CAM TRADER CALL!

After a bumper Christmas, we are pleased to say that we are now finally starting to take on new traders for the CAMhub.  Apologies to those people who have been waiting a long time for a response from us regarding this issue.  We are going back through all trader enquiries from over the last 3 months and will be responding to everyone over the next couple of weeks.  Please feel free to email us again even if you have already done so before.

If you are interested in becoming a trader in the CAMhub, please carefully read the T&Cs detailed below.  To receive an application form, please email chorltonartmarket@gmail.com, with the subject title TRADER APPLICATION.  The closing date for all applications is Wed 1st Feb.

 

CAM Hub Terms & Conditions – Jan 2017

1 – Rental fee is £65 p/month.  This includes a 6x2ft gridwall or shelf spaces, plus additional space for greetings cards.  There is a 17% commission fee on all items sold.

2 – Traders must sign up for an initial 6 month period, with the first month free of charge.  This contact has the option to be extended for a further 6 month period, if agreed by both parties.

3 – Rent must be paid on the 1st of each month by standing order.  A £10 penalty fee will be incurred if payment is more than 3 days late.

4 – By the 3rd of each month you will receive an email with your previous month’s takings, plus a breakdown of items sold. All takings will be paid by the 7th of each month.

5 – Ensure that your spaces are fully stocked at all times – you must come into the shop at least twice a month to restock and remerchandise.

6 – Ensure that all your stock is clearly price labelled, including your trader code on the back of each label.

7 – We ask all traders to publicise and promote the shop, preferably through some form of social media.   Please post your own photos and like and share other trader’s photos.  We are currently on Facebook, Instagram (Chorlton Art Market) and Twitter (@popupshopsuk).

8 – To retain exclusivity of products and to maximise your sales potential, we ask that CAM traders do not have the same products stocked elsewhere in Chorlton.

9 – We are continually on high alert for shop lifters, but we cannot be held accountable for any items stolen from the shop.

10 – Failure to adhere to these terms may result in your contract being terminated.

 

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Supporting Independent Businesses is for Life, not just for Small Business Saturday.

Today was Small Business Saturday and, despite us being a small business, we did nothing to promote this new High Street ‘tradition’.

The concept of Small Business Saturday was introduced to the UK from the USA, with the first event taking place in December 2013.  This was the year that I started the Chorlton Art Market and so I was involved with helping to promote the concept of encouraging people to shop at independent business for this one day.  This slightly patronising idea about shopping at ‘small businesses’ for one day out of 365 is my first issue with the idea of Small Business Saturday.

My second problem with SBS is the fact that it is actually a PR exercise by American Express, cleverly disguised as a social enterprise movement.  Since the age of 13 I have worked in various roles within independent business and I can’t recall any of those places accepting American Express payments due to higher processing fees than other cards.  We do not accept American Express at CAM for this reason.

I am not entirely convinced that Small Business Saturday does actually make people any more likely to shop at independent businesses than they would do usually.  I may well be wrong, but I quite simply haven’t had the time or the inclination to do any kind of promotion for it this year.

Promotion that does work well for a business like ours is, of course, consistent and regular social media updates and information.  Unfortunately at the minute our social media presence is pretty much dormant.  Due to a few unexpected events over the last couple of months, we have been preoccupied with other issues which has left the social media stuff being side-lined at a time of year when we should really be pumping up the volume.

BUT!…Even if we haven’t posted a slightly filtered photo on Instagram, or shared a tweet for a couple of weeks this doesn’t mean that the CAMhub isn’t as completely awesome as always – it simply means that we are crazy busy and trying to prioritise!  Making the shop work economically and ensuring that our artists are making good money, serving our customers 6 days a week and simply doing all the paperwork is not an easy task (as well as maintaining the basic requirements of 2 small humans) so please be understanding if it seems that our social media-ness is a bit quiet.

Right now the shop is absolutely jam-packed with an eclectic hoard of carefully selected giftware for all ages, along with the work of our amazing artists.  And if this wasn’t enough for you, Autumn’s Vintage Boutique is looking better than it ever has done, thanks to the hard work of our wonderful vintage ladies.  As a special treat for our customers, the vintage traders have come together to organise a special shopping day, taking place on Sunday 4th December – more info here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/365475820457367/

So come down, get yourself styled to vintage perfection and get all your Christmas shopping done under one roof with a glass of Jay’s famous mulled wine in your hand.  You can always support a small business, even if it isn’t Small Business Saturday!

 

 

 

So, does charity begin at home?

In one sense I am feeling slightly guilty because I am currently shouting out about the negative aspects of charity shops and I am fully aware that this can, on evilfacebook at least, make me seem like a bit of an arse. I am not in any way against charity shops on the whole. Whilst at university, I volunteered at an Oxfam Bookshop (partly cos I wanted to do ‘something good’, but partly because I wanted to try and get some of my expensive course books cheap!). Without charity shops, my daughter would of spent the first couple of years of her life naked and without any of her own books. Her cot, moses basket and pram all came from charity shops. I know first hand how essential they are to a huge proportion of the population.

But…there is another issue going on here. Every highstreet in the UK now has numerous charity shops, and many towns (including my own) has charity businesses with more than one retail premesis. As other vast chains expand from city centres into suburbs and small market towns, our highstreets are very quickly becoming identikit centres, often resembling an airport departure lounge. As independent businesses struggle to compete with online shopping, British Red Cross and British Heart Foundation are poised on the sidelines ready to jump into their graves to sell you a Primark jumper for more than it cost brand new.

One of the many reasons that charity shops are spreading so quickly is because they pay just 20% business rates and so are easily able to pay above the market rental rate, despite having huge incomes. Because of this, charities are able to secure prime town-centre locations which independent and start up businesses could only dream of. (I would like to register my family as a charity and pay 20% of our council tax please. Then, using the money saved, we could move into a penthouse suite in Beetham Tower. That would be nice).

The Welsh government are ahead of the game. In 2013, they recognised the negative impact on socio-ecomonic issues connected to the rapid spread of charity shops and proposed that instead of an 80% reduction, charities should pay half the business rates. If independent/start up businesses were able to do the same, even just for the first 6 or 12 months of trading, then the current state of the highstreet would be markedly different.

I live in a town with a rich and varied cultural history – it is both the birthplace of Dangermouse, as well as the childhood home of the BeeGees amongst many other things. When I first moved here, Dave Lister lived round the corner – Dave Lister! (the 25 year old me was just as excited by this fact as the 12 year old me would of been). It is a town filled with creative people and interesting characters. And so it amazes me that, whilst people are prepared to pay three hundred grand for a 2 bedroomed house, they are willing to sit back and watch their town centre fall into decline and not take direct action. As council tax contributors, we all, in a sense, own our town centres, yet the majority sit back and do nothing to keep hold of what makes our towns our homes . And as a mother, I feel very strongly that I should fight hard to ensure that my daughter will continue to grow up in a place with a strong sense of community.

This is all sounding slightly off message now, but it is all relevant. I accept and understand the need for change, but some of the changes that have developed in the last decade do not benefit social progression. The steady rise of charity shops is just one of many factors which has changed the face of the UK’s highstreets in the 2 decades I have been a direct consumer, but it is only recently that I have really given thought to the consequences of this.

You can read a little more about how this issue is personally affecting me and a whole bunch of amazing folk here: https://www.change.org/p/the-greater-manchester-pension-fund-please-let-cam-stay-where-is-is. Please sign to show your support to people with big dreams. And if you want to hear what I’m trying to say in a much more eloquent way, please listen to the words of the legendary Harvey Andrews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEgmRLaG-F0

Thank you.

It has finally happened!

Its hard to actually believe, but after months of stress and work, the Chorlton Art Market Hub is finally open! Even up until the day before I still wasn’t 100% sure it was going to happen, but somehow it all came together at the last minute.

I am very happy that the shop is now a reality, but I’m angry about how hard it was make happen. I’m in no way adverse to hard work by any means, but what frustrates me is the fact that the government pretend to support high street initiatives – pop up shops and markets in particular, but in the real world it is just a series of endless battles. My main realisation is that people who wear suits to work don’t really understand real life at all. I know this sounds like a bit of a generalisation, but in my experience, these big time estate managers of retail precincts know all about the money side of things, but they have no idea how to create a successful thriving community space. Just using Chorlton precinct as an example, to me it seems that the landlords really aren’t bothered about what sort of businesses rent the units, just so long as they get the money. Why on earth would they think that a shop selling beds and sofas would sit well amongst the greengrocers, the bakeries, the butchers etc? How does that make any sense at all? I’m quite certain if they had undertaken a survey of Chorlton shoppers to find out if ‘the people’ wanted a furniture shop selling pleather sofas, the majority answer would of been no. It was doomed to fail from the start and it simply strengthened the negative view that some people have about the precinct. An e-cig shop will have a similar effect.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. I just feel that there is so much wrong with the way things are done and, to me it seems quite clear how it could be changed for the better. If the government really want to support independent businesses and pop ups in empty retail units, then they need to have a rethink about the whole business rates issue. I just don’t understand why they haven’t changed the way they work out business rates despite the rise of internet shopping over the last decade – how can they not see that this is one of the main reasons that year on year, shop closures are rapidly increasing? And how do they STILL not see what a worrying thing this is in so many ways? Like I said – people in suits havn’t got a clue because they don’t shop in little precincts – Waitrose do home deliveries don’t ya know.

This government is just fucked up. I know there’s no real connection to the high street issue, but if our ‘Equalities Minister’ voted against gay marriage, then it’s pretty clear to me that the people in power are most certainly not the right people for the job. I really am rambling now. Good night.