Our First Trade Fair
So after taking some advice from family friend Annie who has worked in the retail industry for many years, we decided to take the plunge and head to the Home & Gift Buyers Fair in Harrogate.
Overwhelmed doesn’t quite capture the fear and general feeling of “S***! I think we might be out of our depth here” that overcame us both as we walked into this mega event.
It truly is a huge and stylish affair; with traders selling not just interior accessories, but; furniture, jewellery, cards, candles, clothes, kitchenware, Christmas decorations, stationery and artwork, the list goes on. It really is amazing!
We literally didn’t know where to start, so we headed towards the smell of freshly brewed coffee, took a deep breath and armed with our name badges, show guides and a warm cup of caffeine in hand we started browsing the stands.
We saw so much stuff we liked, but how do we know how much it is? How many do we need to order? What do we say if we like something? What if they don’t take us seriously because were a new business? What if we can’t afford the minimum order? Self-doubt set in pretty quickly. We decided we needed a friendly face and some advice… “Let’s find Annie” we said.
Pah! If only it was that easy. The place really is huge and despite having our show guides and a map we managed to wonder around aimlessly for a good 40 minutes before we finally located her. Annie, our guardian angel holding fort at her fabulous stand where she was showcasing her COMPTON AND CLARKE brand… Relief!
After bombarding her with questions we established that the little tickets told you the price depending on how many you bought, all new businesses would be invoiced pro-forma and minimum orders vary from business to business.
So we got brave and started to ask more questions and enquire about products. With us being a small cash start-up business many of the bigger brands had minimum order requirements that we couldn’t meet. However, despite some disappointments we met good and helpful people overall and our confidence grew over the course of the day. Although we did have some less than glamourous moments where one of us almost took out an entire shelf of breakables with our handbag followed by a near miss tripping over a step into the Yankee Candle area… Queue hysterical/nervous laughter and a quick exit to the next tent!
We had a pit stop lunch and a glass of bubbly to celebrate our new found business bravery and decided we would make a purchase at (as it turns out) the first stand we went to. So we headed over and selected a few products. It was a very stressful 10 minutes, we felt quite pressured by the man who was helping us with our order ‘Malcolm’ and we started to panic. In our panic we left Malcolm and we did a runner.
I know, I know not a very sensible way to approach it and not very mature of us. It was our old friend ‘self-doubt’ who had been following us around all day who made us do it. Please don’t judge us for this silly and unprofessional act. This is not our usual style, but when it came to parting with that first bit of investment the responsibility and decision-making at that moment had felt just too great. We couldn’t do it! What if the stuff we choose didn’t sell? What if people don’t like it? What if it arrives and the quality isn’t good? Mr Self-Doubt was at it again….
So that was that. We left the fair empty handed feeling tired, excited, giddy, a little bit silly and disappointed all at the same time.
It was a long journey home, but the perfect opportunity to talk through the day. We decided we had probably missed an opportunity with old Malcolm, but that was that. We were half way down the M1 by that point…
Anyway, since then we have got brave enough to invest in some stock. We have a couple of great suppliers were working with and we feel that we have chosen some beautiful products that you will love.
Lesson of the day… “Be Brave!”