I am looking for ways to increase the working capital as well as more efficient ways to run the business. Currently represent over 100 artistries through the United States & Canada as well as being multi-venue artist.  This allows the representation of many artists within the knowledge & talents known.  We can educate in detail how the majority of the items are created from the raw materials to the finished item.  The time is taken to ask the customer questions to be sure that the item in question will fit that person’s requirements.  Working with the artisans to learn about their style of creating, likes & dislikes about the items of their trade.  Also helping the artists to design new products to meet the requests of the public.  Trying  to keep the artists inspired so that they want to continue creating new items.  The artists are also welcome to join us at any show/event we are participating.

We like to offer well-crafted items at a price range the every day person can afford to buy - be they a CEO on their day off or the family with three kids, who packed their lunch to come to the show.  A good product at a fair price is hard to pass.  We are willing to make changes to items at the point of sale, if we have the means to accomplish it.  Minor repairs & custom order work can be done on site, usually the same day the order is made.


Name:    Edward A. Westleigh    ordained as Rev. Allen M. Drago  

Mailing address:      15096 Auburn St, Detroit MI
Telephone:   216-298-1549. 
E-mail: TravelerinBDFSM@hotmail.com

Web Site: http://travelingwithintheworld.ning.com/

Or Skype IM/Laptop contact:     Travelingraggyman

At Renaissance &/or Medieval Faires known as>

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries, a Dept of Ask For IT

____________________________________________________

Hopefully the following information will help you to understand our needs.


We request funds for the following:

Minimum jump start for getting the ‘show on the road”. To get there & have what is basically needed or used.

On an average sales day we project in about $300 to $500.  Additional funds from custom orders & repairs being $50 to $200 during a show week.  An example event show runs for five weekends with a low possibility of $3,300 for the show run for sales and $250 for custom orders and repairs.  As soon as we are on the road we will be booking other shows on our route.  We have the possibility of lining up seven other shows during the year.  We travel from show to show mid January till the first of November.


Basic needs:

A used 24’ or 26’ box truck with Title & Plates Truck state sales tax , excise tax as per state regulations, application fee  & registration, Preventative Maintenance, insurance, Materials to customize, tires will run about $7,000


Equipment:  Tent canvas $7,000

Updated Laptop $700

Wood & materials for frame $300     

Tires for trailer    $400 {low market price}{ there are four of them}

Propane Tanks    $120 to exchange 6 tanks


Insurance for at Events

Specialty $175                    Business $350


Miscellaneous
10% cushion for unforeseen based on the above totals


 Financing needed:

 

    We have below listed assets for a total business cost of _________ already put forth.  We need a loan of _______ to cover remaining set up costs for the first show including the needed equipment.

List of collateral. 

            In addition to the items listed below I have experience of over 20 years in this business.  At many of the shows I have a repeating customer base. We also will have an established travel route that has annual shows along it.

Trailer in storage in Michigan $2,000
Tools in storage in Michigan $1,000
Two sets of metal brackets for tents in storage in Michigan $1,500
Stands for costuming in storage in Michigan $1,200
Mannequins in storage in Michigan $300
Personal costuming in storage in Michigan $500
Personal jewelry in storage in Michigan $500
Other displays in storage in Michigan $100
Tables in storage in Michigan $300
20’x20’ Tent canopy, ropes, poles & steaks in storage in Michigan $1,400 

Total $

Below is a listing of shows perspective for a yearly route

May

Mother’s Day weekend   till June Father’s day weekend   Virginia, Lake Anna Winery 5621 Courthouse Road Spotsylvania, www.varf.org/index.html

June

Mid month till mid July KY Renaissance Faire

July

Last weekend till 2nd weekend of Aug Pennsic XXXVII cooper’s Lake Campground PA http://www.cooperslake.com/merchant/merchant

September

 Labor Day weekend & following two {3 weekends} Des Moines Renaissance Faire, De Moines Iowa http://www.dmrenfaire.com/index.shtml

Last of month Four Kingdom’s Renaissance Faire

Oct

1st weekend Fishers Renaissance Faire, Fishers Indiana http://4.37.65.169/Artisans.htm

Columbus Day weekend till All Hollows Eve {3 weekends} Mid-Michigan Renaissance Festival, Tuscola, MI www.midmichiganrenfest.

January

Mid weekends Kiwanis-Lee County Medieval Faire Ft. Meyers, FL medieval-faire.com

Last weekend of Jan first of Feb {2 weekends} Hoggetowne Medieval Faire Gainesville, FL http://www.gvlculturalaffairs.org/website/programs_events/HMF/medie....

March

First weekend Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire Pensacola FL www.gcrf.net

Week of St Patty’s Day Gulf Wars XVII Lumberton MS http://www.gulfwars.org/merchant.html

April

Mid month   Ardmore - Alabama/Tennessee Renaissance Faire, Ardmore TN/AL www.ardmore-renfaire.com

Last weekend Ashville Viking Festival, Ashville Ohio, www.ashvillevikingfest.com


           Ask For IT was created with the idea of keeping handmade arts & trades in our ever-increasing commercially produced world.  Why did we want to keep these older trades alive?  They are a part of our historical culture.  We need to find a way to catch the interest of the younger generation & find those who will want to learn & continue to pass these arts on.  Some art forms have entirely died out of physical existence.  Knowing one’s past helps to give an appreciation for all the trails & hardships our ancestors came over.

           By selling these everyday historically related items to the public, performing demonstrations & making custom orders we encourage the public to ask questions & explore their history or the history of another culture.  We encourage the customers to step out of their time & visit a past they may never have otherwise thought about.

            We sell well-made items that our artists/crafters create at reasonable prices.  We enjoy designing new products.  This makes the public aware that not everything has to come mass-produced from a factory or plant.  In many ways the public has forgotten the fact they can find people who make items the way they want.  We want to be the choice where people can have what they want created for them.

Our business allows the person who does not want to make items all the time, but still enjoy their hobby - a middle ground.  It also works for those who want to create items but are unable to travel far distances.  We provide a means to sell those items to the public without putting those individuals where they prefer not to be.  An artist is not happy if he or she cannot create, but they have to have a way to be able to support the costs of their art/hobby.  We find the shows where customers are likely to buy these items & travel to the shows


We sell mostly handmade items of a medieval or renaissance related nature.  Less than ten percent of the entire inventory is imported/commercially produced items.  We have costuming, woodwork, pottery, music cds, leatherwork, jewelry, maille, ironwork, weaponry & a few miscellaneous items.



Services
   Custom Orders - off site & on site.  On site is limited to material & tools on hand.
   Alterations at the time of sale
   General information about the layout & location of things on the grounds
   Craft demonstration
   Minor repair work - limited to materials & tools on hand
Items we or our artist/crafters create
   Jewelry, Maille, Woodwork, Weaponry, Ironwork, Pottery, Leather work, Period related music, Costuming, Interior & Exterior décor.

Services offered:

    Costuming are outfits made mostly out of fabric that are based on clothing from the age of primitive man to 1600AD.

    Potteries are items made out of clay/stoneware that are finished with a glaze.  Items are mostly drinking or eating vessels of some kind or items used for décor.

    Weaponry is handmade items with or without blades.  The time range for these items being primitive man to 1600AD.  Examples of such weapons are atlatls, bows, war hammers, knives, daggers & swords.  One has to be eighteen years old or older to touch or purchase any weapon.  An eighteen year old may purchase a blade up to 21 inches long.  To purchase a bladed weapon with a blade longer than 21 inches the customer has to be at least 21 years of age.

    Music is mostly sold on cds, with a few cassettes still left in stock.  The music is related to if not a direct replica of the sheet music from that era.

    Ironwork items serve mostly functional needs with the occasional item being for décor.  Examples of such items in this medium are cooking utensils, hooks of various types, stands nails, tent stakes & candleholders.

    Woodwork items mostly serve as décor of one type or another.  Examples would be scrollwork pictures, chairs, tables, beds, tent poles, children toys & cooking utensils.

    Leatherwork items serve both functional & aesthetic needs.  Examples being belts, pouches, barrettes, cloaks, floggers, bags & notebook covers.

   Armor items may be used for protection against weaponry or may just look like it could protect one from harm.  The majority of all armor is made from a combination of metal & leather.  Examples would be breastplate, greaves, coif & helmet.

    The public more commonly knows Maille as “chainmail”.  Maille is made by interweaving links, jump rings of various sizes & gauges, into a pattern to produce items.  These items can be of a delicate jewelry nature to the far extreme of armor grade shirts & coifs.

    Jewelry items are meant to adorn the human body in some fashion.  Jewelry can made out of a wide range of materials such as horn, bone, glass, leather, metal, amber, shells & polished stones.  As with most items, we keep to the period of primitive man to 1600AD.

    Alterations to items at the time of purchase - Sometimes a customer likes everything but one small detail or part of the item.  We inform the customer that we can change that detail at either no cost or for a small fee.  These alterations often take less than two minutes to perform.

    Minor repairs of items while on site - From time to time a customer has an item they purchased several years ago that has suffered some type of malfunction.  The customer not knowing who to take their item to locally to have it fixed will bring the item with them hoping to find someone who can fix it.  The majority of the items brought to us are easily fixed.  Spending ten minutes or less to repair the item in question, we do not ask for a fee.  We only ask for a donation for our work.  Many time the amount given as a donation exceeds the amount we would have charged for the service.  These repairs are limited to our experiences, materials & tools on h&.  If we are not able to help the customer, we will try to help the customer find someone who can make the repair.

    Custom orders are orders for items that we do not carry on a regular basis or an order the customer wishes not to have duplicated for anyone else.  Some of these orders we can do on site while others have to be sent out to the artists in that venue.  We always try to assist the customer with the design of the item to ensure that the look of the item will still meet the functional needs of the item.  A custom order on site depends on the time needed to make the item, materials for the item as well as the complexity of the design for the item.  The price for this service starts around $10 & going up from there.

We already have experience being a traveling business.  We know to deal with unexpected troubles while traveling.  We will do that extra needed task to make things easier for the show/event that we are participating in.  We offer friendly service & well-made items.  We are willing to do that extra little something to make the customer happy.

    Stupid Merchant Tricks 103 are ways to keep the patrons otherwise known as customers & ourselves entertained.  Making the customers smile & enjoy their time in one’s tent/booth is a good way to encourage return business & word of mouth advertising.  There is no charge for making others smile.  Part of the reason why people go to these styles of shows/events is to be entertained & have a good time everywhere they go on the grounds.  If a customer has a good time while they shop or browse, they are more likely to come back & tell others how your tent/booth was a fun place to be

        Crafting demonstrations are when we show the public how we make an item that we sell.  This helps to educate the public about these trades & maybe even find someone to teach the art to.  The more common exchange between merchant & show/event is to have a lower or no cost merchant space for demonstrating one’s craft to the public.  The other extreme is for the merchant to be paid for their travel expenses, food costs, & cost of materials, lodging expenses & possibly paid on top of all of that.  The exchange of costs can fall anywhere in between the two extremes as well.

    The majority of the items we sell out of the tent are done by representation, meaning that the artists who make the items control the prices.  We do have one requirement though, that we sell the item in question at the same price that the artist does.  This way we are neither gouging the public nor shorting the artist by dropping our prices below that artist’s valued price.  After watching the public react to the item & price for three months, we can suggest to the artist to raise or lower the price as well as rotating stock to better meet the public demands.

    Items that we make ourselves are priced by the cost of materials to make said items we or our artist/crafters create & a daily or hourly cost based on how long it takes to create that item.

    For minor repairs done on site & often while the customer waits, a donation is all we ask.  This tends to go more towards the idea of tipping for one’s service based upon the customer’s level of satisfaction with the work accomplished.  The majority of these repairs take less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  Often the donation received is more than the cost of the service.

       Easy alterations to items we or our artist/crafters create at the time of sale are usually done at no extra charge.  These are often less than two minutes worth of work.  It makes the customer happier & encourages return business.   Alterations that take more than ten minutes are charged a small fee based on the amount of work involved usually between $5 & $30.

    Services like Headhunting, security & lying out of the grounds are service we offer to the shows/events that we go to.  These services are done in exchange for a lower or cost free merchant space.  In cases where the show/event cannot afford to do that, building good will with the show/event staff.  Headhunting is searching for a particular type of merchant, entertainer or other needed service.  Security is just doing that, helping out with the security of the show/event be it during open hours of business or afterwards.  Laying out the grounds means helping to figure out where things are going to be on the show/event site.  This often means helping to place others’ tents, setting up the show tents & placing tables.

    We are willing to take the time to do the small things to make a customer happy.  We try to provide well-made items at a reasonable price.  We are friendly & helpful even if the customer is not interested in making a purchase.  Often we are asked questions by the patrons (customers) of a show/event about the performance schedule, which booth has good food, closest privy (bathroom), first aid location, who sells X item & directions to that merchant space/stage/joust field.   We keep a site map & schedule of performances on the different stages to help answer the common questions.  During the hotter months, we offer a community-drinking cooler for those who have a vessel to hold liquids.  This helps to reduce the number of heat exhaustion instances with customers & participants alike.  We keep a stocked minor first aid kit on h& making general good will & less paper work for the first aid station.




    Our ideal customers are people who like to own something a little different.  They should like handmade items from the rough to mid-quality range. (We are more than happy to make higher quality items on a custom order basis.)  They should be able to afford spending $100 or more on a day of fun.  This $100 should cover fuel, entrance ticket $0 - $25, food & drink while on grounds $30 & leave some money left over to tip entertainers & go shopping among the merchants.

    Our customers tend to not fit within the normal social standards of today.  They like things like history, religions not based on the Bible, Victorian Gothic, & live action role-playing (LARP), Punk fashion, well-crafted items & alternative life styles choices.

    A few of our items have age restrictions to be able to purchase them.  These items make up close to fifteen percent of the total inventory.  These age restrictions either are placed by the law such a sells of weapons or are placed by our moral standing of not selling outfits of a reveling nature to anyone under the age of eighteen without their parent present at the time of purchase.

    The price range for most items falls into the range of $5 - $150.  We do carry some items outside of that range but not many.  We have carried items that cost as little as $1 & as much as $8,500.   The majority of our sales are expected in the $20 - $100 range.  We do offer a four-month layaway program for individuals who want to make a purchase of $100 or more but do not have the funds on hand to complete the transaction.    



    The majority of the shows/events we sell at already attract a slightly different customer base.  These shows/events usually have advertising campaigns in place to draw people to the show/event.  For many of the shows/events, flyers are a part of their ad campaign.  We ask for flyers to pass out while we run errands.  Perhaps we can have a stamp made saying ‘Visit us at merchant space #_____’ to help draw more people to our tent/booth while at that show.

    We have a couple of databases of customers, shows/events, artists & businesses.  We offer this database to the shows/events so they can mail flyers to the surrounding community.  This helps to increase public awareness of the show/event.  We have talked about doing something similar for ourselves, but have not been able to afford sending a postcard flyer.  If we were to do it, a 100 to 150 mile radius from the site of show/event would be the target mailing area.

    We use business cards with our major points of contact.  We encourage customers to write a reminder on the business card as to why they picked it up.  We do this knowing how the mind can forget things over time.

    We also have a web site that is still in the works.  On the website we will have a calendar giving dates, locations, show/event names & often a link to that show’s/event’s website.

    At most shows merchants can place an advert in the program with the show schedule - cost range $20 - $150.  It has been our experience & the experience of others merchants that this does not help to attract customers to your tent/booth.

    Having a unique tent like the Arabian Bedouin we use along with creative use of displays in front of one’s tent/booth is a good way to attract attention.

    During hours of operation hawking, loudly talking to public about ones wares, is allowed with in a certain distance of one’s tent/ booth as long as it does not disrupt your neighbors’ sales or sense of hearing.

    If we are given complementary tickets to the show/event, we give them out to people employed at the local businesses we utilize.  We spend some money in the local community while telling them about the show/event creating good will & word of mouth advertising.

   We encourage the staff of the show/event to utilize as many free advertising avenues as possible - most over looked public community calendars in newspapers & on radio stations.

   We have a web site set up with an interactive member site platform. Information of history and  being tied into well-known search engines and common public used services, i.e. twitter, facebook, myspace.  We have several who are willing to work with us on making this a productive website.


    We have to drive to where the customers migrate for the shows/events.  It is the show/event that draws the customer.  We are a part of the ambience of the show/event.  We are a part of how a costumer can take home a memory of show/event or find that unique item that they have been spending three months looking for.  At the shows/events, all sales are in person.  Customers at the show/event have the option of calling to place a request for a regularly made item or requesting a custom order.   We also take orders through the mail.  The majority of orders placed are sent through the United States Postal Service.  The customer has the option to at a different show/event has picked up the order.




    In order to find the customers we have to go to where they are likely to be such as a renaissance festival or historical re-enactment event.  There are several shows/events we have done over the past several years that we have a semi regular to regular customer base.  We look forward to seeing our establish customers as well as welcome new customers every sales day.  There is no one great location to open up a storefront at.  Those we know who have tried to operate out of a store front have never had long run success due to the lack of regular customers & therefore sales.

    Traveling is not considered a good business practice by most.  However, finding an ideal location with the right demographics is not easy.  The few places that have come close there was no way we could afford the cost of store front without already having a very well built customer base in that area.



    We have & will continue to discuss topics with our fellow merchants & entertainers on the circuit.  This helps us to see if other people are seeing the same trends or patterns as we are.  It allows us to know if the trend or pattern is regional or happening on a national scale.  One of the reasons why we are requesting this service is to learn better ways to run our business.  Everyone has weak spots in some business skills.   It would be great to have a mentor we could ask questions or see if an idea is worth spending time on.



    Edward likes to work with his hands & find new ways to make things.  He likes to design new items for both look & functionality. He works in metal, wood, leather, cloth, clay & stone. When he has the time & books of interest he’ll read 6 to 9 books a week.

What technical skills have we learned or developed?

How to use Excel to help keep track of inventory
Using Excel to build & search through a database
Using Microsoft Publisher to create forms & letterhead
Making wire into link & link into maille items
Communicating better with the artists & patrons (customers)
Driving for long stretches of time        Making glass beads
Design consultation        Cooking while on circuit
Simple Jewelry                Glass beads               
Link work                         Metalwork
Leatherwork                    Cloth worker

Wire work                        Wood work

General construction     History knowledge

Keeping track of the paperwork details
Working with the customers
Writing documents

Coming up with ideas & ways to fill custom orders.

Knowledge with tools & items we work in.

Helping the people around us.




    Fourteen hours a day, we have to eat & sleep at some point in time.  Seven days a week & forty-eight weeks out of the year.  That makes ninety-eight hours a week devoted to working.  Right now, that time is being spent researching what goes into making a business plan as well as trying to find financing.




    Many would say that our business in not practical. For many do not understand the what or why of it.  We say they lack the courage to try it.  The need our company fills is not a large one but it is a link to our past & a way to keep older art forms from dying out of physical existence.




Commercially mass produced items, mainly imports or mass production houses.
Other circuit merchants at events.
E-Bay & other on-line styled auction houses. This general public does not sell their items for the complete value.  Many of the sellers will do only a markup of ten percent over material cost alone.  Overall, the sellers on these sites have driven the whole price market down for many of the handmade trades.



Location
    In many ways, location for us is based upon the number of customers that go to that show.  Being able to have a singular location for the business would be great, however that means having a well established customer base to support the costs of operating the store front.  Our experience with others in the same or similar venue has been of short-lived success, usually less than three years of operating time before closing their doors for good.  The main reason being unable to draw a regular customer base to the storefront.

    There is a way around the shortage of a regular customer base.  The method is not the easiest & considered by many to be an unwise business practice.  Instead of having the customers come entirely to one’s store, we bring the store three quarters of the way to the customers.  This is accomplished by finding shows/events that will attract the kind of customer base we are looking for.  We travel to that show/event to sell our wares.  The show/event often draws in customers who live up to one hundred fifty miles away.  We can travel from show/event to the next show/event ensuring that there is a chance of having customers at each show/event we participate in.  Many shows we participate in are held on an annual basis this helps to ensure repeat business as well as new business.




    Ask For IT was created with the idea of keeping handmade arts & trades in our ever-increasing commercially produced world.  Why did we want to keep these older trades alive?  They are a part of our historical culture.  We need to find a way to catch the interest of the younger generation & find those who will want to learn & continue to pass these arts on.  Some art forms have entirely died out of physical existence.  Knowing one’s past helps to give an appreciation for all the trails & hardships our ancestors came over.

    By selling these everyday historically related items to the public, performing demonstrations & making custom orders we encourage the public to ask questions & explore their history or the history of another culture.  We encourage the customers to step out of their time & visit a past they may never have otherwise thought about.

    We sell well-made items that our artists/crafters create at reasonable prices.  We enjoy designing new products.  This makes the public aware that not everything has to come mass-produced from a factory or plant.  In many ways the public has forgotten the fact they can find people who make items the way they want.  We want to be the choice where people can have what they want created for them.

    Our business allows the person who does not want to make items all the time, but still enjoy their hobby - a middle ground.  It also works for those who want to create items but are unable to travel far distances.  We provide a means to sell those items to the public without putting those individuals where they prefer not to be.  An artist is not happy if he or she cannot create, but they have to have a way to be able to support the costs of their art/hobby.  We find the shows where customers are likely to buy these items & travel to the shows.


 

Views: 38

Replies to This Discussion

Comment by Ruth (Ana) Kaplan on February 28, 2011 at 7:35pm

A really good start on a business plan. Maybe you could contact your local SCORE chapter for help working up a full business plan with financials and applying for a small business loan? Best of luck.
Comment by Dept of PMM Artists & things on February 28, 2011 at 7:58pm
All ready in the works and looking in more then jsut there as well. But options are limited to a single white male has been found many programs for others and little other wise.

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.

 

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.

 

Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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