Spring Fair is one of the largest trade fairs of the year for retailers, with a very wide range of exhibitors. Armed with my entry pass, my list of suppliers I wanted to see, notepad and business cards, I set off filled with anticipation to the NEC just outside Birmingham.
Upon arrival, I picked up the event route planner and Catalogue to help me through the day and I headed straight for Hall 5, this covers Children’s Gifts along with Toys and Gadgets. It is understandable that this would be my focal point for products that are key to my own business, ‘The Forgotten Toy Shop.’ While my focus may well have been around hall 5 the NEC Spring Fair is a massive show and all the halls seemed to be bustling.
I love to attend the show as it offers up an opportunity to really connect with the agents and reps that I usually only get to see sporadically throughout the year, I take the time to meet with my sales contacts for almost all of the companies I deal with, many people seem to shy away from this connection but as a small independent I find their insights to be very valuable. It can be lonely out there sometimes as a one-woman band and they provide some much needed support.
I walked the halls slowly, trying to get a real feel for the exhibitors and take in as much information as I could about products, both existing lines I stock but also new ones. Where else can you get so ‘hands on’ with potential profitable products so easily?
I hear other retailers moaning (not often, we retailers are a happy go luck and cheerful bunch) about having to walk round such a large show, and I do feel their pain, my knees are not as forgiving as they used to be, however the benefit to my company far out-weighs any minor discomfort.
On my travels around Spring Fair I managed to find some real gems, companies that I am looking forward to dealing with and helping me to grow in 2020. Floss & Rock, Selfie Craft Co. and Apple to Pears are three that really stick out in my mind.
With all the doom and gloom of Brexit (there, I said it) and the troubles facing the High Street, it is almost invaluable to be able to take some time to interact with other retailers, along with existing/potential suppliers in a real melting pot environment.
What does the future hold for the Toy and Gift industry? I don’t know, but I do know that the best way to face that future is working together to find great products for our customers.
Now home, it's time to rest and go through the mountain of catalogues I collected on my days musings.