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Advice needed please...still licking wounds

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  • Advice needed please...still licking wounds

    Hi All..
    I have asked questions on here before and always found it helpful, so here wounds are still stinging from this experience..(sorry in advance for the logevity of this post, but all details are relevant)

    Our daughter was recently assessed as disabled and with difficulties myself, along with recent redundancy, I decided to take the plunge and turn my card-making hobby into a business to be able to be at home..
    I approached the organiser of a local farmers market who asked me for some samples, which I gave to her, along with a copy of my brochure/catalogue...

    She agreed to give me a trial at the market and issued me with some contracts/paperwork, explaining that each stall had to only sell what was agreed, therefore enabling her to keep a good selection of stalls available..
    I also had to provide public liability insurance for myself and proof of this, along with literature stating my business details etc...this all came at an initial cost of around £300 to set-up, which I hoped to recover over the coming months.

    I did my first stall with my cards in July..(the market is held on the first saturday of each month)..I was very pleased to make a turnover of around £50 on that first day and had many compliments about my stall and the cards I had. On my left was a lady selling fruit and on my right was a gent selling books.
    At the end of the morning (market run from 9.30am - 2.30) the organiser came around to collect the £20 stall fee. I asked her if she was happy with what I had brought and if everything was okay?..She said she was delighted and asked if I would like to have a regular stall. I said that I would and that I was more than happy with the day.

    However....I did my second stall there yesterday (August) and the whole thing was different, as to my left, there was a stall which was selling a dolls house, doll house furniture, knitted items and pictures, along with wooden toys. I actually complimented the gent setting up the stall on the high quality of the furniture being hand-made..he openly admitted to me that it was bought in items which he had left over from a shop clearance...
    Following this he produced some hand made cards and laid them out on the front of his stall...The book seller to the right of me also had a small number of hand-made cards on his stall, along with pressed flower pictures...then my friend came along to see how I was doing and told me that the flower stall was also selling some cards!

    When the organiser came around to collect the payment, she had told me to tell her if there was any problems, so I asked her about firstly the stalls selling cards when she had told me that no-one else would be and then asked about the sale of brought in goods, explaining that I was concerned and a little put-out...she answered this by stating that ALL products were hand-made and that the other peole were simply selling cards in order to 'make ends meet'..this was totally against the initial remit I was given..before I could contest this however, she explained that she had concerns regarding my stall...
    Taking one of my decoupage cards, she asked me to explain 'how is this hand-made?'...I explained in detail how I had designed and made the card...she asked where the image had come from and I explained that it was a 'paper-nation' decoupage sheet...she told me that this was not acceptable as hand-made and that I really needed to have drawn it myself..I held that the design was mine and that I had hand cut all components and hand folded it all....etc...she explained that she felt that my designs were 'too neat and exact to be hand cut and that due to this she was unsure as to weather I had 'bought the cards in' and that she felt I was basically trying to sell them as hand-made by myself when they were not and were mass basically I was being penalised for making my cards too well!!!!....
    She told me that she had a lady who makes jewellery who has asked for a stall and felt it appropriate that the stall was given to her as she made all her jewelery by hand..which I contested, saying that unless the lady found, polished and shaped each stone, I could see no difference between that and buying my decoupage sheets....
    Anyway, the long and short is that I will no longer be having a stall unless she chooses to email when she has one available...and this may be at short notice!
    Any advice would be welcome, regarding anyone who has had these experiences and what they did next?...I need to make this business idea work and refuse to lie down and curl up...I need ideas as to how to sell as a sole trader, either how to approach shops or other outlets, along with the best way to safeguard against this sort of thing in future, as I know that the farmers market works well in theory and practice with compliments and interest and sales...Is there any advice out there on how to turn this around..I know my cards are good ones, as I never have problems selling them....PPLEASE HELP!!!...I was so angry yesterday and hurt, but now I am simply looking to turn the whole episode into something positive...

    Thank you!
    Nutty Tigger (in progress)

  • #2
    Good grief!! I think that reading between the lines there is an element of jealousy there. I wonder if she has regulars and were jealous of the custom you got?????? It all doesn't seem fair to me after you parted with all that cash. I would go to the Citezens Advice Bureau about it all. She broke her contract with regards to the number of stalls selling cards. Hope you can sort it out! Good luck!! Sue xx


    • #3
      OMG that's awful my first bit of advice would be to tell the organiser where to stick it if she does call you with the offer of a table again. Sounds to me like the other stall holders saw your cards selling well and decided 'I'll have a bit of that'. Also sounds like they might be regulars and perhaps it's a bit clicky which is why you've been turfed out rather than them being told to remove their cards. It might not feel like it now but I think you're better off out of there.

      Just a few ideas which you may or may not have already considered....

      Any other farmers markets local to you?
      Draw up a list of hairdressers, florists, beauticians, hotels, independent gift shops etc to approach.
      Team up with a jewellery maker and hold joint card & jewellery parties.
      Can't think of any more at the mo but I know others will have plenty of good ideas.

      But please don't let this get you down, like you say you know your cards sell and it might take a bit of work finding the right outlet but I'm sure you'll get there in the end.

      Good luck
      Visit Natty Netty for a huge selection of Iris Folding supplies


      • #4
        How sad that you have had a bad experience like this when you are doing your best to make an honest living. Firstly I think I would check the contract that she gave you to see what rights you have to a regular stall. I think it is often quite hard to break into these type of markets as there are established traders working at them. I agree that maybe you could start building up a customer base through holding parties to sell your cards. If the organiser felt your work wasn't handmade it must be really special so don't give up. i wish you luck.


        • #5
          So sorry to hear you had a bad time and i would agree with getting some legal advice on what you rights are , if you signed a contract stating only yourself would be able to sell cards and others were not allowed to sell cards then im sure the person running the market is breaking the contract !!

          I know its a bit away yet but i would find out if your local schools are having xmas fairs and maybe get your name in there early !!

          all the best
          Sara x
          allabouteden blog


          my folksy shop


          • #6
            I used to go to a monthly church hall craft fair with my handmade cards (and a few other things). All different ones so it didn't matter when the others started doing cards too. The organizer of your place sounds a right moo and seems to have changed the goalposts to suit herself. It may be worth trying it one more time, to see what happens though?. It may also be worth doing a few small fairs a month rather than one main one, that's what I plan on doing, although that does depend on whether you have a few villages near you and you have the transport to get there. Like janet said your cards sound pretty special if she thought that, so don't let that one person get to you. Keep at it and good luck
            Facebook page, Cottage Charms & Cards:


            • #7
              I had a similar thing happen to me Nutty, my first (and I have only done two) fair, I was told I would be the only stall with crystal gemstone jewellery - there were three of us!! But I hadn't signed anything or been given a contract - it's the age old saying "one bitten twice shy" I wont be going to any events organised by that person again.

              Good luck with your cards, it sounds like they are really good.



              • #8
                ok.. so this is sort of the start of the business..

                You need to look at what you have done so far as research..

                In no way do any of us get it right first time.

                Some fairs and markets have really bad management but you sell a lot and have to deal with the awful management vs the lovely management and no sales..

                When I used to apply for jobs and go to interviews I always applied for the best first ... This was a massive mistake for me as the interview technique took 3 interviews before I became 100% confident.

                On avg a UK business takes 3yrs before you make a profit.. Why research..
                The really positive thing you must take from this is you can sell and your cards do sell.. Now go find a new outlet

                Hope that helps..

                Promote your craft site today : Add Your CRAFTS
                (£5.50 a month or £50 per year)

                Fun new blog: Snowboard Stuff


                • #9
                  My local farmers market is run by the parrish council and is so festidious that they refused to let me have a stall initially. I had to appeal. The rules are in black and white and pinned up at every market. They state that 80% of the life of a product must have been in my care and created by me. I cannot buy anything in with out significant upgrades being hand done by myself. eg.. I buy shopping bag blanks and decorate them. My jewellery is completely made by me and my cards are hand painted and drawn.
                  Each market an inspector checks the stalls. The market is an accredited market and is annually checked by the farmers market association.
                  As stall holders we moan about the fussyness, but to be honest and in everyones opinion, we are very very lucky that it is the model market because in the long run it values us and protects us.
                  I used to do another market called "a farmers market" but is was allowing bought in products and basically over time it resembled a cheep inner city market. I left!
                  I think that a market is only as good as the people running it and it sounds as though the standards are not maintained.
                  Under our market policy, your decoupage cards would be allowed.
                  I would write to the organising comittee and outline your concerns in a friendly manner (after all do you want to go back again?)and if you have copies of your paperwork them use it to back your case up. Ask for a response to the fact that the man clearly stated he buys the furniture in. (Does he then decorate and enhance it as theis would then mean he was hand finishing and might get away with the product on that ground)
                  If the market is accredited, then you could simply write your concerns to the farmers market association.
                  As far as the other stalls selling cards, you can state your case, but you may find that they won't budge. Although our 3 craft stalls (the percentage allotted by farmers market association) are protected and unduplictaed, there are three veg stalls, 2 cheese stalls, 2 bakers, 3 butchers etc.
                  I sell a few cards and the artist who has a stall also sells cards. we both have no issues with this as they styles of cards are different and the clients can choose the style they like.
                  full time mum and very very part time crafter.


                  • #10
                    Very sorry to hear of your experience and I think the others have said all I would have to say, but don't let it get you down. As you sold well on your first outing your cards are obviously well received and you must build on that. Getting known in the local community is important on starting up and any fetes etc locally with spaces would be worth trying. People buy and then get used to seeing you around. I did a fete yesterday which was quite slow, but it was local and several people were people who had bought from me previously and came back because of that. Keep smiling and keep persevering. Even when things are going well you will have off days - the days no one seems to want to buy cards - but a business takes time to get going. Good luck.


                    • #11
                      I think you have to be prepared for other people selling the same things as you - especially with cards and jewellery as they're so many at fairs. But if she had specifically said there were not going to be others selling cards then that is out of order!

                      Sounds like she was backed in a corner and came out guns blazing - I expect she only started saying that about your cards becuase she realised she had done something wrong.

                      It is very hard as their are a limited number of fairs out there and a regular gig is always good - but not if you're not going to be able to make a profit so just keep looking for other places you could go to - or set up your own fair - that'll show her!!

                      Don't let it get you down anyway!

                      Good luck x

                      Diamond Ideas



                      Diamond Ideas is also on facebook!

                      Go on, add some sparkle to your project!


                      • #12
                        Sorry to hear about what happened. I wonder if the organiser felt under attack so decided to turn the tables on you, which would distract you from asking any more difficult questions. And I guess if you've signed a contract which contradicts what is now happening, it might be easier if she can find a reason to say you broke the rules, rather than letting you say she did.

                        But, like other have said, do take the positives from this, that you initially sold very, very well.



                        • #13
                          What can I say except a huge thank you to everyone for the words of wisdom sent to this thread and I have taken all of this on board..

                          I realise that it takes time to get up and on my feet and wont happen overnight...hence why I was starting small in an effort to learn to walk confidently before trying to run..

                          I think the comment made above about farmers markets is synonymous witht he type of market being run here and I have noticed the organiser cutting back on craft stalls...maybe she is trying to gain approval for some form of official farmers market group...however, I am confused about this post, as it states that my decoupage cards would not be allowed on the grounds of using pre printed sheets which are then cut and formed..compared with the dolls house guy who would be allowed if he had 'hand-finished' the items by painting them etc...I dont see the difference between hand finishing that and hand finishing a decoupage sheet...

                          I am beginning to realise that the whole thing is a bureaucratical nightmare and that even this area (craft) has not escaped the currnet climate of red tape, regulations and PCness....lord help us eh?

                          Thank you though for all of your words of encouragement and advice on how to move forward....I didnt envisage such a response...

                          Nutty Tigger

                 (in progress)


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nutty tigger View Post
                            What can I say except a huge thank you to everyone for the words of wisdom sent to this thread and I have taken all of this on board..

                            I realise that it takes time to get up and on my feet and wont happen overnight...hence why I was starting small in an effort to learn to walk confidently before trying to run..

                            however, I am confused about this post, as it states that my decoupage cards would not be allowed on the grounds of using pre printed sheets which are then cut and formed..compared with the dolls house guy who would be allowed if he had 'hand-finished' the items by painting them etc...I dont see the difference between hand finishing that and hand finishing a decoupage sheet...

                            Sorry, it does read a little waffely! I actually said that you would be allowed the cards at our market.
                            TBH I don't think the guy with the dolls house stuff would ever be allowed on our market.
                            full time mum and very very part time crafter.


                            • #15
                              We tried a car boot sale the other week. Although most of the money we made was from other stuff we sold (having a clear out!) we did sell a few cards. So we decided to give it another try last week. We got there and set up and everything was fine. The people parked next to us had come and parked there car to reserve their spot then left, and came back to set up about 2 hours later. Out of the back of the car came stand after stand of cheap nasty mass produced cards - they were 5 for £1!! We obviously couldnt compete with that price, so didnt even try to, and consequently didnt even sell one card all day! The lady next to us sold thousands though! Not that im bitter or anything . Anyway, the point of this story is, sometimes you win sometimes you loose. Did you sell much the second week? You could try and sell some things on dawanda and etsy and sites like that. But basically, just keep trying! Another idea I had was to make 'make your own card' kits. Put in all the little bits that you would use to make the card, like the toppers and a piece of card, and an envelope, and little foamy sticker things etc. and sell them to kids! I havnt tried it yet so I dont know if it will actually work....
                              I like to make things - usually a mess!
                              Please look at my stuff and let me know what you think!