Hippo's on a slight rant, so step away now if you are just tucking into your tea and winding down for the evening!
I am getting increasingly cross that people seem to be missing the point of what we are trying to do, or rather what we are actually doing - and more's the point, winning!
We are a community business, in extemely simple terms we take work from other artists and makers and sell it in the shop for a percentage commission of the sale price. We take this % because we have bills to pay such as rent, card machine and packaging to sell their lovely work to happy customers. What we are not is a pity case. We only stock work that is well made, by hand and by brilliant local makers who will hopefully each make the transition from hobby crafter to professional crafter (but only if they choose to - that's their decision to make not ours to impose). Sellers or Hippo-ettes offer time to support the shop, either in delivering leaflets for events, marshalling cars at events, or working in the shop for the day. No staff are paid, we all do it to support the wider ethos of the Hippos.
What irks me somewhat is that because we have a great shop, in a great location full of fabulous things that are so well made we are sometimes viewed as a purely commercial venture. We didn't set out to look like a community business, we set out to look like a good place to come and buy some quality gifts - and not surprisingly, we're doing just that. Yes we do make money, not much though! Yes, we do have a very decent turnover, and yes we have hit breakeven after only 3 months trading which is no mean feat in this climate. But that's because everyone works like mad in the background as a group. We have to beg, borrow and barter our way through it all. One of our painters who is world known lends us an easel to stand his work on because we don't have the resources to purchase one!
However, because we don't look like a 'needy' group, we all work extremely hard at what we do. We don't ask for charity - of course we'll accept the easel and other such helpful things but we want to be a proper trading community business. So, my apologies for not putting posters all round the shop showing you all the people that are actually helped by customers loving what they make, my apologies for trading effectively and not requiring external grant funding because we got our budget right, and my apologies for us working hard and not just going cap in hand to councils for a hand out because we can't get our business model right.
Here endeth the rant! I will now go off to find some chocolate and watch drivel on telly while thinking of our next cunning plan to put a Hippo on your High Street too! Hippo x