So, three months of hard work making stock and photographing and pricing it, designing and planning a new stand, sending out invitations, setting up a business Facebook page and web site and writing press releases and much worry and anticipation and a lot of help from some very good friends and family brought me to my destination, the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate for three days.
A most wonderful arena of British Crafts, with over 500 different stands each one different from the next, beautiful, interesting and quality products all designed and made by craftspeople here in Britain. How buyers can choose products at such an event is a real skill.
We all arrive in cars, vans and camper-vans stuffed to bursting point with all our shops and fancy clothes crammed into boxes. There is a massive flurry of activity as we all spend hours ferrying our goods and building our stage-sets arranging and rearranging with much care for this three day event. Not really talking to anyone except a few hello’s to old friends.
Sunday arrives and we are mostly all early and ready for action. None of us recognisable from the Saturday as we are all dressed to impress. Standing on guard at our stands awaiting for our first customers to filter along our aisle so that we can invite them to look and be impressed by our wares.
It can be a very long day standing, so a stool is an essential piece of kit. My husband bought me one I could perch on, except it was at his height and I had to climb it to get on, that was after I managed to move him off it. Luckily I never disgraced myself and fell off. During quiet times I also enjoyed making new friends with my neighbours, and at this event, just chatting to people who you see featured in magazines and hold in high esteem and finding that they are just the same as you – working hard to try to make a living!!! Oh yes and you also find out that the previous years were always better than the current one.
So how did I get on? Well not as well as I expected to do. I had no experience of this fair to base my expectations on. I did hand out a lot of info and hope that these will generate some business. I took seven orders which range from a current customer in Orkney to new customers in Norfolk and Margate so good coverage of Britain I think. Just hope they all follow through.
I have booked up for next year and I need to sit down and work out what lessons I have learned. I do think at such a big fair if you don’t talk to people as they walk past, it might be unlikely they will walk past again, so having two of you on the stand was a bonus especially as I was either quiet at some points or with 2-3 interested people all at once.
Tuesday was a long day but having a husband to go out sharp and get a good parking spot nice and early, was a bonus, especially as 500 others are all taking down at the same time. Acquiring a few coveted goods is another bonus before we all battle to get everything back into our cars, vans etc and it never quite fits the same way. A few bashes and crashes were heard but lucky for me it wasn’t my things on this occasion.
It finishes with a long drive home and a day spent unpacking the car and spending time with my fabulous girls and working out when I am going to make everyone’s order. Lucky for me I have a week’s holiday with my family to unwind before I get started and plan my next big event.