We know that a lot has been said in the last week or so about the combining of the two non-food merchant areas at Lilies War. We hope that this will provide more insight as to why the decision has been made to do so at this time. Please note, the merchants we are discussing, unless otherwise stated, are not the food merchants. At this time the only location the food merchants can be is where they currently are.
So many have asked why now?
For years we have heard comments from both attendees and merchants regarding the separate merchant areas. Many of the new attendees admit to not knowing there was two separate areas for merchants. They also admit that when asked about the New Market area they have been told that the New Market is for the “lesser” merchants who sell inferior goods. Many of the New Market merchants have heard the same thing. And several had stated that if things stay the way they are they would not be returning to Lilies War.
And for as many years that we have been hearing these comments, the idea of combining the two areas has been debated. Both sets of perspective Event Stewards for Lilies War 32, were keen on the idea of combining the Old and New Market Areas. The Committee agreed and the chosen Stewards proceeded with the plan.
Many have also commented on the logistics with the merchant staff. There are two members of the merchant staff that most, if not all merchants come in contact with, the Merchant Liaison and the Merchant Coordinator. The Merchant Liaison handles any necessary paperwork during the “off war” cycle and assists, when necessary, with any on site activates. The Merchant Coordinator, which is a merchant, handles all of the merchant forms and on site merchant activities. These two individuals are very familiar with the merchants and very good at what they do. They have the trust of both the Committee and the Staff when it comes to any and all merchant issues. It can be quite difficult to watch out for the three Merchant Coordinator and run their own booth. Ion the past the Coordinator has had volunteers to assist them with these duties. But just as it is getting harder to find volunteers to set up for an event or sit a gate shift or two, it is becoming more difficult to find volunteers to provide the daily support that the Merchant Coordinator needs.
Why the Old Market Area?
Our options were:
1. Move all the merchants to the New Market area.
a. When the idea of moving all of the merchants to the New Market area was last discussed, it was made known that if the plan were to proceed multiple Old Market merchants would not be returning to Lilies War.
b. After surveying the land, it is on a steeper grade (some areas more than other), and there are certain areas that can get quite marshy when storms come through camp.
c. It is more centrally located in the camp as a whole, especially since this upcoming war the battlefield will be located on the east end of camp.
2. Move all the Merchants to the Old Market area.
a. With this choice, we know that at least 1 merchant has chosen not to return to Lilies war.
b. While the land is flatter, for the most part, moving the merchants to this area will displace the campers who have traditionally camped there the last several years. However, this would not be the first time that land would have to be acquired for a War activity.
c. With the battlefield moving, having all the merchants in the Old Market area will provide for a better draw to that end of camp. With Archery and the Food Court this will be an additional draw to the west side of camp.
3. Move all of the merchants to an entirely new area
a. All of the merchants that have stated that they will not be returning if forced to move, would do just that, not return to Lilies War. Thus losing even more merchants than either of the previous two options.
b. While there is other land that might be flatter, less marshy during storms, or have less camping. There are very few areas that have all three, and are available for use by the war.
c. There is no guarantee that the third location would provide the best of land and camping conditions and be centrally located enough for attendees to visit. In fact, there are a few areas that could fit the other criteria, but are so far removed from any other war activity that merchants would not get any foot traffic during the week.
4. Keep the Merchants where they were last year.
a. This option would lose merchants as well.
b. It would not address the many concerns that we have received from both merchants and attendees.
Is there room in the Old Market area for all of the merchants?
Fortunately, there is. Last year we saw just over 900 people come through gate, which was in fact a 5% to 8% decline from the previous year. And some of those were merchants.
Why didn’t you tell us about this sooner why keep it secret?
The final decision was made at the Lilies War Committee meeting at Kris Kinder, on December 9th. Yes the irony of deciding the fate of the merchant areas while at a merchant event is not lost on us. And it was never our intent to keep this information from anyone. All Lilies Committee meeting are open to everyone. This was not one of them. And while we usually have a general idea of what will be discussed at each meeting, you never really know what will come up and how long it will take until you are in the middle of it. After the meeting a medical issue came up that prevented the announcement in court that evening. A few days later, the decision was made public for us, while at the same time the Stewards were planning an announcement of their own and the Merchant Staff was preparing the updated paperwork that will be sent out to merchants soon. Unfortunately, an additional delay occurred so we could answer other urgent matters that had arisen.
Does Lilies care about merchants?
In fact, we do. We understand that in order to thrive, we need to encourage more merchants to come to Lilies War. In order to do that we need to provide the best atmosphere that Lilies War can provide. That includes combining the market areas, and asking the populace to continue supporting all the merchant who attend the War as much as they can. At other events, please talk to other merchants about Lilies War and encourage them to attend! Perhaps together we can make Lilies War more than just a vacation for some, perhaps we can turn it into a vacation with a thriving and prosperous merchant area. And frankly, more merchants and a better shopping experience will attract more people.
What about those merchants who don’t wish to move from the New Market area?
Since we are opening up that area for camping it means that if a merchant doesn’t want to leave that area, for whatever reason, they can become an in-camp merchant. They will have to follow the rules for being an in-camp merchant. But it’s an absolutely feasible option.
We believe this decision is for the best for our War. We have weighed options, and as outlined earlier, the logical course of action is to provide a consolidated merchant’s area where all merchants are all seen and known, drawing not only hopefully more, but better and more profitable shopping for our merchants. We know that not everyone likes this decision, and that some will even take it personally. We…I apologize for that. It is never our intent to make anyone upset. We also understand that individuals have to do what they think is best for them and their situation, even if that means not attending Lilies War any longer. But we ask that you please try to understand that we, the Committee, have to do what we feel what is best for Lilies War.
As always, if you have any comments or questions about Lilies War please contact us via email at:
Event Stewards – [log in to unmask]
Lilies War Chair – [log in to unmask]
And if you are merchant and you have questions about merchanting at Lilies War, please contact the Merchant Staff at [log in to unmask]
Baroness Rebecca Beaumont, OP
Chair of the Lilies War Committee