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Columnist WiseWords


Stop me if you have heard this one. A man walks into a pub and sees another man standing by the fire with a dog at his feet. Having bought his pint he wanders over to the man and says, by way of conversation: “Is your dog friendly?” “Yes” replies the man. So the first


Making assumptions in business can be a dangerous thing, according to David Metcalfe. Unless of course, you make the right assumption.


man bends down to stroke the dog, at which the animal attempts to bite his hand off. “Hey”, says the first man, “I thought you said your dog was friendly.” “My dog is very friendly” he replies,


“but that’s not my dog.” The point is that it is dangerous to


assume. Assumption is the home of ‘Captain Cock-up’ and yet we do it all the time. Retailers, particularly the larger departmental stores, spend a lot of time and energy planning the layout of their displays on the assumption that we are all creatures of habit and will follow the invisible path laid out for us. I assume they know what they are doing, but there I go again. This type of assumption even


extends to my specialist subject, trade


fairs. Exhibitors, by and large, like to keep their stands in the same location year on year on the assumption that buyers are creatures of habit. This usually flies in the face of the objective of being at the trade show in the first place – to meet new customers. You can spot the contradiction - if they believe buyers are creatures of habit then to meet new buyers they should change the stand location. However if this is pointed out they invariably respond: “But my customers know where to find me.” That is where assumption gets you - exactly where you were. I read somewhere that in about


1897, the Americans came close to closing the New York Patents Office as they assumed that everything that could be invented had been invented, and that therefore there was no further need for it. This was nonsense, of course, as new ideas and products are being developed and introduced all the time. There was no better example of this than at the recent Excellence in Housewares awards. You would have thought that


from David Metcalfe


every possible aid to housekeeping had been introduced long ago, but the current fascination of the British public in baking has spawned a whole new raft of baking related bits of kit in a bewildering variety of colours. But then our own giftware industry is noted for it’s creative energy, as a perusal of the pages of any issue of Giftware Review will attest. The Autumn Fair had a real buzz again this year, with more new introductions than I can remember. And so we look forward to the


Christmas trading period. I have a feeling that it will be a good one this year, pretty much across the board, and it has been a long time since any of us have been able to say that with any degree of confidence. So I wish you a happy and profitable season, which I hope means I can look forward to seeing you at Spring Fair. If you have a reasonably good festive period then that, at least, should be a safe assumption!


David Metcalfe


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14 Giftware & Home Review November / December 2014


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