Advice for a new trader

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Barefoot Leather
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Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:47 pm

This year I dipped my toe into the world of historic trading (I'm a leather worker) and, despite plenty of online retail experience, very rapidly discovered how little I know.

Credit card machines are still a complete mystery, choosing which shows to attend seems an almost impossible task and as for costume, I was recently described by one silver-tongued organiser as 'looking like an unmade bed'. LOL

This forum seems an ideal place to ask for advice and hopefully save myself from making any more daft mistakes. What advice could you give to someone who genuinely wants to do this well. Which shows should I attend, what technology/equipment do I need and where can I purchase well-made 14th/15th century costume that both looks the part and is sensible 'trader wear'?

All and any advice and suggestions gratefully received so I can get sorted out for the New Year.

Thanks guys,

Ray


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

http://www.barefootleather.co.uk

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steven pole
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby steven pole » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:51 pm

Hi there. Sally Green is a costume trader that most people know. Reasonable prices too.



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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby lucy the tudor » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:04 am

There is so much to ask before we can properly advise, but as a comparative newby myself, only trading about four years, I'd be happy to have a chat with you and help wherever I can ( Not tomorrow or Thursday, as I'm booked both nights, but otherwise, give me a shout - phone number on my website) I can direct you to some good places to ask, and people who can help too.
You are close to Joanna DeSpencer, of Shropshire lavender, who runs a medieval event of her own, and trades at others, she is lovely and would be up for a chin wag too, I'm sure.
We're all a pretty friendly bunch, Welcome 8-)


lucythetudor@gmail.com

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sally
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby sally » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:26 am

Loads of us havent made it into the scary modern world of credit card machines yet, so don't let that put you off in the first few months!

Ive always found the ILHF well worth trading at, its moving to a new venue as of february and I'm not sure how space is looking, but give the organiser a shout and see, its a very friendly show and well attended by buyers



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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Fairfax » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:31 am

I did my first proper year of trading this year, the only advice I am able to give you is: Don't be in a rush, take your time to do a few shows, then see what you need as you go along, I stupidly didn't do this, thought I would need this, that and the other and didn't try them out first, end result was, I had far too much stock,equipment etc. found that my trading tent was far too heavy to erect by myself, thought everyone one in the world would want to buy my product at EVERY event, so over stocked several times, end result was that alot of people didn't actually want to wade through two thousand books in one go. So, I would say to you to start of very small, minum amount of equipment(make sure it's safe and for the purpose). Make sure that your insurance and their policy is kept to the T. wait for at least 6 events to get any new equipment etc. And above all, be adaptable. It has taken me ages to learn that on some occasions, the public LOVE tat, I really didn't want to go down that route but last year, a lot of my takings was from the more affordable, kids pocket money tat and items under £5.00. And above all, make sure you've made the bed before you sell, wishing you all the best and good luck!



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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:58 pm

Many thanks for all the help and suggestions, folks. I'll be in touch with those who offered a chat very soon.

I enjoyed both the ILHF and TORM but would be interested to know how the traders are chosen. Is anyone welcome to attend?

Ray


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

http://www.barefootleather.co.uk

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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Teagirl » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:59 pm

You need to contact the organisers of both the ILHF and TORM, request an application to trade and see what happens. That's what we did when we started out.


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Graham Cooley
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Graham Cooley » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:51 pm

ILHF - Very friendly market and I'm not aware of any restrictions on what you sell or who trades. Market forces are what govern your sales so if you make stuff that people want you will be doing OK. There may be a waiting list but with the new venue you stand a good chance of getting in.

TORM - There is an effort by the organiser to keep the quality of goods up and not have too many of any one trade. Hence you will not find half a dozen armourers which has happened at other markets. There is probably a waiting list for TORM.

Wether you sell cheap stuff or very accurate expensive stuff do your best to know your products and reference them to historic items if you are selling them as reproductions. Be as honest as possible regarding your products. For example we sell pewter and our knowledge continually improves, we have a bellied tankard that when we first strated we could only date to the 18th century and over time we have found earlier examples so we can now date it back to the 14th century. We have a historic range where we are as accurate as possible (given the moulds used in our case). We also have a giftware range for MOPs and those just looking for a present.

We do not take credit cards and we do loose the odd sale but we don't think enough to justify the expense of a card machine. (We only trade at half a dozen markets a year)

Good Luck



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Lord High Everything Esle
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:35 pm

Time will only tell whether you are doing it right.

Costume:
You have seen the traders at TORM and IHLF so that sets a standard for costume. I would agree that inexpensive costume can be obtained from Sally Green. Some traders at indoor events find costume impractical to wear.

Events:
Each event is different and each year is different from the next!! Some will be better for you than others. Be prepared to shell out for unsuccessful events while you try them all out.

Bespoke or Off the Shelf:
There are several different types of traders who cater for different parts of the market - entry level and inexpensive and generally off the self or bespoke and usually expensive but top quality and well researched.

Your Market:
Will you sell mainly to re-enactors and for what period? Do you intend to carry pocket money items for sales to the general public or as inexpensive gifts between re-enactors (this may help you with your immediate event costs and keep the cash flowing)? Are your products suitable for Live Action Role Players, they have their own events and come to some of ours?

Are you selling or exhibiting?
Some traders sell nothing at events but take orders, take measurements and deliver goods to clients. So you may not cover your costs at the events. If you come with new (to us) products you may sell many on the early occasions. You may have saturated the market after a few years. So you need to keep ahead with new developments.

Making a profit
Your business may be only fully functioning after several years so you need to make sure that you have other income in the meantime. You will need to establish a reputation before the business is really successful. In the meantime it may help to fund your hobby. Many of us go home with different stock!!

Stock
Make sure you have a good variety to choose from. You will eventually know what sells at particular events after a while but even afterwards you will still be furious that you did not carry enough of product "A" while you sold nothing of once popular product "B".


Will/Dave, the Jolly Box Man and Barber Surgeon

"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

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J.Watson / Anmod Dracan
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby J.Watson / Anmod Dracan » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:51 am

Lord High Everything Esle wrote:Stock
Make sure you have a good variety to choose from. You will eventually know what sells at particular events after a while but even afterwards you will still be furious that you did not carry enough of product "A" while you sold nothing of once popular product "B".


Tell me about it! First time I made bucklers I took 6 to TORM and sold the lot on the Friday, next time I took 20 and sold 1 all weekend!
:roll:



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Lord High Everything Esle
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:52 pm

J.Watson / Anmod Dracan wrote:
Lord High Everything Esle wrote:Stock
Make sure you have a good variety to choose from. You will eventually know what sells at particular events after a while but even afterwards you will still be furious that you did not carry enough of product "A" while you sold nothing of once popular product "B".


Tell me about it! First time I made bucklers I took 6 to TORM and sold the lot on the Friday, next time I took 20 and sold 1 all weekend!
:roll:


Ah, the mistake you made was lack of exclusivity. A stack of 20 means they are common and thus less desirable!!


Will/Dave, the Jolly Box Man and Barber Surgeon



"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

Barefoot Leather
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:04 pm

Anyone got any suggestions for security at shows? I've seen all kinds of arrangements including tin boxes, wooden tills and aprons worn by the stall holder. They all seem a little bit insecure to me. Having heard some horror stories of pick-pockets and midnight callers I'm starting to think a huge iron-bound wooden chest with a massive lock wouldn't be overkill! LOL How do you suggest I keep 'the money' safe.

Another issue that concerns me is the requirement for demonstrating at shows. I know that if I demonstrate my craft I attract buyers - however, if I attract buyers I can't demonstrate and sell at the same time. How do you folk manage this? Do you all work in pairs? Is one of you a demonstrator and the other a sales person - how does it work?

Thanks again for all the advice,

Ray


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

http://www.barefootleather.co.uk

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Lord High Everything Esle
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:16 pm

Barefoot Leather wrote:Anyone got any suggestions for security at shows? I've seen all kinds of arrangements including tin boxes, wooden tills and aprons worn by the stall holder. They all seem a little bit insecure to me. Having heard some horror stories of pick-pockets and midnight callers I'm starting to think a huge iron-bound wooden chest with a massive lock wouldn't be overkill! LOL How do you suggest I keep 'the money' safe.

Another issue that concerns me is the requirement for demonstrating at shows. I know that if I demonstrate my craft I attract buyers - however, if I attract buyers I can't demonstrate and sell at the same time. How do you folk manage this? Do you all work in pairs? Is one of you a demonstrator and the other a sales person - how does it work?

Thanks again for all the advice,

Ray


While I would love to sell you a huge iron bound chest and a lock I think this may be overkill. I have had my takings stolen once but only because I put them in an accessable place. Now they stay firmly attched to me or my wife. Our audience is generally more honest than at most events.

Demonstrations at shows should be paid for by the organizer either at the going rate or at least for a free stall fee.

When it becomes a problem demonstrating and selling it's time for you to get help but not first time around. Once you have done the circuit you will be in a better position to judge.


Will/Dave, the Jolly Box Man and Barber Surgeon



"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

Barefoot Leather
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:37 pm

I like the idea of a 'going rate' for demonstrating - can you elaborate please?

As I may have mentioned, I have had a season of attending shows (albeit mostly small ones) and the demonstrating thing has already become an issue as I know for certain I can't do both but can still see a requirement. I guess this means I need to recruit a salesperson - or a demonstrator. No problem if the organiser is prepared to pay, but why should they do this when they can see I benefit directly from the activity?

Okay the iron bound chest might have been overkill, but I'm still not sure (despite the obvious and transparent honesty of the customers <grin!>) that carrying a wad of money around on my person is necessarily the best or safest way to do things. Anyone else got any ideas or suggestions? I'm too old and fat to fight off robbers! LOL


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

http://www.barefootleather.co.uk

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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby The Iron Dwarf » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:27 pm

have somewhere to put money that does not look like the sort of place you would put it and have your pockets organised so coins in one, small notes in another and large notes in a 3rd which when that one gets reasonably full you can transfer some when it is quiet to a better hiding place
or use a cashbox that can be fixed to part of your tent

employ someone who is not too old or fat to fight off robbers

the first problem is getting the money from the punters and only if you can do that do you have to worry about holding on to it



Barefoot Leather
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:40 pm

Let me get this right, Having parted the punters from their hard earned wonga, I'll need a coat complete with a secret, multi-pocketed built in wallet and the services of a thin, young (and latently aggressive) demonstrator who can then guard the iron bound trunk, cunningly disguised as a loaf of bread, that I have attached to my tent?

The things I learn on this forum never fail to amaze me. LOL

I will do my best...

Now, what was all that about getting paid to demonstrate?

Ray
Last edited by Barefoot Leather on Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

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The Iron Dwarf
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby The Iron Dwarf » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:04 pm

if you attach the demonstrater to your tent at least they wont be able to slope off to the beer tent instead of working for thier bread



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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:24 am

Another question - they just keep coming...

I'm currently using an estate car to move my gear but it is getting harder to squeeze everything inside (especially tent poles). I don't have storage space for a trailer so feel a high top Renault Master type van is going to be the next move. Would anyone have any recommendations or warnings for me? Is one van better than any other? What do you use?

Ray


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

http://www.barefootleather.co.uk

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Lord High Everything Esle
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:24 am

Barefoot Leather wrote:Another question - they just keep coming...

I'm currently using an estate car to move my gear but it is getting harder to squeeze everything inside (especially tent poles). I don't have storage space for a trailer so feel a high top Renault Master type van is going to be the next move. Would anyone have any recommendations or warnings for me? Is one van better than any other? What do you use?

Ray


Our progression was

Citroen Belingro
Roof Rack
Borrow a bike trailer which buckled under the weight of boxes.
Buy our own trailer
Buy our own big Van

Now we ought to sell the trailer - any offers? approx 6x4x4 box trailer with lift up lid and proper doors. May need a little tender care since its a warehouse at the moment.

I would suggest a roof rack if you dont have one.


Will/Dave, the Jolly Box Man and Barber Surgeon



"Physicians of all men are most happy; what good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth, and what faults they commit the earth coverest." Frances Quarles (1592-1644) Nicocles

Barefoot Leather
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Barefoot Leather » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:06 pm

Got the roofrack, tried the trailer and definitely want a van!

Ray


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps"

http://www.barefootleather.co.uk

LizaTownsend
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby LizaTownsend » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:26 pm

What great replies, Im just about to ask the same question.
Have been coming to events for a while and love them so thinking of taking my stained glass stall to medieval fairs,
any advice and pointers welcome.



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Tod
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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Tod » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:15 pm

Regarding demos. First you need to get top notch clothing, tools and materails. It's no good having 17th century clothing to do 14th century work. Then sell your self to some event or site managers. After a while your reputation will get you the bookings. You will need insurance and a risk assessment.



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Re: Advice for a new trader

Postby Brand » Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:57 pm

Hi guys- as some of you have heard my wife and I are dipping our toes in the water this season- partly as traders, partly as demonstrators/ entertainers- she the storyteller me the pyrotechnician however not sure on best option for insurance- covered for performing and all my pyro stuff but not trading. Not doing many shows this season any ideas on best approach here?

Regards JIM, www.time-travellers.co.uk




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