FROM the very start of young high achiever Daniel West's Eumundi Markets experience, he had rocks in his head ... and on the table for sale.
He was nine at the time and Daniel saw his hand-decorated pet rocks as a capital idea to forging ahead in life as a market stallholder.
And they were a hit - especially with the visiting Asian tourists who loved the little toothpicks held by the rock characters bearing flags that said "Noosa".
Now the enterprising former Noosa District State High School captain of 1994 is returning to Australia's leading outdoor marketplace where he cut his entrepreneurial teeth, to take over the role of market manager recently vacated by high profile Noosa identity Peter Homan.
After looking after two million visitors a year, Peter has headed out to some wide open spaces as general manager of the Outback Queensland Tourism Association, based out of Longreach.
His departure is Daniel's chance to finally juggle all his life experiences and passion into a special place so close to his heart and home.
"I'm genuinely thrilled to return to the Sunshine Coast, and the town and market I grew up in," Daniel said last week as he prepared to help use his personal experiences immersed in this special market culture to benefit the town. It really feels like coming home.
"As a stallholder, beginning with pet rocks, I have gained the insight into market culture and market life. I only sold my most recent market stall less than 12 months ago, so it's been 28 years as a stallholder for me.
"That last stall was coffee and pancakes...they're always a winner. My parents still do pancakes here in this market and my brother does coffee, so it's in the blood.
"I've done everything from garden gnomes, to ferns to palms to t-shirts, to breads to cakes and slices, to orange juices and skin care products to juggling equipment..."
And that takes Daniel, 37, back to a dark turn of events, that had a silver lining. Back in 1996 he was set on fire while sleeping in a park off from Hastings St.
"Afterwards I got work with one of the stallholders who taught me how to make the juggling equipment and from there I went on to do a juggling act as phsyio...it kept me active and kept me moving," Daniel said.
"I really left the Coast 16 years ago and I've been trying to get back here ever since really."
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