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Columnist WiseWords


Historic anniversaries loom large in the giftware calendar but are we making the most of them? David Metcalfe has some original suggestions for this year. Perhaps suppliers could enlist his help in product development?


This year, 2015, is a big year for national anniversaries. There is the 70th anniversary of victory in Europe in 1945. There is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (we won both of these, incidentally, just to prove that I was paying attention during history at school). It is 800 years since bad old King


John granted the barons the Magna Carta, on which our, and many other democracies, including the American one, are based. Actually, I can’t hear of Magna Carta without remembering Tony Hancock’s great speech in an old episode of Hancock’s Half Hour – Twelve Angry Men – when, as foreman of the jury, he declaimed “Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?” I digress. Anyway, I searched the


Spring Fair for some souvenirs of these momentous events in our nation’s history, but I could not find any. Perhaps I should have looked for them at the Autumn Fair last year, and they


were all sold out to heritage retail outlets. I was interested to see what the creative minds of our giftware industry had put together to mark these events. I was expecting to find a model of HMS Victory playing the theme music from The Archers when you open a gun port. Or a ‘write your own Magna Carta’ set. The party industry could develop fancy dress offers, and Evil King John parties could really catch on with huge demand for costumes of barons and wenches. Perhaps a model of the Duke of Wellington which marches to the tune of ‘Waterloo’ by ABBA, and takes three AAA batteries in the base. Nearer home, and back to what


passes for reality in my world, we have just had the 40th Spring Fair and I am proud to say that I was there, at the very first one, as an exhibitor in Hall 1. It was the first exhibition in the then brand new NEC, so there were teething troubles – the restaurants were closed between 12 noon and 1pm for the staff to have their lunch, for example, but otherwise it all went off pretty well. And it all went off pretty well this time


from David Metcalfe


as well. The pattern of buying has changed, with exhibitors reporting changing buyer flows day to day, but most people I spoke to were happy. The weather was kind and the general mood was buoyant. I thought that Hall 9 with tabletop, kitchen and housewares looked particularly good, as did Home in Hall 1. The giftware halls were constantly busy. This is work in progress, of course, and the exciting, new, full re-edit of Spring Fair will soon be unveiled to a waiting public. I have been privileged to have peeked under the dust covers, and can confirm that it looks very good. Finally, still on the subject of


landmarks in our industry, this year will see the 25th Autumn Fair. I was present at the first one of those too, and it has given me great personal satisfaction to see how it has developed to the success it is now. I am sure there will be some appropriate celebration, even if it is just me and the editor with a couple of bottles of supermarket gin. As usual.


David Metcalfe


14 Giftware Review & Home Interiors March / April 2015


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