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A hypothetical Crafters Co-operative Dream.

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  • A hypothetical Crafters Co-operative Dream.

    Listening to the radio on the way home today about all the High Street shops closing and how rents are being reduced and maybe lower rating can be negotiated I did wonder if it would be possible and practicable to set up a co-operative of crafters to take over one of these large emporiums, divide it up into open units where crafters can work and display their goods. If each crafter was responsible to the councel for their portion of the rates and the site owners for their equal portion of rent and each being responsible for making it a very interesting place for people to visit with demos and anything else that may appeal. Create a warm, friendly and welcoming atmosphere. This could include an open kitchen for cake baking, a cafe perhaps and as many different crafts as possible. It would all be open for customers to wander around at will but the counters would completely encircle each area to keep them away from running machinery.
    OK. Lets hypothetically build on this. Cross the t's and dot the I's so to speak. You never know, it may just turn out to be possible.
    Who's first to offer guidence or advice?
    Carol
    God helps them that help themselves.

  • #2
    This is something I discussed with friends when Woolies went from the high street leaving large shops empty for sometimes years. None of us having the funds to do anything about it, its was pie in the sky. Recently though I have had the same discussion with someone else of like mind who is a dynamo on legs. Turns out she is trying to do something similar on a smaller scale not just for crafters but for all small local businesses together to gain a variety of 'shops' that people will want to come to, a shopping destination, but fresh, local, small, handmade not imported, global, huge and sweatshop produced.

    I still have every detail of our original thoughts in my head, just haven't the courage to jump in with both feet, get the backing and DO IT. Hoping therefore that this whirlwind of a lady will take it on and I will be there to help and support as will others I know. Wish I had that drive and entrepreneurial streak that some others do. Got the ideas just not the guts LOL

    Mo.XX
    Mo. Bodrighy Wood.
    Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage..Lao Tzu.
    www.bodrighy.co.uk
    https://twitter.com/#!/AuntieMornie

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    • #3
      In Taunton there is (or was) a group called Tenovus that had a shop. Mainly fine artists and potters but it was there a long time maybe still is. I would love to see something like this and be a part of it but, like Mo, my get up and go never really got up or went anywhere. Hopefully our manic (in the nicest possible way LOL) friend will get something done. There's enough empty shops around earning nothing for their owners.

      Pete
      "Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art" ... Leonardo Da Vinci
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      • #4
        I do realise it is an idealistic pipe dream but its nice to dream. I also thought if we all threw a few practicalities into it someone might just be tempted to try it. As aco-operative the finances would be born equally anyway so you would have to sort the co-op side out first and then take the next step.
        Last edited by Critchley; 24-01-2013, 06:22 PM.
        Carol
        God helps them that help themselves.

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        • #5
          I live on a housing cooperative and have done for the past thirty years, and trust me, they work.
          We set our own rents,choose our own tenants and do our own with all tenants aiding each other.
          The same priniciple could be applied to a crafters, shoppers cooperative.
          I would love to be a part of one.
          Good luck, Bernie,xx

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          • #6
            I have build the yourartsncrafts.co.uk site to do this online.. A market place co-op... But ran out of time.. Yet another of my 100's of unfinished sites hehehehe.. Reminds me I most look at www.craftfairfinder.co.uk
            .


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            • #7
              Keep up the good work.
              James
              www.facebook.com/CraftyCath

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              • #8
                Hi Carol not so hypothetical, there are lots of co-op's in places you wouldn't expect. I have the priveledge of being born in the "birthplace of co-operation" and I'm sure this is entirely possible. Hard work but possible.

                Here is a useful website to get you going http://www.uk.coop/about
                www.beadtopia.co.uk
                http://www.etsy.com/shop/BeadtopiaStudio

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                • #9
                  Sounds a good idea. A bit like Debenhams for crafters.

                  Location has to be the biggest consideration. Where I live there is something similar, on a small scale. I only went in there once and it was dismal as it had been set up in a dark industrial building which wasn't pleasant. It was opposite Waitrose though, so that should have helped.

                  Needs to be in a touristy area, where people are already milling around and spending time just browsing.
                  Cathy
                  I sew, therefore I am.
                  I apologise in advance for any spelling or grramatical errors, I'm on tablets - no, no - I'm on a tablet.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 0103media View Post
                    Reminds me I most look at www.craftfairfinder.co.uk
                    I've tried a couple of times to sign up on this site and nothing happens - I click on the 'sign on' button and it just does nothing. What am I doing wrong?
                    Kate
                    www.cuckoos-nest-fairs.co.uk

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cuckoos Nest View Post
                      I've tried a couple of times to sign up on this site and nothing happens - I click on the 'sign on' button and it just does nothing. What am I doing wrong?
                      Just tried now and I get the same !

                      Mo.XX
                      Mo. Bodrighy Wood.
                      Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage..Lao Tzu.
                      www.bodrighy.co.uk
                      https://twitter.com/#!/AuntieMornie

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                      • #12
                        It's not finished yet... Many bugs..
                        .


                        Promote your craft site today : Add Your CRAFTS
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                        Fun new blog: Snowboard Stuff

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                        • #13
                          Not quite a co-operative but the same sort of use for the building is Handpicked Hall in Ripon http://www.handpickedhall.co.uk/about-us/

                          They have turned an old department store into a market, and are going to expand to an empty department store in Skipton next.

                          Catherine
                          CatkinJane - Handmade Material Things
                          http://www.catkinjane.co.uk/
                          http://www.facebook.com/CatkinJane
                          Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/CatkinJane
                          Blog http://catkinjane.blogspot.co.uk/

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                          • #14
                            We have a great second hand /vintage /handmade shop made of little shops like a market.. It's pretty big... It would be great to see more on the high street.
                            .


                            Promote your craft site today : Add Your CRAFTS
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                            Fun new blog: Snowboard Stuff

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                            • #15
                              I love the idea of some sort of handmade department store, and have gone as far as looking into the feasibility of taking over a town centre unit to do just that, speaking to the council, landlord and a few people who I thought might be interested in joining together for this.

                              I truly believe the concept can work in the right environment, and with the right people at the helm, but in the end I decided against it. Without wanting to only be a negative nelly, here are the reasons why I didn't go ahead.

                              1. Finances. A lot of people say 'yes, I'll be in'. Fine, but you need to put in £x investment upfront into the co-op for shopfitting, insurance, legals, rates, rent etc. We're running this as a proper business, and as such we should get a solicitor to draw up a cooperative agreement between us. Usual response - 'Sorry, I don't have/don't want to spend that sort of money or make a legal commitment, I'll just take a stall when you're up & running instead'

                              2. Quality control. Anyone and everyone who has ever made anything will want a piece of your shop space. Who is repsonsible for quality control as a co-op. Do you have a 'leader group' who jury the potential 'handmade departments' within the shop. What if someone on the co-op's Aunt Maud wanted a space with her *insert whatever unappealing handmade thing here* - who makes the decision to say yes or no?

                              3. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Take the above issue and apply it to; decor, opening hours, who works on a Saturday, leaflet design, website etc etc etc. Maybe I'm just a control freak, but I like to be the master of my own destiny/opening hours/colour scheme, and not have to agree it with umpteen others

                              4. Who looks after the stalls. In an ideal world, each crafter would be at their own shop during all opening hours, and could lock a door to their 'unit' when they left. In reality, most high street shops are open plan, so the concept works easier with an open shop & single paypoint. If you go into Debenhams, yes, you can pay at the Show bit for shoes, and the kitchen bit for your dishes etc, but it's unusual for any one section to be unmanned, or even closed while others are open.

                              5. Time. Most crafters have a day job too, so might only be able to do the odd day here & there in their 'shop', so is it really a true co-op, if only some are putting in the bulk of the hours? In which case, do the 'leaders' charge commission for those who can't be there. Then it's not really a co-op, it's the same as having stock on a SOR basis in a shop.

                              This sort of idea has worked as a short term pop up shop in Warwick in the run up to Christmas. The shop was only open on a Saturday (I think maybe one or two Fridays too), and was essentially a craft fair inside a town centre shop. I only had a chance to pop in for a couple of minues briefly, but it looked nice albeit it looked like a craft fair in a shop, not a 'shop' in it's own right.

                              One day, I will have my own shop, and I will sell only good quality handmade products. It'll be somewhere between a gallery & a boutique gift shop but I'm afraid I'll do it on my own, and choose what I stock. That dream will hopefully be a reality in about 4-5 years too if all of the many plans I've been plotting away at work out

                              Claire
                              Website; www.midshiresmakers.co.uk
                              Facebook Pages: www.facebook.com/weedoncraftmarket
                              www.facebook.com/craftshoppingexperience

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