What's your venue like?

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What's your venue like?

Post by Joe - Llandrindod on Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:31 am

I thought this would be the best way to start out this section of the forum: let's have a description of the venue you're currently using, or which you have used in the past.

I'll start with our previous venue, where we stayed for 18 months. This was in the Rock Park (a wooded stream valley a few minutes from the centre of town), where there is an outdoor space under a Victorian canopy, with the spa buildings adjacent to allow access to loos. The café part was provided by the adjacent private tea room.

Advantages:
--a beautiful, wide open space, in a lovely location
--extensive parking right at the site
--no steps (easy disabled access)
--no worries about catering; we had an arrangement for two drinks at £1 each for volunteers (paid through our donations), and extras (including cakes) bought by individuals
--no problems with mess or spills, because we were outside
--no concerns about fire escapes or emergency access
--very good light (in good weather)
--lots of people discovered it by walking past

Disadvantages:
--offputting in bad weather (especially driving rain) - including the risk of having to cancel
--too cold in the winter (requiring a few-month break)
--entirely open to the public, with frequent invasions by passing dogs
--very cheap (they basically let us have the space for peanuts, because they did well out of extra customers to the cafe)
--could take a long time to get drinks through the café (fancy coffee-maker, etc.)
--awful light (in heavily overcast weather, or winter evenings!)
--a little too far from the centre of town to pick up 'passing trade' from shoppers

In many ways it was a really good venue (with mainly weather-related problems), and in the end it was changes to the management strategy that led to us looking elsewhere.
We even had a write-up in the Guardian that includes a couple of pictures:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/17/joys-repair-cafe-mad-max-kitkat-nice-cup-of-tea

...and there are lots more pictures here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rcllandrindod/

Joe - Llandrindod

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Re: What's your venue like?

Post by Joe - Llandrindod on Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:00 pm

So, that was the old venue. The new one is the CELF (arts) centre, five minutes out of town, on the main road. It's entirely indoors, mainly in one large room (used as a performance room) with good lighting and floors we don't need to worry about too much! There's a small garden area at the back, which catches the sun (if there is any; this is Llandrindod, remember...). We also have a kitchen area and the usual loos etc.

In contrast with the Rock Park venue (previous post), I can say...
--No problems with the weather!
--Parking on site... but not a huge amount, and occasionally people have had to walk further than they want.
--Very generous arrangement with the centre owners that charges us a minimal fee for use of the space, as it is a community service.
--We can make our own teas and coffees (and supply biscuits) for free, for guests and volunteers, with the money coming from donations. This is a big plus on one side, but a concern if we're short of volunteers, since the catering is all down to us!
--Not as pleasant being enclosed indoors, but the outdoor garden area helps a lot in summer.
--Outdoor area is critical for grindstones or other noisy operations - in enclosed spaces it would be very disruptive otherwise.
--no problems with passing dogs; very few people have ever tried to bring one indoors into an arts centre!
--Not the easiest place to get to for some visitors; there are some regulars from the previous venue (on the other side of the town) that we never see. However, that's always the way, and we do have a bus route down the main road.

Overall, it's much more reliable, and only really lacks the the idyllic surroundings on summer days. In the long run, we've found that reliability makes a big difference...

So, what are your venues like, and what are the problems or benefits of them?




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Re: What's your venue like?

Post by Amanda Wheatland on Wed May 09, 2018 10:50 am

Argh! wrote a reply just now and didn't press send! So, here I go again! We hire a small hall in our local Christian Centre which runs a cafe selling drinks, cakes and a cooked lunch. The Christian Centre cafe is mostly used by the elderly, vulnerable and homeless and we do get a lot of interest from the elderly cafe visitors which is good. The hall is small and we are new and growing slowly but we will probably out grow it at some point. It's heated, well lit and has a small fire door to the outside which we can keep open if the weather is nice. Lots of electric socket points too. Disadvantage is the cost of hire which is £50 for !0.30-1pm I wonder what other cafes pay and if anyone has been able to find a free venue in their town? The hall is tucked away and so if people don't know of our existence they won't stumble upon us by chance, we need to get an A-board up on our high st to advertise our existence.

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Re: What's your venue like?

Post by Joe - Llandrindod on Wed May 09, 2018 1:01 pm

Thanks for that, Amanda! Sounds like you've got a really good venue in terms of the environment, and getting a ready-made audience through the doors, but that price seems a bit steep. Unless you do very well indeed on donations, that must be hard to cover?

I don't know whether they're open to negotiation, but it strikes me that they're getting extra footfall through the customers you're bringing in (and hopefully will do increasingly once the word spreads). Our first venue worked really well because they treated us as a means of bringing in a good income for the day by attracting lots of people - the only charge for us there was drinks for the volunteers (at cost, £1 each), and £5 to cover electricity.

It might be worth appealing to their community spirit, and seeing how everyone benefits if it starts to get off the ground properly; after all, anything you're not giving to the venue can be used on more advertising and getting more people into their cafe...

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Re: What's your venue like?

Post by Amanda Wheatland on Wed May 09, 2018 3:08 pm

Hi, the Christian Centre operate on a shoestring, the cafe is more of a community service than a money maker it sells hot drinks and cakes, all made there in their kitchen and one hot meal proper meat and two veg meal for £3 mostly for the elderly, vulnerable and homeless cooked on site and served up at lunchtime, just the one meal option as it's staffed by volunteers. They already house our community fridge for free, but yes it is a lot. We are paying the same as others do who book it for dance classes or Weight Watchers or parties etc. I do think that they could be a little more generous considering we are volunteers and this isn't a money making venture. Hey ho, as I say I think in terms of size we will outgrow it but I think we'd be hard pushed in our town to find anything cheaper!

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Re: What's your venue like?

Post by TransitionStirling on Tue May 15, 2018 3:26 pm

Here at Transition Stirling, we are fortunate to receive CCF funding which means we can lease a unit in the Victorian city centre arcade where we host our electrical, mechanical, sharpening & misc repairs. We were also able to make us of a 'pop up' shop facilitated by Volunteer Scotland during their Festival of Volunteering and the arcade management gave us use of one of the empty units for textiles and jewellery repairs. This year, as we're going out into communities,, we'll be working in partnership with organisations such as schools and local community groups to make use of their facilities. For example, our July repair cafe is at a venue which is part of Callander Summerfest.

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Re: What's your venue like?

Post by andyc on Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:54 pm

In Sheffeild we now operate out of two venues, basically free of charge. One is Heeley City Farm, which is a visitor attraction open to the public with free admission. the farm is funded mainly by various grants etc, but does have some commercial activities on site including a cafe and a garden centre. They also run various courses in things like blacksmithing which provide an income. The whole idea of the farm is to support the local community and the community return that support. As well as being the type of community service the farm is keen to encourage, the Repair Cafe also benefits the farm in two distinct ways. First we bring them some extra publicity and also extra visitors. Also, because we fix stuff, we have a steady supply of broken equipment that is used on the farm, so we save them a bit of money in that way. So everyone wins! It's also a really nice atmosphere because not everyone is interested in tikering with their broken toaster. So while Dad stays and learns how to fix it, Mum and the kids go and have a look at the animals.

Our other venue is 'Strip The Willow' which is a small shop just off Abbeydale Road in the city's antiques quarter that specializes in upcycled an recycled furniture. They have an upstairs room they didn't use for much other than storage, so the owner contacted us and asked us if we would like to hold some Repair Cafe's there as there was some good synergy between the upcycled stuff and repairing things. They also had a small cafe which closed down a while back. However we've resurected it in a small way to serve tea and coffee to our visitors, so again we actually do have the 'cafe' bit!

Various other people have also asked us to apper at events they have been organising across the city, most of which we've managed to do. Unfortunately the big problem is that most people still have never heard of a repair cafe, so getting a market stall out to galas / fetes / summer fairs etc is really useful for publicity purposes. We don't have the ability to fix much at these events, but we can take along a few sample items and lots of photos to show the type of things we can do.

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