12.9.07

A visit to Crow's Feet

And so, as they say, to Ross-on-Wye, for a pootle on the bike, and to drop in on one of the lovely shops who have had the foresight and good taste to stock my Red Flannel Elephant cards. Rather nervous about turning up unannounced, as my last attempt at cold calling was a bit of a disaster. Someone had recommended a toyshop in Chipping Norton as being a possible outlet, and after much sweating and beating of heart I did call in to introduce myself. As an ex-shop worker I am well aware of how unwelcome these visits can be, so I made sure the shop was empty and put on my best manners. Initially I was somewhat put off by the stony faced chap behind the desk, who to be honest looked more like a used car dealer than a jolly toyshop owner. After agreeing to talk to me, he told me he was quite happy with the range of cards he had, and that mine would have to be 'pretty special' to change his mind. After a cursory look, he declared that they 'weren't for him' and no, he wouldn't be interested in looking at any more designs in future. I don't mind being turned down. Well, I do, but it's something I've got used to, being freelance. I did mind the complete blank rudeness, the lack of warmth and inability to smile. Maybe, as Andy said, he just didn't like me. I left the shop feeling two inches high and my worst fears of direct approach confirmed. But my experience at Crow's Feet couldn't have been more different.




It was bustling. Vicky, one of the owners, was serving a happy bunch of customers, and I waited unobtrusively (as much as a 6ft person in bike jacket and boots can be unobtrusive)
until she was done. On finding out who I was, I was greeted like a long lost friend, and indeed, after only five minutes it was clear that she was, as Anne of Green Gables would say, 'of the race that knows Joseph'. If only I could find an agent who 'got' my work as much as this dear lady did. Is there anyone out there? I was offered coffee and then I brought out the samples of my new card designs; to my delight they were pounced on and exclaimed over. I tried to hide (unsuccessfully) in a corner while she extolled them to customers who all seemed to appreciate them. Star of the show was a card I almost didn't bring - remember the sad little rabbit? Well, by experiment, I turned him into one of my designs, thinking that perhaps he was a bit melancholy for retail.


But he was loved by all, and I think The Adventures of Fred (for such is his name) will be turned into a full set of different scene cards. But maybe not all quite so - poignant. However, Andy, who had temporarily vanished at this point, (gift shops not being a comfortable place for a tall chap), turned up in time for coffee too, which arrived in dear little rainbow spotted mugs, and we had a good browse, while I took photos of the marvellous displays.




It was impossible to move without falling in love with this trinket or that treasure. Vicky and Howard have an impeccable gift for picking the most charming, delightful and downright beautiful wares, and all arranged in gorgeous, eye catching arrangements which would tempt the tightest of purses - even mine...I ende
d up with a handful of exquisite cards, including three hare designs by different artists. I really wanted to show all of them together, as they are all unique and yet compliment each other beautifully, but I can only show two, as I haven't heard back from one of the artists - (I'm a bit of a stickler for copyright and it is not polite at all to reproduce a creatives work without their permission where possible).





The left hand artwork, 'Spring Fever' is by the artist Sonia Rollo and is published by Canns Down Press, and the right hand work, 'Mad March Hare' is by artist Julia Manning, who is also an independent card producer. I haven't collected anything for years (apart from books, letterpress equipment, toys and bread tins) but I might start an album of hare related ephemera. I'm sure I've got just enough room...

Over coffee I was formally introduced to the shop mascot - his home is on top of an old cabinet, keeping a watchful eye on the goings on, but he took time out to have his photo taken with another shop tr
easure, the sweetest little pink enamel vintage cup. I fell in love with both of them and had I been a little younger would only have been parted from them kicking and screaming. But I am far too mature for that kind of behaviour now!




We left Vicky and Howard with samples of the new card designs, and many good wishes on both sides. We will be back, soon. For those of you who love delightful shop interiors, the full set of photos can be found here on my Flickr page. And for those of you who cannot visit Crow's Feet, the new cards are also on my Etsy site, as singles or packs of six. Including Fred.

19 comments:

Jane said...

That boxing hares card was given to me as a happy anniversary card by my hubby last week - I have a thing about hares,
Lovely,
J
x

natural attrill said...

What a successful and enjoyable sounding trip, well done G !!
P.xx

Caroline B said...

What a lovely shop! Glad it was a successful visit, and the hares are beautiful.

Viggy La Q said...

Of course your cards have a market - and will be yet more enhanced in their loveliness with someone who oozes warmth and openness! Unlike the pesky misery-guts who had all the taste of a spikey twig suffering from total sensory deprivation.

Yay, lady! The Parker is parking her creative buns in good places - big love to Crow's Feet!

xxxx

PG said...

Vigs, you ARE outrageous and lovely. :)

What are creative buns? Do you think I have them? We will have to sort it out one day over a bottle or two of wine....

Merisi said...

PG,
in my experience some people are dully incapable of comunicating with strangers, even less so when they are afraid of being talked into buying something. This has nothing to do with you or the quality of your work, it's jsut that for whatever reason he doesn't want to widen his assortment. I you think that your cards would fit with his wares and clientel, drop him a line with a card or two, thanking him profusely for having taken the time to listen to your spiel. And then forget about the whole episode. He might even reconsider. Just don't expect it.

Merisi said...

PG,
in my experience some people are dully incapable of comunicating with strangers, even less so when they are afraid of being talked into buying something. This has nothing to do with you or the quality of your work, it's jsut that for whatever reason he doesn't want to widen his assortment. I you think that your cards would fit with his wares and clientel, drop him a line with a card or two, thanking him profusely for having taken the time to listen to your spiel. And then forget about the whole episode. He might even reconsider. Just don't expect it.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Oh Pooh to snotty man at Chipping Norton and hurrah for this lovely shop, mad jealious as it just the sort of shop I love! I also adore your sad rabbit and bet he has a few tales to tell.

Joanna said...

Glad you had a better time at crows feet. That man was horrid and really bad luck for your first atempts. I don't understand why some people put things over in such horrid ways they must be lacking in something. Had my own horrid experience last Friday and ended up shaking for the rest of the afternoon. Have put it behind me now, and moved on and have spoken to some really lovely people.

Jo
x

June said...

The different experiences of the way you were received, explains why 'Crows Feet' is doing so well, and is such a wonderfully exciting, positive place to go!
Who would want to go into a grumpy atmosphere to buy anything???!

I just love the Pink and green Hens/Cocks on display in the shop too... Presentation looks great there.

Well done Gretel.

Sue said...

What a fab shop and what excellent taste they have in taking your cards. Echoing Un Peu Loufoque above, 'poo with knobs on to the silly man'.
I can't help loving sad rabbit...reminds me of a manically depressed Eyore somehow....

carolyn said...

Cold calling can be a bit soul destroying, it's bad enough getting the brush off on the telephone let alone in person. Crow's Feet looks and sounds like a gorgeous shop, run by lovely people who obviously have the best of taste stocking Red Flannel Cards.

Stephanie Roth said...

That's so great, Gretel!

XO

Steph

LMS(oceandreamer) said...

I could not be more delighted for your experience at Crow's Feet. I also can't wait to see a rack of your delicious designed cards in the shop! I did a couple of cold calls when I made handbags - I sucked at it! It takes a real strong sense of self, I believe, to walk in and put it all out there! I applaud you Gretel and I will always happy clap for all your success now and in future!!
XOXOXO

Soozcat said...

Good on you for finding Crow's Feet, and good on them for stocking your cards! What a wonderful place that is.

Ash said...

Crow's Feet is a great name for a shop and I am delighted their taste extends to PG cards - you deserve every success, missus!
xx

lettuce said...

lovely pics, it looks like a gorgeous shop. The hares are gorgeous and Fred is gorgeous too.

off to check your flickr pics....

tash said...

What a horrid experience with the first toy-shop owner. He doesn't exactly sound like the type children would flock to. But I'm so glad you found someone who saw your cards for what they are - wonderful! :)

estherc said...

your artwork is lovely and i really like your site