History of MIL 2014-2015
In 2014, MIL started the year, as they have done for the past several decades, getting ready for their exclusive shops at the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF). MIL had done the Texas Renaissance Festival exclusively because when they where responsible for all of the TRF logoed Special Products, they had an unwritten agreement with TRF that for exclusive rights to sell logoed items, they would exclusively only design, purchase, and sell items at TRF. This was the honorable thing to do in the minds of MIL.
After MIL sold the logoed Special Products contract a few years before, and the iconic Dragonslayer building that MIL designed and built, MIL sold the Garlands and Swords & Shields business. Over the years, the contract with TRF had been separate from the logoed Special Products contract. Up until that point, TRF never considered the Garlands and Swords & Shields a part of the logoed Special Products business. MIL had developed the business and was considering continuing it until TRF decided that it was a Special Products business and wanted MIL to sell it to the new owners of the Special Products business, which MIL did comply and sell the business to the holders of the logoed Special Products contract.
MIL’s proprietors had wanted to slow down after 35 plus years at TRF and it made sense to sell off some of the businesses. They wanted to focus only on the food and beverage shops and Noble House, which sold unique hand carved items from around the world. This was what they wanted to do in retirement. They also wanted to be like all the other small vendors out at TRF, selling their wares and being a small part of the festival, instead of being the largest vendor at one time and dealing with the politics that brought with it.
Prior to 2014, the owner of TRF started to create an arboretum, called Stargate Manor Arboretum, on his personal land, which borders the personal land of MIL’s proprietors. The owner and TRF asked Paul and Honey for a strip of their land to expand the proposed parking area for the arboretum. This would have put a parking lot next to Paul and Honey’s secluded house, which they had purchased the land around them for privacy and noise. Paul and Honey suggested that TRF give swap land and give them the same acreage and modest houses on land that wasn’t being used. There was a verbal suggestion about how would Paul and Honey like it if TRF did not renew their license and contract with TRF. Paul and Honey reiterated they wanted privacy on their personal land and would not sell their personal land based on unrelated business matters at TRF.
During the 2014 festival, TRF staff and MIL staff had fairly pleasant interactions. Of course when asked, MIL would provide their opinions, rather it was what TRF staff wanted to hear or not, is debatable. MIL had received two letters during the season, one in October 2014 for their Honey Lodge shop and one in November 2014 for their Rose-N-Thistle shop, both from the general manager and vendor coordinator of TRF, commending MIL on doing a great job.
On December 1st, TRF had a discussion with Paul and informed him that the license and contract to continue to have shops at TRF was not being renewed. The reasons are vague and when asked to clarify, it was stated that TRF would not comment on advice of legal counsel. The only reason discussed was “an increasing divergence between TRF Management and Owner with licensee”. Again, when asked what it means, the statement to the effect of “I can’t tell you on advice of counsel” is used.
So MIL was told, during the festival, that their shops were “carrying on the festival spirit in an extraordinary manner” but then told they were “increasing divergence”. Which is it?
TRF delivered a letter to MIL stating that they had 60 days to sell their shops. One wonders, how the same two people who had just recently given two letters for having the spirit of the festival can turn around and then state that they want MIL out because of not having the festival direction and difference of opinions.
The letter uses a provision of the contract that allows TRF to not renew the license for any reason that TRF sees fit. When asked for details, or examples, none are presented. You start to wonder why.
We wonder, could it have been the disagreement about handicap parking? MIL had a row of parking for decades because the main shops they had did not have any type of parking behind them and Noble House had a dormitory above it and the parking was right behind Noble House. TRF wanted space to put handicap parking for their entertainment building in the MIL parking area. This would have been three rows away form the entertainment building. In addition, MIL had several people that are handicapped and would have been able to take those spaces anyway, so what was the point? Wouldn’t it be logical to make the spaces close to the entertainment building handicapped since it was already paved and would only require paint? Is this the type of opinion that TRF was saying they wanted MIL out for?
Could it have been that MIL’s opinion for the Masquerade was that it would not be successful in the incarnation that it was being presented? Unfortunately, MIL was right that it would not be successful and is now why it has changed to TRF After Dark.
Could it have been the land deal that Paul and Honey were verbally threatened to sell or have their license for TRF not renewed? One wonders, because disagreements about the parking spaces and Masquerade seem to be petty and the only logical thing MIL can come up with is to go back to the verbal threat of loosing their license if Paul and Honey did not sell their personal land to the owner of TRF for his arboretum. We can only guess because the owner and TRF will not give any details and we are left to guess.
Though MIL always stated their minds and opinions, even when not the same as TRF, isn’t that what makes us people? With TRF being the only place MIL was doing business, don’t you think that MIL was interested in making sure that the patrons of TRF had the best experience and that TRF was doing the right things, otherwise TRF, MIL and all the other vendors would suffer.
We are all scratching our heads on why TRF kicked MIL out for the reasons stated.
We share this story because we care about the vendors, and our many friends, that have made TRF what it is today, and know now, if it can happen to us, it can happen to any of you, for any reason, on any day, and there is nothing you can do about it.
In our opinion, we offer this advice to anyone interested in having a business at TRF: with TRF primarily giving only one year contracts, having a stipulation that allows them to terminate the contract for practically any reason, and giving you only 60 days to sale your building in writing, or risk losing all investment in it, do not invest your personal money unless you will completely make it back with a profit in a single year. If you build a building, or buy one, make sure you can get your money out fast. If possible, negotiate a longer term or have the language changed to protect yourself. And above all else, our opinion is to get legal advice prior to dealing with TRF.
Love to all of our friends and the many patrons who cherished all that we accomplished.
Copyright 2018 by MIL. This site is based on the personal experiences of MIL and it’s contractors.