BROCANTE: MONOPOLY on Street Food traders by Organiser

BROCANTE(S). Can the organiser (legally) maintain a monopoly on provision of food & drink? (I have read Art. L310-2 and the loi du 1e juillet 1901). OK, who are the parties in a Brocante? The organiser; stall-holders (particuliers and professionnels); the Maire (to give permission); the local shops & restaurants; (the Police Municipal); the food and drink providers in the street at the Brocante (crêpes, caramelised peanuts, Barbe de Papa, the coffee urn, wine by the glass, etc, etc) as distinct from local bars.

MY PROBLEM: I have been refused a stall to sell my takeaway pizzas at the 3-day, town centre, Fête du Travail Brocante on 1st to 3rd May in Montrichard 41400.

Outside of being a ‘particulier’ who might want to sell my 2nd hand stuff at the Brocante, I have recently turned Artisan and have just bought a new Pizza Trailer (‘Food Truck’ as the French now call them, although mine is not a van but a trailer). So my request for a stall at the Brocante is a Professionnel, not a Particulier.

This Brocante is organised by a town Association called ‘Modern Dance’ (despite name, totally French) which raises money for (as the name suggests). This bloke has organised 2, centre of town Brocante for all the 7 years that I have lived here (one in May, one in Aug, in Montrichard 41400). And he does a great job, works very hard, is known all through the town, is hand in glove with the Mairie, etc, etc, I am sure that we all live in parochial, back-slapping, palm-greasing towns like mine.

I’ll put it another way: HOW is the organiser (and his wife and daughter) allowed to sell Crêpes at the Brocante, when, by French law, I am on the appropriate register at the Prefecture as a food-seller and I have done my food hygiene training and am on the register at the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat, when the organiser has not / is not? How is the unregulated, unregistered, untrained head of the Association and organiser allowed to (for example) sell Crêpes TO THE PUBLIC for money? And the power to say to me that I can’t sell my food?

Brocantes are governed by Art. L310-2 of the Code de Commerce;jsessionid=D02B6A6099A75191BF2748EF1EC59358.tpdila09v_3?idSectionTA=LEGISCTA000006133180&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000005634379&dateTexte=20150411

and Associations are governed by the le Loi du 1e juillet 1901.

Neither of these touch on or address my problem or inquiry. However, they raise another question, if at a Brocante one is “only allowed to sell exclusively used, personal objects” (2nd hand crap), why is the organiser allowed to sell food & drink, when the one and only prevailing law on Brocantes states sale of used personal stuff?

« Les particuliers non inscrits au registre du commerce et des sociétés sont autorisés à participer aux ventes au déballage en vue de vendre exclusivement des objets personnels et usagés deux fois par an au plus. »

(my inquiry has got nothing to do with the widely abused ‘only 2 brocantes per annum’ rule, which I don’t care about as I am a professional registered at the Chambre de Commerce).

As we have communicated so far by telephone answering machine message (me requesting a space, him leaving me a message to say ‘no can do’), I wonder if he has not understood that I a registered Artisan food-seller i.e. a professional? I don’t think it is that at all; I think it is the usual naked French protectionism; ‘I can, my mates can, you can’t. And while I have all the power that I have, you can F*** off, new person’.

So addressing my actual questions, how does the organiser of the Brocante have the legal power to maintain a monopoly, so he, his family and his Association are the only ones that can sell food and drink in the street? (les commerces will do as they wish to too), contrary to the apparent provision of the only (?) law on Brocantes, « des ventes au déballage »?

Well said: there’s more than one way to skin a cat !

Hy, Tony,

I've been président of an Association de Parents d'élèves and as such organizing a marché aux puces in my village. In the rules of this marché there was a stipulation that no food might be sold. No barbe-à-papa, no saucissons etc. This is because the whole thing was free for stall holders and visitors and our only source of income was our own food and drink stall. Actually, we made a killling, because not only the visitors, but also the stall holders would come and get their frites, sandwiches and drinks at our bar.

So it is logical they don't want you selling pizza, since this is interfering with their business model. Maybe the organiser is selling crêpes, but do you know wether this is for his own profit or for the association?

Why don't you try and strike a deal with these people. Tell then you will assist in their fête, sell parts of pizza to the general public and give them 20% of your gross income. With the mark-up on pizza this is still a good deal, because you stand to sell a lot of pizza to the public that THEY are gathering for you.

So try to create a win/win. Offer them to advertise their brocante with leaflets in your pizza boxes the months preceding the event... I'm sure they'll get around.

Everybody knows that food is necessary and profitable. The vide greniers round our way have full buvettes… buy a ticket…get your 3 courses . You can’t just pitch up and sell Food. Even in England you can’t pitch up and sell Food.

John, I would like to see a French legal definition of 'the common good' - keep the lawyers happy for ages?

Even from your own opening remark you said that 'ultimately down to the Maire' which is the point I was making.

Maires here have far more discretionary powers than one might think, and I suggested that a Brit annoying a lot of French people wouldn't get him very far. Others think otherwise. Personally I would rather spend my energies getting the business going on a far better operational base than fighting to be allowed to flog some pizzas in one place a couple of times a year.

Incidentally I used to charge people for this advice in my working career, so it is not an idle thought to while away some time.

However and as ever - not MY time, nor MY energy so why should I care? Answer? Well I don't.

I agree with what John as posted, take them on, what have you got to loose, you have a serious investment sat on your drive and not making you any money.

I don't have any specific experience of markets, but Mairies are duty bound to operate in the common good. It says here

that markets are always ultimately down to the Mairie, even though they may delegate day to day organisation to an association, as is presumably the case here. Above link also says that markets organised by associations have to follow the same rules as markets organised by communes.

If they're refusing on the grounds of a lack of space, I think you're stuffed, unless you can prove this isn't true. If they're refusing on the grounds that they don't want competition, you can say that the association as delegates of the conseil are duty bound to operate in the common good. This will probably just make you unpopular, and they'll think up a different reason for refusing, but you can try.

Hmm, Elizabeth -

might he not have to change his name to a more suitable one? Something more in line with attacker/attacked

(I do get these confused in today's PC world). I think 'Mohammed' might be a good choice though?

Send a letter of recommende, then use your protection juridique to sue the Maire. Discrimination is now the flavor of the month, since Charlie hebdo.

Hope you can prove xenophobia.

I agree with you Norman. As an immigrant living in this country I am more than happy to go along with their "quirks". If that is the way a thing is done, who am I to argue. If getting on with the Mayor helps me,well, why not? We are to have a "Methaniser"on our doorstep here. I am NOT happy. But I waited for the locals to get a Committee together, which they have done very efficiently, and they asked me to join. I find it works very well every time. There is no doubt that the French are very"protectionist" but might the UK not find it advantageous to have the same attitude to business? (I think particularly of the car industry).

So get yourself to the Maire Anthony - offer what you can and hopefully next year your pizzas will be on the menu at the VG. And we all know they will outsell everything else - the kids here love them too!! Good luck.

Sounds like a good programme there Norman, I like your thinking. I've always been considered a PITA usually by my employers and some administrative depts. so if you've got room in your organisation perhaps you could find a space for me.... :)))

Hey Kwashie, maybe we should open up our own Immigration programme? Now what qualifications do you suggest?

for me;

1) All members of the unofficial PITA Mob (Pain In The A***) aka The Awkward Quad.

2) All those determined NOT to be dictated to by the PC brigade.

3) Those with opinions NOT provided by the English Newspapers (Sun, Mail, etc)

4) Ditto with those opinions provided by Fox News and/or Murdoch in any form.

5) Anyone with an IQ less than 50 (sorry UKIP supporters)

Any further suggestions?

Out of interest where DOES your name originate anyway?

It's a good place... my childhood nickname was Tosh because i couldn't say Kwashie as a toddler.... so Toshville now has 2 official inhabitants. Who will run for Mairie? :)

Mike -

in response to my 'load of tosh' as you put it, I was in my feeble-minded way suggesting that getting into squabble like this might not, indeed probably would not be such good idea for his peace of mind.

Some people don't relish an altercation with the Maire where they live or work, and are possibly not so combative as you are. Did you use the same expression when talking to your Maire when having the problem?

Also in my 'load of tosh' I also made what I felt were hopefully positive suggestions as alternatives.

However I bow to your greater wisdom delivered from on high.

I now return to Toshville duly chastised and chastened.

Les droigts des fermieres is a whole different kettle of fish Mike, the farmers union well outranks any power that the Mayor might have and by standing your ground you've actually gained the respect of the Mayor albeit grudgingly probably. Food licences are the domaine of the Mairie and they have got Anthony over a barrel when it comes to the Brocantes because it's not "Official Business" as such. Events such as the Christmas markets which officially promoted by the Mairie is the place to do your Pizzas providing you you haven't made an enemy of the Mayor but there will usually be other venders of food and so long as you have all your licences there's no reason why you can't trade. :)

Me thinks that the crêpes man is worried that more people will want to buy your Pizzas than his crêpes and he will lose trade.....

As for not going up against the Marie, load of tosh providing that you know you are right. We had a set to with our Mayor when he refused us permission to build our stables for the llamas, he did eventually say we could build them only if we attach them to the house. We refused and politely reminded him that as were were registered farmers he could not refuse us permission to build the stables and neither could he dictate that we attached an agricultural dwelling to our residence...after being told that, he backed down, apologized and we remain on good terms....we built the stables as we planned.

Rgds, Mike L

Anthony, I fear you have no real recourse other than to get on side with the Mayor somehow. Even IF, and a very BIG 'IF' you managed to get some form of 'legal' ruling, that doesn't mean you would/could win. If you did upset the local Maire then you might just as well pack-up now. I think too few foreigners like us realise just how much local, discretionary power French Maires truly have. It is not the British system by a long, long way.

As others have indicated this is one of those 'facts of life' that one can rail against for ever, but will not change.

You might become the Don Quixote of the Brocantes, but he didn't change anything either. Some fights might be worth it, but I fear this isn't one of them.

Just a small point though, my young next-door neighbour has a very profitable take-away Pizza business, which his sign says is only only from 6.00pm - 8.30pm, Fri-Sunday. Maybe a small fixed location shop would be better for you? I hear that local Maires are only too keen to add to the facilities of their towns.

Another thought is the travelling pizza place, which I see often in villages here in the Correze. Or could you link up at all with these big trucks that sell everything from the car parks? Seems a reasonable association as far as I can see at first glance. That way you would be more mobile, could set up a schedule (even a deal) with the Camions, and work off their agreements?

As ever there are always more ways to skin a cat than getting into fights you can't win.

Michael, just ordered Rose en Marche, looks like a good read, thanks for the tip off! :)

Am I understanding correctly? You move to a different land from whence you came, have a quandary, present a question, get an answer like: 'it is done like so here', then reply, 'I don't work like that'.

Or are you saying 'I won't get work like that'?

When in Rome indeed

I have been doing markets since beg. of 2013, so just 2 yrs. But in non-food, selling in fact, 2nd hand guitars and amps and Rock 'n' Roll T-shirt. It works, but not enough. As I am a former qualified chef, though I would move over to food as that is the only thing that sells at markets. Someone already mentioned, 'if you can't beat them, join them', so I did (try that) [food]. But the French have got a batterie of protectionist measures to stop anyone doing anything that they want to ...