CPU Story - Chapter Eight

Here is the Eighth chapter of the CPU Enterprises Story which was originally sent in the CPU Spring 2010 Newsletter - emailed out to customers on 22.05.10. Written by Peter

If you read the last episode of the CPU Story I am sure that you would have noticed we went through a very difficult time. It lasted for quite a while but things did take a turn for the better when we eventually obtained a stall on Peterborough City Market. We were selling wool from an open stall which meant bringing in the stock every morning and taking it away every evening. It was hard work but well worth it.

After a while doing this the City Council decided to refurbish the part of the market that we were sited on. This was great news as it meant we would have a roof over our heads instead of leaky canvas. Plus we would get a lockup stall, so no more humping our stock in and out every day.

However the time of the refurbishment was not easy for us as we were moved around all over the place. One day we would be in the Car Park and the next in a local side street - but our customers did their bit and kept looking around for us.

First Perminant Stall

Our new permanent spot was a little corner stall near the Pet Stall and we soon settled right into market life. During the next couple of years trade slowly increased as our customers discovered we were honest traders selling quality yarns at the right price. But just as important was that Dianne's knowledge of yarn and her helpful manner brought in customers by recommendation. Often customers would bring in their knitting for Dianne to put right or show them a difficult stitch. She also had a group of knitters doing garments for customers who couldn't knit or didn't have the time.

We were fast outgrowing our small stall, so we decided to ask the market manager if there was a larger stall available. He put us on the list and it was not long before we were offered a much bigger stall quite close to our existing one, just around the corner from the Pet Stall.

Part of the Larger Stall

The new stall was over three times the size with a frontage of 24 feet, so lots more space for displaying yarns and patterns - we soon filled it up though. This is also when the Craft side of the business started. We had many customers who wanted just one pair of Teddy Eyes to complete a toy or a few beads to fancy up a jumper. Most existing retailers only sold them in larger packs so we found a supplier and started making up our own little packs under the banner of Caroles Crafts - later to become Craft Bits.

After a while it became noticeable that the City Council seemed to be reluctant to spend money on maintenance or promotion of the Market, but they still increased the stall rents. The result of this was that quite a few traders decided to give up their stalls and move to other Markets.

The chap on the stall opposite us, who sold Ladies Underwear from old fashioned bloomers to modern flimsies, decided he too would move elsewhere. This was a bit of a blow for us as it was one of the only places for miles around where the older lady could get their old fashioned knickers. They often popped across to us while their pants were being wrapped, so he brought us quite a bit of trade. It also meant there was an empty stall opposite which made that bit of the market look unused, so less people passed by.

We decided to defy the trend and negotiated a favourable rental price for the empty stall. This now meant we had a 48 foot frontage which we believe made us one of the biggest market wool stall in the East of England at that time.

The problem now was how to fill and promote it.

Find out next time.

Chapter Nine of the CPU Enterprises Story

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