It’s nearly time for the Spring Fair, the UK’S No.1 trade show for the gift, greeting card and home suppliers plus buyers. On the 5-9 FEBRUARY 2017 some 60,000 visitors will be rushing through the doors of Birmingham NEC to join the party (it is a celebration after all, of all things wonderful in the giftware world). For the Spring Fair first timers the event can be a little overwhelming, the sheer scale and number of rooms can send even the most experience of buyers into a flap. Therefore here’s our top five survival tips to ensure you make the most of your time at the show and leave with a big smile on your face, plus lots of new products for your shop.
Have A Cunning Plan
Make sure to have a good read of your little black/yellow book prior to the show and mark the stands you like to visit. Group the stands you want to visit hall by hall to save time and stop you chasing your tail. Sensible footwear is a must – sorry ladies (and fellas), no high heels. Take a strong easy to carry bag and maybe a packed lunch plus water (coffee and stronger drinks are available at the show, though Gift Shop Hub would advise against any drunken purchasing). Get there early so you’re not stressed out and have that action plan done before.
Picture from Blueprint Collections
Reconnect With Your Existing Suppliers
Some gift ranges are impossible to judge online so the Spring Fair is an ideal opportunity to smell those candles and feel the quality of the cards (Gift Shop Hub loves a nice think board with some lovely flitter, which all sounds very ‘Carry On’). We asked retailer Wishes of Cudworth what they’re looking for at the show: “As well as finding new suppliers we like to link up with our current ones too. We’ve Best Kept Secrets, Bath, Bubble & Beyond, and lots of card suppliers on our hit list. The Heart & Home gift sets did really well for us at Christmas, so we’ll be sure to visit them again and see what they’ve added to their ranges. Joe Davis are another must see; We really like their little and often philosophy and they have lots of choice which makes it easy to make up an order with a good mix of different products. As an independent shop we like to test the water sometimes with a smaller order to see how our customers respond”
See A Presentation
The Spring Fair has some amazing keynote speakers this year, who will be sharing their vast knowledge, with plenty of tips and advice.
First up is Mary Portas on Monday 6 February 2017, 13:10 at the Fashion & Accessories Catwalk. Retail expert Mary Portas, widely acknowledged as a leading authority on the sector, has advised government, transformed Harvey Nichols, and has produced a host of retail and business-themed TV programmes. A determined, passionate advocate of British retail, Mary is at the forefront of making the nation better consumers and the country’s shops better businesses.
Next up is Baroness Karren Brady on Tuesday 7 February 2017, 13:55 at The Fashion and Accessories Theatre. Karren is considered the UK’s most high-profile business woman, and rated among the 50 most inspirational people in the world. This, together with her natural wit, honest and down-to-earth approach, witnessed by millions through her starring role on The Apprentice, has made her one of the world’s most sought-after speakers.
Another must see is Jeremy Corner, the co-owner of award winning, greeting card publisher, Blue Eyed Sun, and wedding stationery specialists, Ivy Ellen. A blogger, industry thought leader and expert in digital marketing, he writes for Progressive Greetings and Housewares magazines exploring retail, social media and business development. Jeremy will be sharing his experiences growing Blue Eyed Sun and Ivy Ellen online both in the UK and abroad. His 10 Things to do in your business before using social media (Tuesday 7th February 12:00 – 13:30 Ecommerce Theatre) and Social Media Health Checks for Retailers (Tuesday 7th February 13:00 – 16:00, Ecommerce Theatre) are set to be show highlights. See more at: www.blueeyedsun.co.uk
Finally on Sunday 5 Feb 2017 at 11:15am in the Ecommerce Theatre some bloke called Chris Fox from Gift Shop Hub will be taking about how to harness the power of the Internet while still maintaining the balance between running your physical and virtual shops. So please pop along as I discuss ‘The Balancing Act: How to promote your business online while running your shop’. It will be good clean fun.
Find Something New
Whilst your time at the show may be limited; most gift shop owners can visit for just the single day as they need to find cover, once you’ve crossed off all the stands on your hit list, why not take a wander and look for something new. Again we’ve spoke to Gift Shop Hub partner Wishes of Cudworth about what new ranges they’re looking for: “We’ve had a few requests for gifts for men which is can be a little tricky. The aim as always is to find the right product at the right price; to find unusual and unique lines that offer good value too. Some new ladies accessories would be nice, especially the quick selling, impulse, pick up buys. Packaging is really important, the better presented, the higher perceived value. Home-ware has become more popular in our shop but it needs to be still keenly priced: our electric wax melt burners have sold well as the pricing is right”
This is a simple one but have a good time and enjoy yourself. Most of all smile, chat and be nice to all the wonderful people on the stands, even if you don’t want to buy anything. The people at the stands put their heart into the products they’re selling and often can be the company owner or designer. A smile and hello goes along way, plus try to be constructive and kind if the products don’t fit into your own shop’s style.