Hi guys, I'm back. Back from the joys of Harrogate and the Home and Gift trade fair. What can I say, it was an amazing experience and a huge learning curve (how I hate that term, but it fits this situation so I am afraid it just has to be used) and even better than that I made a couple of new friends.
This is a seriously HUGE event. There were 19 different exhibition halls, ranging from the normal modern exhibition halls themselves, to enormous marquees, hotel foyers and ballrooms. It all seemed to be an endless sprawl around the centre of Harrogate itself.
Did I feel just a tad out of my depth – you betcha! However, having said that, I wasn't in a scary area, no I was in the lower floor Hall E where the new businesses go. Now when I say lower floor I really should clarify, we were in the basement. Actually it turned out to be a bit like a massive rabbit warren a la Watership Down. We had our own community down there. There were people you liked, people you didn't, good coffee, lots to look at and we even managed to sell a few things to those brave enough to dig deep into Harrogate and find us in our burrow.
As far as stands themselves went, in our area of small displays there was a huge range of artistry and effort. Some had just thrown a cloth over a table as if they were at a church bazaar, while others had really made an effort and created the perfect display for their goods. The pic above shows the Sea Holly stand where Fiona showed her amazing hand painted miniature tiles. The stand was beautifully simple and showed off the tiles to perfection. Fiona really knows her stuff and her advice was invaluable to me as a complete novice in this big wide world of the trade fair. She took the time to really help me get my display right (I had it all set out for a retail fair and you want a different approach for a wholesale event – now I know) and we just hit it off as pals right away.
Another beautiful stand was Sandie Blue, totally simple and totally right. Sandie's cards are a delight. They are the prettiest watercolours featuring beach huts, bird houses, flowers and picnics. I just loved the way her display stands reflected the images themselves. Another beautifully simple and effective display. Sandie and I hit it off right away – dare I say something to do with our slightly warped humour and ability to keep going with a joke as long as possible.
Did I get orders, was it worth doing. Yes, yes, yes. Exhausting but well worth it. I am now back home with orders to fill, stock to make and pages and pages of notes to trawl through trying to read my own writing and work out what the hell I was on about.
Ah yes, I have been there, done that and got the proverbial T shirt. I have done my first trade fair and lived to tell the tale.