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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 2:50 pm    Post subject: Albion Armorers at Renaissance Faires?         Reply with quote

Hey guys, it just struck me as odd....(I know there are people from AA here on the boards), but I found it odd that Albion Armorers are not at the Bristol Renaissance Faire...it seems logical. I was just curious. Happy I love the stuff, but lack the funds, I know someone who has one and they sing its praises lol. Anyways, thanks!
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B. Stark
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There has just been some talk around the shop of making an appearance there. Not formally, but a group of us have some embryonic plans at this stage to go in our gear. I imagine some of us will be strolling about with some Albion product as well as some of our own individual creations. All remains to be seen. As far as Albion putting up a booth though, I haven't heard.
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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It just seems so odd that after all these years, one of the finest armouries in the US has never really made an appearance at the big faire in its home state.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Renaissance Faires aren't very profitable now days: especially on items at the price point of Albion's.
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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I dunno, I work at the Bristol Faire (WI), and it seems pretty profitable to me! Starfire, Arms & Armor, Sabersmith, and SRG all seem to do pretty well there. Merchants travel all over to set up at Ren Fairs, (ie; A&A from ME in WI, SF from NY in WI), and it struck me as odd. *shrug* I've seen lots of people with swords/arms from all of these merchants around the faire, as well as what I am sure of to be both Albion and Christian Fletcher (and more). Surprisingly very few MRL or other.
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Aaron Justice




Location: Southern California
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 8:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I dunno Nathan, at the Rennaissance Pleasure Faire here in SoCal there seems to be a good chance for some weapons that actually LOOK like weapons. So many of the weapons vendors sell gigantic double bit axes, and swords that may be functional but are extremely plain in taste, like every sword having a brass pommel and crossguard. It might be a good opportunity for Albion to liquidate older First Gen stock or Del Tin blades they carry, and maybe even have a selection of their Squire Line blades as those are very inexpensive. But I agree that at Albion's price point their NextGEn blades won't sell very well. Very few people bring $700 + to a RenFaire.
How can there be a perfect sword when PEOPLE come in all shapes and sizes too?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 8:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know many, many, many people who work the faire circuits, especially up and down California. I was one of those guys for years, in fact. It's been many years since it's been profitable. Take the guesswork away: ask somebody working the circuit if the profits have gone downhill steadily. This last year was a bit better than the previous, but still amongst the lowest in the last decade. Speculation is fun and we see it over and over on the forums about this stuff and so many other topics, but my own experience with asking the people who actually do it is quite different.

I'd be eager to hear of other reports from vendors actually working the events. Certainly there has to be somebody who did okay, even when compared to five years ago.

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Aaron Justice




Location: Southern California
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, what we would like to see at a RenFaire (a little accuracy perhaps?? just kidding, just kidding, they're for fun, I had viking weaponry bundled with a brigandine once...) is often not what other people will appreciate. I am certain no one here would disagree if they would like to see an Albion booth, but being profitable is a whole 'nother issue.

Also the 2005 Rennaissance Pleasure Faire has been moved, but they haven't acquired another location yet. I haven't heard why since their current location is a permanent facility.

How can there be a perfect sword when PEOPLE come in all shapes and sizes too?
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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes I heard about the upheaval of the Southern Faire. Its really quite sad. I've also always found it a little strange (about the REC, owners of the SoCal Faire and Bristol. +NY), that it is located in Colorado or something....nowhere near any of its fairs. Nor on its faire websites does it offer an actual contact page for the company itself, despite the fact that it is a publicly traded company (FAIR in Nasdaq I believe). Its also really quite sad that our beloved historical recreations are falling out of favor... Sad ... such skills were not meant to be lost in time. I would like to hear some industry workers' opinions on the subject and whatnot though....
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 9:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no idea whether folks make money at fairs or not, but when I've seen people attempt nicer stuff around here all it seems to do is drive sales at the crap depots. People just seem to get more convinced that they really do want a $59 battle ready barbarian skull terminator sword of death that weights 16+ lbs. Ironically I think Starfire does OK at faires because they are heavy (and performers use them).

You know....like real swords!

That said I would L-O-V-E to see higher end venodrs at faires more often. I got to spend a good chunk of a day talking with A&A at Bristol about two years ago and really appreciated the fact that they were someplace I could take the family.

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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 9:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Therein lies the problem. The average Renaissance Faire attracts both hardcore collectors and ethusiasts of the era, etc. (ie; us, reenactors, scholars, teachers, etc.), as well as the standard ignorant crowd that probably thinks all the Middle Ages were, were the things you'd find in a game of Dungeons and Dragons & King Arthur. At your standard shop at the renaissance faire, you can purchase perhaps homegoods, sundries, and other handicrafts. These are usually unique and generally unavailable anywhere else. This makes them a novelty, which brings us into the other kind of shop. This kind of shop is perhaps an armory or a reenactors' shop, this is generally the kind of shop people like 'us' shop; Something that caters to a specific group. On the otherhand, many of the items from said specialty shops are impulse buys. Indeed impulse buys are what drives the American Renaissance Faires.
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Alex Oster




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 9:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Justice wrote:
I am certain no one here would disagree if they would like to see an Albion booth, but being profitable is a whole 'nother issue.


There is a flip side here...

Sometimes the "action" may not be proffitable right away, but the "effort" can pay off in better educated shoppers, getting seen by new "potential" customers, ect...

When I worked for a cigar company we would hold cigar events where we gave discounts to get new people in and won them with overwhelming customer service and product knowledge. Where we didn't make much the day of the event we saw the long term effects in returning new customers and with customers who were now smart enough to ~not~ smoke drug store crap and choose quality over quantity..

but to each bussiness its own. I am sure they have their reasons either way.

My advice would be go with it but expect it to be a advertising day more than a super big profits day....

Just my feelings on it.

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to continue this theme for a minute, it is rather sad that the whole Renaissance-period reenacting has gone the way it has, rather than being able to follow the same path as either the Mountain-Man enthusiasts or the American (or even English!) Civil War reenactors. They have huge battles and/or encampments with various activities for the participants, but it seems as though a big part of it is for the shopping trip it affords the guys who do this. (I like shopping under these conditions, but you aren't likely to catch me at a mall! Yuck!) Either the "Rendezvous Scene" or the Civil War Battle reenactments are to some degree a great excuse to get together and go shopping for the really cool stuff that you usually only get to see in catalogues, and then get to hold, lust after, and eventually buy. Sadly the Renaissance Faire concept seems to have hijacked those interested in the era towards a far more "entertainment" based venue, much more in fact for the visitor than for the participant (since they are the one's paying the bills, it makes sense!)

One of the things I have noted for years is that at a high-end reenactment (of any sort, be it ACW, Fur Trade, or Cowboy Action Shooting, heck, sometimes even SCA!) is that if you have a nice empty credit card, you can walk in one end of "Trader's Row" in blue jeans and a "T" shirt, and walk out the other with a full kit. Might not be the absolutely most authentic of course, but still, good serviceable stuff that is more than adequate for a beginner, and not bad for folks still moving up. As long as you have done some homework though, you can do pretty well. But at a Renaissance Faire, it caters to the paying customers of the faire who are, with only a few exceptions, not particularly interested in the serious toys of the era, but in nick-knacks and jewelry (and of course food and BEER!).

Perhaps if trends in reenacting hold, then newer venues will become popular (such as Renaissance Military, or Wars of the Roses, or Migration Period Warriors, Romans or what ever) while the Old Line reenactments will continue to attract newcomers, and become more of the "Boot Camp" for reenactors to learn their craft before moving on to more in-depth venues. Then again, it might all collapse into a mess, with fond memories of grey-headed old guys who say "Remember when... There we were, no $#!^!!" and boring their grandchildren with them.


Of course this is one of those posts which has absolutely no solutions for the question at hand, but merely pointing out the (to me at least) obvious. But it sure would be cool to go to a reenactment where you could actually buy high-end swords, armour, pole-arms and clothing as well as kettles, buckets and tents to go make your Renaissance, or Migration Period, or whatever, self and camp look that much spiffier than it had been. Spend money to impress your friends, etc.

Anyway, just click your heels together three times, and dream...

Gordon

Gordon

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 10:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Like Nathan I too worked the Renfaire circuit years ago. Sometimes performing, other times as a vendor. I have to agree with him in the point that there isn't a big enough profit margin to make it worth their while. There are two types of sword vendors at Renfaires: Those selling cheap crap with a low overhead, thus not needing a big margin, and those who are well established at certain faires and have been there forever. The later one usually has a fanatical group of followers who show up every year just to purchase their product. (sometimes a quality product, other times a hopelessly overpriced example of smoke and mirrors).

The average faire attendee and/or patron doesn't have enough money, or doesn't want to spend enough, to make it worth Albion's while to have a strong regular faire presence. It's a hard enough job trying to convince a martial artist that he's well served spending $800-$1000 dollars on a cutting sword instead of that $150 MRL close-out special, let alone the average fair goer. Education and exposure are great, however, Albion isn't a non-profit educational enterprise. They're in the business to make swords, and money. If people are concerned about educating the masses then they should poney up the bones for a quality piece and take it to the fairey elf and turkey leg fest themselves. From what I've seen Albion has plenty of work to keep them busy right there in the shop.

That's a little humor there folks, not a rant. Wink

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Eric Bergeron




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 10:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well here is where Albion can actually do it now with there squire line, they can still bring with them a couple of there next gen's and also bring a good stock of squire line and let the preformers use the squire line and get used to working with it, before you know it albion will be selling a lot of squire line swords as there name and preformance spread out. Not only can Albion educate people on proper sword use can also let them handle a next gen sword and show them this is what a historical sword would feel like and then let them hold the squire line and say this is also a historical model only that its intended for reenacting etc.. I think albion could make it if they went that root.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2005 11:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you guys have any idea what it takes to get a spot at Bristol? The buildings are all permanent structures that are subject to zoning laws. They require foundations and real roofs. It would be best to take over an existing building, but imagine the cost of that. We're talking thousands and thousands of dollars. Then of course there's the fees charged simply to DO the faire. Then there's the cost associated with building up the stock required to supply it.

Then, please consider what the markup of these products is. The profit margins of wares made here in the USA isn't much. Add the overhead of a startup business with a huge R&D effort, a ton of equipment leases, a large building, and a workforce of more than a dozen people and you already have a large nut. Now add the money needed to enter a brand-new market with a large entry fee and add up all the numbers and see how long it will take to get into the black from there.

How many years would it take to get the investment back?

Then one must consider the market served by such events. it's already a dwindling market and wasn't very large to begin with. Wouldn't it make sense for Albion and other US makers to go attack other markets: ones that are much, much larger and more established with people who have more cash and are willing to spend it.

How much sense is this making? I don't think it's a good equation, myself.

A more realistic scenario is to attack the marketplace served by lower-cost import makers. The number of units these guys sell is absolutely staggering. To transition even 5% of these customers into consumers of a higher-end product would more than double the existing sales numbers of the USA higher-priced makers. That's how small the existing marketshare of the local guys really is.

Then consider the marketplace served by the custom knife makers. The prices for collector knives have steadily increased for decades. The enthusiast hobby surrounding that world and the dollar figures attached outshine the high-end sword market in spades.

Or how about the markets of home and office decor, high-end novelty items (Sharper Image, anyone?), movie and book collector tie-ins, and all those high-dollar markets that typically sell impulse luxury items.

NOW THESE ARE EQUATIONS THAT MAKE SOME FINANCIAL SENSE!

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Lloyd Clark




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As the former Operations Manager and Joust Director at Bristol (and am married to the former Arts and Crafts Coordinator) I can completely concur with Nathan's comments about the start-up costs of becoming a merchant at Bristol. While every year there are merchants that leave and sell their booths, most of these start at $15,000 and go up. And then the vending fee which, I believe, is either $1500 or $1800 this year. Plus the other associated costs makes it very hard for a new merchant to get started (one of the biggest is having enough "product" to thoroughly stock a booth for 9 weekends - that is a lot of swords).

Then, unless things have changed dramatically, there is the "rule" that Bristol limits the number of merchants selling approximately the same items. Arms and Armour are already there and are the "high end" sword sellers. There is another "new" arms merchant down in New Market selling Czech pieces, an "art sword" shop by the Black Friar Pub, and Starfire down at the joust. The market is pretty well covered at Bristol.

We did have Albion at our little faire in October and hope that they will be at our fairs this year. If not, we hope to coerce Craig to maybe consider us as we are only a few hours away from their shop Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin .

But the discussion on authenticity is moot one. Renaissance Faires are businesses that as little as 5 years ago were the booming stars in the entertainment/recreation business field. But, as many merchants and performers can tell you, it seems since 9/11 (and some will say before that) the faire crowds have gone down, sales have gone down, and most of the faires have lost the "magic" they used to have for merchants and performers alike.

Albion is great company that produces a fantastic product and I am sure that Howy and Amy will tell you that they are busy enough just filling orders.

Cheers,

Lloyd Clark
2000 World Jousting Champion
2004 World Jousting Bronze Medalist
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan, I think you hit the nail when you mentioned everyone not knowing the costs associated with doing a faire. I don't. However, I've read enough out of idle curiosity to know its not just a show up and sell affair most places AND it seems like people are missing the point that you have to show up weekend after weekend for a couple months most places.

Here is an alternative for anybody that feels strongly about their local faire's potential.

If you think there is money to be made at a local faire, why not talk to Albion about becoming their official agent there?

Do the market research and present a business case to Albion. Get some business facts instead of just trying to pressure them into doing something on a discussion board.

Convince Albion, privately, to let you run things at your faire as a reseller or franchisee. Front the cash and buy an inventory. Go and rent some space. Bottom line is take the risk out of the equation for Albion if you're that confident about the potential at your local faire.

If you're right its a win for you and Albion. If you're wrong its your loss but at least you get to keep a bunch of cool swords.

If I had the money and the time to risk it I'd give it a go, but I'd be doing it for fun and I'd be suprised to break even.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lloyd Clark wrote:
But the discussion on authenticity is moot one. Renaissance Faires are businesses that as little as 5 years ago were the booming stars in the entertainment/recreation business field. But, as many merchants and performers can tell you, it seems since 9/11 (and some will say before that) the faire crowds have gone down, sales have gone down, and most of the faires have lost the "magic" they used to have for merchants and performers alike.


Lloyd,

I've been to about a dozen differrnt fairs in the Eastern US over that interval and one thingI've noticed is they all seem to be geeting more and more identical to each other.

Same acts.

Same merchants.

Same themes.

Was a time when each one seems to have a distinct identity all its own. Now it seems like they are all becoming McDonalds and losing their differentiators Same regardless of location. Maybe its just me, but why go on a trip to one when the local event has all the same stuff?

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2005 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The wife , son and myself had been cast members with the Va. Ren-Faire the past 5 yrs and this year we said "no way".
It just became too much work for pretty much notta. In fact, the past two seasons, they shut down early due to lack of attendence.
A bladesmith friend of ours put up a booth last year and pretty much lost his arse. He had custom work of his, plus some antiques and out of two full weekends sold nothing. Yea, alot of people stop by to ask questions, but then proceeded to head for the "fantasy sword" vendors to plop down their $45 bucks for a dragon winged piece of danger stainless steel.

To me, Albion seems to do well as they are + with the occasional blade show appearences the ren-faire circut would seem not the place to be for them.

Just my 2cents.....


Bill

Roanoke Sword Guilde

roanokeswordguilde@live.com
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