From a stall to a shop?

18 Feb 2013

We have reached the end of the 12 week period for the We LoVe Crafts market stall. It closed last Saturday and everything was dismantled and taken away. It left me with an uncertain feeling as the plans are to turn it into a permanent shop, so it’s not an ending but it feels a bit odd to know it’s no longer there. To be honest, I won’t miss being there in temperatures of 8ºC for 6 or 7 hours at a time! I told all the makers that I’ll be in touch again when I know the details of the shop so it’s nothing more than a break until the next part is ready to go.

Regarding that, I was shortlisted for the Idea2Reality competition and attended the first workshop last Friday. This was to listen to presentations about writing a business plan and to find out the things we need to know. We didn’t have to do anything ourselves there but it was a useful day. Over this week, we will work on draft plans and attend the next workshop on Friday which is more about how to pitch our ideas for the judging panel. The final plans need to be submitted by 4 March and the decisions will be made by the 8th, so not long to wait, which is always good.

Otherwise, I need to get to work on ordering things for the organic garden. It turns out that we’ll have access to over £3000 in funding, which is really great but considering I wanted to show how resourcefully we could make this project work, it’s been difficult to think of what to spend the money on! There have actually been some things which are unavoidable, like concrete and mortar for the shelter and tool shed and things like polytunnels and propagators would be valuable items that we probably wouldn’t be able to get donated. I need to get a list together quickly for that before the money becomes unavailable so I plan to order some things in bulk so we will have some things ready for future gardens as well.

On another note, I will be giving a talk at the Wolverhampton Philosophy Society at the City Bar, King Street on Tuesday at 7.30 to discuss my philosophy of the Hypothetical Government and what it would entail.

22 March 2013

Sorry again for not writing for a while. As the updates go on Twitter and Facebook, I tend to concentrate on those. However, I feel I should give a round-up of what’s happened over the last month.
The shop proposal didn’t make it to the final of Idea2Reality, which everyone was shocked to hear. Many people had their reservations about the competition but I don’t want to got into it here. Instead, it’s more important to move on and plan the next step. Before I knew of the competition, I was planning to open it anyway so right now, I have partnered up with Belinda, who is a local artist and had works on sale on the market stall. She has plenty of experience with working in this area as she has run her own gallery and studio for 4 years as well as working in Birmingham’s Bull Ring market.
We are looking into getting a shop in the city centre for the original purpose and are currently waiting for some news on that, so I won’t go into any details yet in case things have to change.

In terms of the organic garden, we went through a slow period, while some peope we had to contact were away from their offices and so on, but things are starting to move forward again now. I have put in spreadsheets for items to buy with the funding we have, which has turned out to be a luxury of riches, in a way! This is because of the plans to do things for as little money as possible so I am going to order multiple items that are useful for a garden, so that when we set up the next one, we’ll already have items to use.
We’re also organising moving the garden tools we’ve been given and the glass from the school so it’s closer to the site as well as getting ready to have the land cleared.
I also received a phone call from someone from the council who informed me that the history of the site shows that there was no industry there at all and it has always been a natural area, therefore it is unlikely there will be any contaminants, such as heavy metals in the soil. This will save money and time so that’s a positive.

Regarding the herb garden, we have run into problems there as Severn Trent Water, who have seen our plans after we planned to ask them for funding help and have now decided they want to buy the land for redevelopment. This doesn’t leave us very happy of course and it may now be the case that we have to look for another site.

12 April 2013

I am very happy to announce that, after We LoVe Crafts was piloted on the indoor market, we have taken it to the next level and opened a shop in the Mander Centre. It is on the ground floor in St. John’s Arcade, next to Home and Living. It opened on Saturday 4th May.

As before, it sells a wide range of arts and crafts that are handmade by people living in the Wolverhampton area only. The reason for this is to show that it is properly local and giving work opportunities to local people. If, for example, people in somewhere like Telford or Birmingham think it’s not fair that they can’t sell their work here, hopefully it will inspire them to open the same kind of place in their locality! (And we will help you to do that through advice.)

Hence, if you want to be involved, the only requirements are that you live in Wolverhampton or a neighbouring area and you make things that are good enough to have on sale. We will not, however, sell anything that uses another company’s design, name or image (for legal reasons and also that we want the things that we sell to be unique). There will not be an online version of this as we want people to get out there and really be a part of this community.

We will certainly welcome makers that are maybe new to the scene, too. All you need to do is show us what you make and if it looks good enough, it will go on the shelves! There will be only a simple agreement that states that you will need to insure your own works (if you feel you need to).

Also, if you’re a local musician, we will be happy to sell your music for you.

There is a monthly fee of £5 to help us cover overheads and help the business to stay open. We want this to be a minimal amount that hopefully won’t affect you in any serious way. To be upfront about this, the shop staff are currently earning between 2 and 3 pounds an hour, so less than half minimum wage. In these early stages we need this assistance and so this is not up for negotiation at this time.

Update: 7 August 2013: We are looking for new work but are mostly only considering things that are different to what we currently have on sale.

We would very much like to have craft workshops taking place in the shop so please get in touch if you are interested in doing those. There’s a nice mezzanine-type area which is ideal for that. We have a foldaway table and 8 chairs and you will be able to use the workshop space for free.

The emphasis is on fairness and giving opportunities to local people so the shop works on the ‘sale or return‘ method. This means you can decide on the sale price, knowing that if it sells you will receive two-thirds of that price. It doesn’t matter if you make things that are cheap (less than a fiver) or works of art that cost hundreds of pounds. We want to have as diverse as possible a range of works on sale to keep customers interested and to cater for everyone. The only issue is, as I saw on the stall, it may be that certain types of items are not really selling so we may not take in more of that kind if that is the case. However, we will be open to trying most things out so please don’t be nervous about asking! This shop is here for you!

Note, this shop is no longer open but we now operate at the Light House media centre. See the site for details.

This venture is all about taking control of our own future and hopefully, this will be the case over time for a lot of people. If you would like to contact us about selling your works, please send some example photos to and some information about what you do.

If you contact us and we agree to have your work on sale, please bring it along to the shop as soon as you can.

There is more information on the next page for those of you who will be selling your work through us.

Click here to read the full philosophy behind We LoVe Crafts.

 

 

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