The Created in Birmingham Shop

Adventures in retail

Some audible feedback

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Sherree Moore offered to interview our customers the other day. Here’s the short edit of what she got.

A longer documentary about the shop will follow soon.

Written by Pete Ashton

March 31, 2010 at 10:01 pm

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Stuff we need that we’d rather not pay for

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As we get more things to sell we’re starting to notice we don’t necessarily have the right stuff to sell them from. We can get tables fairly easily but more specialist stuff is quite expensive, unless you happen to know someone who has one out back gathering dust.

So here’s the wish list, as of March 25th. We’re not too worried about condition and can collect if needbe.

Greetings cards display unit – Any style. We’re selling a lot of cards so they really need their own section. I’d like something on the wall but a unit for a table or a spinner would be just as great.

Shop dummies / mannequins – things to display clothes on, basically. We’ll try anything.

Glass Display Cabinet – For the fragile stuff. It doesn’t have to be lockable.

Jewellery display cases – I’m going to put out another call for someone to help us merchandise the jewellery properly but in the meanwhile some specialist cases would be great.

Book stands or things that can be used as book stands. Or failing that a template to make them out of cardboard.

Bookshelves – any size will do.

Print browser – v-shaped rack for resting large prints in.

Magazine rack – We’re getting lots of zines and books without hefty spines. Something for them.

If you can help, drop an email to createdinbirmingham@gmail.com or @ us on Twitter.

Written by Pete Ashton

March 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Posted in General

We need your nice words

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We’re now into our fourth week of trading and while things are going well we know they can’t last like this. So far the shop has been run on a shoestring by folk who, frankly, are making it up as they go along. Which is fine but if this is going to continue past May in some form we’re going to need a much more solid base which, given we’re not a big commercial retailer, is probably going to require some financial support from the funding agencies.

We’ve been astonished by the goodwill and positive feedback we’ve had from people over the last few weeks. It quickly became clear that we’re doing something more than running a neat little shop. This thing seems mean something important to people.

The problem is these passionate words haven’t been recorded. We’ve got some students coming in later this week to interview random shoppers and we’ve finally got a guest book for people to leave comments, but we need more.

We need you to write us short testimonials. Why do you think the shop is important? What need does it address? Why does it need to be in a busy shopping area? What do you like about it? That sort of thing.

Two or three paragraphs would be great but feel free to write more or less. Whatever you have the time or inclination to do.

Many people have said “it’s about time Brum had something like this” but if we’re to have this continue in some form we need to identify exactly what “this” is and explain why Brum needs it to those with the power to make it happen.

You can leave your message in the comments here (please leave a full name) or email them to createdinbirmingham@gmail.com with “Testamonial” in the subject.

Once we’ve got a bunch of feedback we’ll figure out what the next stage is and move on to that.

Thank you.

Written by Pete Ashton

March 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Posted in General

Matt’s Guide for Mounting and Presenting Photographs in the CIB Shop

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By Matt Murtagh who works Wednesdays and Fridays and is doing rather well with his range of 8×6 prints.

Wrote this for a couple of people who asked how and why you should mount photo prints for sale in t’shop -

Photos either sell in mounts or in frames, a good mount turns a fairly cheap looking print into something that people want to buy, especially as presents to other people.
There’s an argument to be made that mounted frames sell much better than framed prints as people care much more about frames matching their home decor, personally I like a nice frame that’s sympathetic to the image, I am however a photographer and not a buyer. There’s a difference.

Where do you source mounts?

The internet, generally. There are tonnes of competitive mat cutting sites (picturelizard.co.uk, frames.uk.com, ebay). If you want to make mounts yourself go ahead, you’ll need a Logan Mat Cutter and some mountboard to start with (Lions Picture Framing Supplies in Digbeth is full of people willing to help you out). It’s tricky to start with but easy, if time consuming, after the first few tries. Also buy some plasters, seriously. If you do really long panoramas making your own mounts is probably quite sensible as they can be a nightmare to source cheaply online.

A few points –

1) Always buy acid free/conservation board, not standard board. If the website does not say the magic phrase ‘Ph neutral’ then leave well alone.
2) Double mounts kinda look tacky (this is just a personal opinion)
3) Always buy a backing board for large prints, in my experience 10 x 8s and smaller can get by with a back made of stiff paper
4) Shop around – especially if you’re looking for standard sizes

How do you mount your images?

Tape your images to the inside of the mount –

1) Fix the image at the top only, this way the image will lie flat in the frame , don’t tape it all the way round
2) Use gum tape/conservation tape, don’t use sellotape, masking tape, horrible double sided tape, electrical tape, gaffer tape – these are all either acidic or non archival, as in you cannot remove them from the print afterwards.
3) Use a small piece of tape while positioning the image then use a large strip when you’re sure it’s right.

Bagging

Cellophane bags make your work easier to handle and more presentable. Most mounting websites will sell self sealing clear mount bags which are cheap and easy to use. For odd shaped or big prints cellophane rolls can be bought, the plastic sheets are easily fixed with a little sellotape.

Written by Pete Ashton

March 16, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Posted in General

We’re looking for art to sell

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Update – April 28th

We will be moving from our current location in May. At the moment we don’t know if we’ll be opening elsewhere or where that elsewhere might be. As such I’m not taking stock from new suppliers during May so I can get ready for the move.

Please continue to email your information through as if/when we have a new shop we’ll start the process up again.

If you emailed before May 1st and haven’t had a reply, please hold on. I will try to get back to everyone who got in before the deadline. Honest.

– — –

Hi, this is Pete. I’m in charge of stock and making the systems at the shop work smoothly.

Two weeks has passed since we opened the Created in Birmingham shop and we’re starting to get a better idea of what’s selling and what’s not.

To begin with we had an open submissions policy but now the shop is full we’re pulling up the drawbridge a little. Any stock we take has to be cleared by Chris or Pete either in person or by email.

Our terms

  • You set the price.
  • We take 25% of that price.
  • Stock is taken on a Sale or Return basis.
  • We pay you for sold items at the end of each month.
  • Unsold items can be collected by you at any time.
  • Payments will be made monthly.

We’re definitely trading until May 1st in the Bullring. After that we’ll review but for now assume 2 months.

This is our criteria

Items should be presented in a retail friendly manner. This is a shop, not a gallery, and we get a fair amount of traffic. It also gets quite dusty. Your stuff should be packaged and protected where appropriate.

Items should appeal to a high street mindset. Not exclusively, obviously, and we always want interesting, counter culture, DIY stuff. Just remember people come to the Bullring in a certain frame of mind.

Start small. We would rather take a small selection of your work to begin with then come back to you if it starts selling. 5 mounted prints, a couple of frames, 10 items of jewellery, 5 CDs, that sort of thing.

Must be Created in Birmingham, obviously. Birmingham born or Birmingham based is perfect but we allow some wiggle room for Black Country, Worcs, etc if you can be bothered to make the effort to come in.

Here’s what’s selling

Screen prints and similar forms of illustration are flying out. We can’t keep this stuff on the shelves at the moment. Sarah Ray is probably the bestseller here but by no means exclusively. This sells best as limited editions mounted on card and wrapped in plastic at between £5 and £30, or framed at £40 to £50.

Cards. Hand made cards by artists are doing well. Package them up nicely with an envelope. £2.50 seems to be the sweet spot.

Badges are steady sellers. I’d ask that you package them in some way first – stick them on a card and/or in a bag. That way they can be displayed better (and you can charge more!)

Photos are going pretty well if they’re presented nicely. Do not use a clip frame. Seriously, clip frames make your work look awful. Either use a nice Ikea-style frame (nothing fancy) or get some mounts and bags from somewhere like PictureLizard and make them look smart. Prices vary tremendously but we’re seeing £15 – £20 work pretty well for mounted prints, £20-30 for a small framed print and £40 to £60 for a larger framed piece. We haven’t sold anything over £100 yet.

Music we’re not selling in huge quantities but could do with a wider range. I’m happy to take five copies of a CD or similar. If anyone has an idea of how to make a listening post (or has an old iPod-type device we can “borrow”) that’d be great.

Jewellery was an area we were holding back on but a few got under the fence and we’ve been doing very well with Wychbury and Laura’s Kitsch plastic jewellery priced between £5 and £15 an item. We’re going to dedicate a wall to jewellery soon so please bring some in. I’d say no more than£15 an item with £5 to £10 being ideal price point. Please get in touch if you fit this. (Or even if you don’t because we’re still experimenting with this.)

Original Art is not selling at all. I’m saying no to canvases of any description and am very reticent to take anything priced over £60. This is where the fact that we’re in the Bullring and not the Mailbox hits home. People are coming in with their retail heads on, not their art gallery heads. My advice, for what it’s worth, would be to make a copy of you work and sell it as a print.

Books and other bound paper things I want a lot more of. We did really well with Atta-Girl’s zine and cute little screen printed items but I’m keen to push other printed matter in whatever form. Keep meaning to get in touch with Tindal St Press so if they’re reading this…

Clothes. I don’t want the shop to become a clothes shop because that’s a whole nother world but we do take some clothing. I’m after stuff that’s hand made and unique but please come and have a chat first.

T-shirts are going well in two areas. The Bostin, Brumsdale and related shirts are steady sellers but we’re also doing a bit of trade with the more arty shirts and I’d like to develop the range of wearables by local designers. £15 is the average price but I think you could go higher if the shirt deserves it.

Fashion accessories like purses and that are selling slowly. The Mitsu Co bags went well (not on the website unfortunately) and we’re happy to take more items like that around the £10 to £25 mark. Other crafty items, come and ask.

We’re always open to other stuff, especially if it’s not listed above. A lady brought in two 5ft tall papercraft lamp shades at the weekend, for example. Just make sure it’s fits the retail friendly criteria.

How to submit your work

If you’re confident you fit the criteria, or even if you’re not confident, there are two options.

  • Send an email to createdinbirmingham@gmail.com with “CiB Shop stock” in the subject line. Include images and links to your work. We’ll review these and get in touch with those we like the look of.
  • Chance your luck and pop into the shop. Chris and Pete aren’t in every day so you might not get a decision but the other staff can give you an idea of what works.

If we decide to take your work bring it in with a delivery note containing your contact details and a list of the the stock with prices.

And then we’ll see if it sells!

Written by Pete Ashton

March 15, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Posted in General

A graph to show…

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…the effect that opening a shop has on your blog’s Facebook Page fan numbers.

(Spot the upturn around 25 Feb)

Written by Chris Unitt

March 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

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Tagged with , ,

Time flies

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Wow. Well, things kinda went and happened for a little while there. I meant to put updates here slightly more often than I managed.

Summary of the past couple of weeks:

  • Lots of people helped to get the shop ready
  • We opened the shop
  • People said very nice things about it
  • People brought things for us to sell

There’s a fuller story and a whole heap of proper thank yous that need to be made. In the meantime, the shop is open for business. If you’ve not popped in yet then please do – you’ll be made very welcome.

Written by Chris Unitt

March 11, 2010 at 2:10 am

Posted in General

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