dad, who was a kitchen fitter and I found out that I hate working in a factory, so I vowed to never work in one again. I had to find something that I love - and I love doing this, it doesn’t feel like coming to work which takes a big weight off my shoulders.

“It was my grandad that influenced me the most, we would build bird boxes and tables every year from his shed. He would have loved to see what I’m doing now.”

Setting up the business also contributed to Scott managing to overcome difficulties with his mental health - namely, depression. “We had a really bad autumn with the gardening business”, he said.

“There was just no work because the weather was so bad and I got myself into a bit of a depression. I sat there day in and day out playing a game on my phone, rather than getting up and doing something.

“Sometimes, if I wasn’t feeling right in the morning, I would get back in bed because I didn’t want to face anything. After losing my van and not working, one of my good friends came around and cheered me up.

“He told me we could make money by selling ornaments out of wood found in a field, so we made reindeers and snowmen out of logs. We made about £3000 that Christmas.”

With two sons and a daughter, Scott’s middle child already has his eyes set on taking over his dad’s business. “My son, Archie, is twelve and is already keen to take over when he leaves school”, the entrepreneur said.

Following the success of the business, the family is gearing up to move homes, where each kid will get their own bedroom and Scott will have access to a pond nearby to fish.