Objections raised as local business refused stall at May Fair


An Alderley Edge business owner has written to the Parish Council regarding this year's Alderley Edge May Fair.

Judy O'Brien who runs Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, on London Road, wrote to parish councillors because she felt it was disappointing to see that priority had been given to traders from outside of the area, above local businesses, at the event.

Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe requested a stall at the May Fair but was refused on the grounds that another sweet stall, which was not local, had already been booked. Having discussed this with a councillor she decided to send two girls who work for her into the park to sell sweets from a basket, but they were told to leave the park by organiser Christine Munro soon after arriving.

Judy O'Brien said "After discussion with a representative from the council, I decided to send my girls to the fair with our usherette basket to sell little bags of sweets for children. However, even though it was my belief that the park is a public space, they were told in an unpleasant manner by one of the organisers, to leave immediately.

"Having visited the fair myself I observed that quite a few trades were duplicated, for instance there were several cup cake stalls, craft stalls and food sellers. Therefore I would have thought that even if Mr Simms could not be the only sweet stall, one other sweet stall could well have been incorporated. Incidentally, many of our customers asked us why we were not represented at the fair and were surprised to hear that an outsider had been given priority."

Organiser of the event Christine Munro explained "Judy O'Brien sent me an email on the 24th April asking if she could have a space on the park at the May Fair. I told her that the person who came last year with sweets had booked in to come again this year and I couldn't have two people selling the same product at the event as it wouldn't be viable for both of them, so I was sorry I couldn't let her have a space.

"On the morning of the May Fair I saw two girls come into the park with the parade. They were selling Mr Simms sweets on usherettes trays. I told them I had already told Judy I couldn't let them sell sweets on the park and asked them to leave. They told me that Judy had told them the Council had given permission for them to sell on the park. I replied that I had hired the park and the person who was selling sweets on a stall had paid to be there and it wouldn't be fair if someone came along and took their business. I told them they must leave and they did."

Christine added "When I first thought of organising an event on the park I wanted to include as many of the local businesses as possible. I wanted them to benefit from what we were doing.

"I approached everyone in the village and asked if they would like to be involved. Weinholts, Alan Jackson, Horseshoe Farm, Portland Wine and Corks Out all said they would like to take a space and they did. This year Chilli Banana and Aldeli asked if they could be included also and they came along. Many of the local businesses also provided fantastic prizes for the raffle which will help to finance the event for the future.

"All the traders have been very supportive and helpful and I have had very many complimentary comments from them to say how much they appreciate the hard work that is put into the event and how they benefit from the extra custom on the day."

Speaking at this week's Parish Council meeting, Cllr Sue Joseph said "I saw the girls when they were sent out of the park and they both looked quite upset about it. They were sent out pretty sharpish by a member of the organising committee."

Cllr Joseph added "I object to it strongly, first and foremost traders in the village should get the trade that's going. There were other stalls that there were two of so why couldn't we have two sweet stalls?"

Cllr Mike Williamson added "I agree. We'd like local businesses to be given a fair crack of the whip."

Judy O'Brien explained "In my opinion although it is wonderful to put so much effort in, the organisers of the May Fair or any other village market should not be allowed to go ahead without it being conditional that local businesses and craft people are given 1st priority, thus diluting the power of the key organisers.

"If Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe has organised anything, albeit it small, we have always been mindful to make the event open to everyone in the village. It is appalling to bring stalls in from far afield when local traders are willing and able to contribute."

What do you think? Should Mr Simms have been allowed to have a sweet stall at this year's May Fair and priority given to local businesses?

Please share your views via the comment box below.

Alderley Edge May Fair, Christine Munro, Parish Council


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mike Norbury
Thursday 14th June 2012 at 12:37 pm
Does a nationwide franchise such as mr simms count as a local business ? they are hardly an alderley edge based family concern when theres one in most towns. Its getting a bit like costa running the tea stall me thinks
Chris Norton
Friday 15th June 2012 at 8:42 am
I can't see how having two stalls selling sweets could cause any problems. Organisers fail to spot opportunities to make more funds. I'm sure the other stall would have moaned about it, but got over it quite quickly. It would be interesting to hear a legal view on mrs munro's position to ask the girls to leave. Local shops, regardless of being part of a national chain, are local shops and should be welcomed.
Steph Walsh
Saturday 16th June 2012 at 7:11 pm
I agree Chris. I've seen plentiful duplication at just about all markets I go to, from Wilmslow to Alderley to Rode Hall to May Fairs and so on and so forth, and can see absolutely no harm in such duplication. I, for one, rather welcome it.

Having Judy from Simm's at the May Fair is absolutely unlike having Costa, because franchises and chains are not the same thing. When Simm's opened many months ago, it was me who curbed the enthusiasm on these very boards when I said that it is not a 'unique' shop, but indeed a franchise that looks the same up and down the country. But does that really matter under the circumstances? Judy has been 100% Alderley Edge-focused since she opened and quite frankly I do not see why a bona fide local business should not be allowed at the May Fair just because one (or ten) of the same are already there.

Personally, I would have welcomed Jeeves (or Costa or anyone) throwing leaflets around at the Fair because, even though there are a ton of them in London, they are an Alderley Edge business too and should not be ostracised just because they're big enough to have more than one shop. There must be hundreds of Timpson's around, but the one in Alderley is precisely that; a business OF Alderley and as such not less valuable TO Alderley than one 'unique' business from twenty miles down the road.

Christine, I'm disappointed by the odd spin you're putting on this. Can you please explain why there was more than one cupcake stand allowed, as observed above, but the girl from Simm's were asked to leave pretty sharpish?
Brian Etchells
Saturday 16th June 2012 at 8:07 pm
As a stall holder at the May Fair myself (Guide Dog's for the Blind) I would just like to add that I feel heartily sorry for Christine that a local trader should go and complain to a local councillor behind Christine's back and then try to trade at the May Fair without paying for a stall.
I found Christine entirely gracious and willing to help in any way possible. I did not observe repetition of cup cake stalls. I think, on closer observation, you would find that there was one cake stall and Alderley Edge Primary School PTA were selling cup cakes.

There was also no two stalls selling the same food.

I do think we all need to remember what a fantastic job Christine and her team did. Long may it continue.
Sarah Walters
Sunday 17th June 2012 at 10:17 am
Whatever people's views are, it should be remembered that a LOT of work goes into these events, and the organisers have e final say on who trades etc. on the day.

I understand that Simms were unhappy with the decision, but to then go against that and send workers down to e fair, that they had already been told they wouldn't be able to trade at, isn't in the best of 'community spirit' is it!!!

I hope this doesn't put Christine off organising future events, because without people like her, there wouldn't be the great community events the village sees.
Kriss Coombes
Sunday 17th June 2012 at 10:39 am
I don't think that Christine had any choice but to ask the girls to leave otherwise a precedent would have been created whereby anyone could wonder onto the park selling their wares, thus undermining the stallholders who had booked months in advance and paid their fees.

Nor do I think that Mr Simms sweet shop are in a position to comment on "Unpleasant manners", not something I received when I entered their shop asking asking if they would mind displaying the free Mayfair leaflets for their customers. They were the only shop in the village to refuse.

I agree with Brian that Christine does a great job for this village and well deserves the enormous respect which is shown by the majority of it's residents and will not be deterred by this minor hiccup.
Mike Norbury
Sunday 17th June 2012 at 6:00 pm
if none registered traders turn up at say a main sporting event or music festival they are classed as unlicensed touts etc and face proscecution or arrest .
Steph Walsh
Sunday 17th June 2012 at 8:00 pm
I thought that the original question here was, 'Should Mr Simms have been allowed to have a sweet stall at this year's May Fair and priority given to local businesses?'. It was not, 'Do you think Christine does a great job at organising the many events she organises?', nor 'Do you think that allowing someone who did not pay for a stall to sell her wares anyway would have been fair?', nor, 'Is it hard to organise such events?', nor any permutations thereof.

Lisa writes in her article that Judy requested to have a stall at the May Fair and was told she could not because someone else was already there selling sweets. Equally, the quoted Councillors all expressed perplexity at the way in which non-local businesses were allowed to participate while a local one was not *on counts of duplication*. Sue Joseph specifically is quoted above as saying that *there were duplicate stalls* at the May Fair. Once again the original question still stands. Furthermore, did Judy want a stall without paying for it?
Ricky Lee
Sunday 17th June 2012 at 10:17 pm
There are many views to this but rather than argue about whats right or whats wrong, we need to look at how to improve our future events.

1. Clear transparent plans of vendors types and maximum number required to be publish as early as possible.
2. I agree direct duplicates should be avoided, clear example are there was a sweet stall and there was a stall that sold homemade fudge, even though they were both selling sweet treats they are both unique and that's good for the event.
3. I also noticed that Co-op had staff giving out re-usable bags, leaflets and voucher. I think this is an area where local business should always be given the option for a slot, so they can promote and secure future trades.
4. If we were to have priority to local business and an event with mainly local business, then it would been no difference to just a trip down London Road, we need these outside traders to give variation and choice to the public.

Maybe to set up a stall selection committee for future events, made up of the members of the organiser, the local trader association and members of the public.
Judy O'Brien
Tuesday 19th June 2012 at 6:06 pm
In response to Mike Norbury's comments... Mr Simms, Alderley Edge is a privately owned and family managed, independent business which operates under the umbrella of a very loosely run "franchise" with a small F. We are free to purchase our own stock & do our own marketing. Costa is a chain which is very strickly goverened.

Mr Simms Alderley has established itself as a community spirited business which chooses to contribute to local charities and events. We are very mindful of our place in a village environment and one of our key objectives is to contribute to the local community. Since opening we have donated to many, many local charities, fetes & local events as well as organising 2 key very sucessful village based events which benefited the local and wider community.

Just to clarify... Mr Simms was more than willing to pay for any kind of
stall at the fair. However, upon request we were turned down. Yet, stalls
from far afield were allowed, which does not seem community spirited to us.

We accepted a suggestion from a local councillor to sell sweets in the park,
which is incidently, a public space, as an alternative for which we would
have very happlly paid for. It was only due to this suggestion that we
arrived at the fair with sweets in a basket. We most certainly did not hope
or intend to obtain a stall without paying for it. Since opening we have
worked hard as a small business to offer what we can to the village and it
was sad for us not to be able to join in such a wonderful event.

Furthermore, I have in the past publically praised the organisers of both
the Christmas market and the May Fair. In response to Kriss Coombes'
comments, my comment was that our girls were asked to leave in an unpleasant
manner, and not that anyone had unpleasant manners!

Finally, to clarify.. a person came into the shop with flyers on the Friday before the May Fair... we did not take them as I am always very mindful of not taking leaflets,
posters and flyers that are expensive to produce from people if they may not
be used. There was simply no time to give them out as they were being handed
to us on the Friday afternoon and as such would have been un used if left at
the shop.

Observers will find that the Mr Simms shops vary greatly in their choice of
stock, attitude to customer services, objectives, displays, marketing and
pricing... we have no direct mandates as Costa have and the Simms shops are
not all the same by any means.
Mike Norbury
Thursday 21st June 2012 at 12:21 pm
ok judy lets beg to differ on definition of nationwide franchise as opposed to local business.
to find out more about the co. i googled the name.... first google entry mr simms olde sweet shop Franchises with a capital f . sorry to argue but your hq seems to think they run franchises.
Judy O'Brien
Thursday 21st June 2012 at 6:24 pm
Of course, "Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe" is a franchise. However, the Alderley Edge outlet is privately owned as a sole trader business and is privately managed with very, very little intervention from the franchisor.

You may or may not be aware Mike, that franchise models differ greatly in their terms,contracts and agreements. My point was that the business model and structure of Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe a is loose one and as such does not compare to the comparison you made to Costa.

I fully appreciate all the hard work the organisers & Christine put in to getting such am event off the ground. She stated in LIsa's article that she invited many local traders to join in the May Fair. It was apparant that stalls were duplicated yet for some reason we were not invited nor allowed to participate, which was disappointing for both our staff who enjoy interacting with local people & some of our customers, as we do feel we have made efforts in the 9 months we have been open to contribute to the local community. Maybe next time!
Norma Turner
Wednesday 27th June 2012 at 10:56 pm
I agree with every comment made,I also think that a great deal of organisation goes into getting the fair on the park.
I would like to say that delegation is the way forward.

I went to an open meeting in 2011 as I myself am a local person with a small business, with a view to helping what I think is a brilliant community project.

I felt that there was to much to do for one person, if each member took a task on i.e. entertainment, stallholders, local businesses, advertizing,toilets,police road closing etc. then possibly nobody would be overlooked.
I actually made a suggestion at the meeting I went to of using a screen in one of the marquees to advertise local businesses that have nothing to sell , it is a way of making money for the event not taking up lots of room.
You can satisfy some of the people some of the time ect ect.!!