Great Expectations

So, last weekend Helen and I attended the British Craft Trade Fair 2018 in Harrogate. We’d been to the hall before, but as punters for a different event, and only on a day visit. This time we had booked ourselves 3 nights in a AirBnB.

In difference to the title of this post, I did not actually have great expectations. Although the even organisers were keen to show pictures of busy walkways, and talk about the thousands of visitors they have every year, the reality was starkly different. But let’s begin at the beginning.

We did a trial run of loading the car, only to realize we couldn’t fit everything into the Merc. In the end we decided to go with 2 cars, it’s still cheaper than renting a van for the weekend. It did mean, though, that maximum speed was about 65 mph (downhill and with the wind in the back), just to make sure my wife’s 19 year old Astra wouldn’t pack up in the middle of nowhere.

Travel went without surprises, and I do have to say the entire event was very well organised. We got a spot right next to the loading bay, and the stall was set up and fitted with goods in about 2 hours.

Sunday was always going to be the quietest day of the three, and so it was. Come Monday and it got a little busier, but by 15:00 I could see clear through to the wall on the other side of the hall on most aisles. There were 460 stalls in the hall and probably only around 250 punters. And Tuesday was very much the same.

In the end we received 2 tentative orders, covering about 50% of our costs, plus about a dozen contacts that may yield one more order. So, all in all, I do feel quite substantially underwhelmed. The only consolation was that it wasn’t just us. I spoke to several people who’d done this event many times in the past and they all agreed that 2018 was the worst of the lot.

In hindsight we could probably have managed with the Merc. We had too many things that didn’t get used, and we had too much merchandise on the stall. We brought 6 LED picture lights, and only used 4 (and probably only needed 3), we didn’t use either of the batteries or the inverter as somebody left us with a socket on the stall. The little desk was of some use, but this could be done in a different way. I am pretty sure that we can come up with a way of doing this with one car, if we actually do it again at all.

Well, at least we tried. SO, on to the next event : The Curborough Festival of Artists. Now here clearly the expectation is not on any sales, it’s simply a marketing exercise. On the other hand, the price tag is very different: whereas Harrogate cost us around £1000, Curborough will be less than 200 (and only 25 if we don’t need to hire a van). Just one lucky sale could mean I am actually making some money.

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