Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Market Stall Organisation

While working on the real wood-and-cloth market stall, thinking about the selection and presentation of goods and working simultaneously on the "market stall" website, I'm pondering how to sort and how to present the goods on the website - and what and how much information to provide with each piece.

I carry a few replicas - like the spindle sticks, the netting needles, naturally dyed silk threads, and so on. However, I don't have "perfect" replicas for sale in the sense of the original material is used for the replicas (the correct metal, the correct wood) and that they are made using only medieval tools and methods (and that would be really pricey). In addition, I carry some goods that are part or complete conjecture - I have pincushions to keep pins and needles safe, I have parchment tablets for weaving. And finally, there are some things that are first seen later than the middle ages, like the "Nähsteine", where I'm actually not sure whether they were not used before the 17th or 18th century or whether usage was just so normal/unspectacular that they are not shown on the few pictures that we have from medieval sewing work.

When people come to me on the market to buy real-life, they can just ask and I can explain and discuss things with them. In the internet - not so easy. It is of course possible to mail or phone, but takes significantly more effort to do so.
So the big question is: Do I need to write the story behind each of the objects on the market stall webpage? Or would nobody care? Do you, as buyer of things as LH equipment want to know exactly what, where, when, why? (Personally, I would.) Comments and input, anyone?

5 comments:

Arachne said...

Sources are...well, something I love and treasure. But I don't think you need to write the whole story of each item. Some sort of short-hand info; the original/source - material, provenence, date--your product - material, machine made/hand-made with authentic tools/power-tools. Something short and simple, just to give the customer an overview.

But then again, something like the parchment tablets which are a plausibly-historic-but-no-sources kind of item may perhaps benefit from a little extra info. But I'll be happy to give them my Modern Craftsperson's Seal of Approval (MCSA?)anyway! I LOVE the parchment tablets!

A Life Long Scholar said...

I'd love to see as much information as is available for each item on the web. Perhaps have a very short form next to the photo, and a "for much more information click here" button?

Aethelflaed said...

Personally, I love to know all the gory details about what I'm buying, and just how authentic a thing is. However, I think I may be in a minority, and if there is simply a brief description of an item's story, customers can always contact you with more specific questions, right?

hsifeng said...

If you want a simple answer, you could you a 'rating scale' for historical accuracy (like Historic Enterprises does at the bottom of their item pages: http://historicenterprises.biz/gown-early-medieval-10th13th-century-wool-p-947.html?cPath=100_191) This could link to a full description as well...

a stitch in time said...

Thanks for all the comments! I see that the tendency goes towards "tell 'em all" - so I'll think of a nice way to tell the story behind each object. Maybe I'll turn the "story behind" into a little sequel on this blog, with a new item each post, so they actually get done in an acceptable time - since I know some folks are waiting for the market stall pages...

Arachne, I'm glad you love them that much, and I'll gladly take your MCSA, knowing the things you do with tablets! I finally sat down yesterday night with my blue-pink band and started moving it to the new tablets (and I'm already over the middle...)

Hsifeng, I have thought about a similar "rating", but I have some problems with the concept. Historical accuracy is not always easy to grasp, and while it is easy to point out this and that not in accord with what we know today, where do you start to give the "five stars"? Is a hand-sewn garment made from machine-made cloth that is close to the original in thread count more five-starrish than a hand-sewn garment from hand-woven fabric - but fabric that is quite different from the original cloth used? Do you need historical tools for manufacturing a five-star item regardless of whether that can be seen later? And how is the customer supposed to know whether the shopmakers criteria for "five-star" are similar to his or her own criteria? Perhaps to the customer, hand-made with historical tools matters much more than the actual sort of wood for a spindle, but the vendor sees it the other way round?