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As I write this, Autumn Fair is now just a fading memory. It always happens, of course, but this time it really seems to have flown past. I had intended to keep a diary of what occurred, and what I got up to, but even that good intention fell by the wayside. I am ashamed to say that this

Dealing bravely with the after effects of the Rugby World Cup, David Metcalfe celebrates the winning success of the gift industry instead.

Autumn I didn’t make it to any of the London fairs for the first time – not something I am proud of, but I just seemed to run out of time. In my defence, I have to say that I did work very hard at Autumn Fair and covered a lot of ground, most of it filled with exhibition stands, naturally. The stands this year were of a

particularly high standard of presentation, and seemed to be very busy. It is invidious to pick out any one stand as being outstanding, but I always think that the Lesser and Pavey stand works extremely well, as it is designed to display product, rather than representing a stand designer’s ego, and product is really all in which the buyer is interested.

If you trace the history of trade

exhibitions in this country, you will find that all trade shows in the gift industry originated in what were called ‘stockrooms’ which were held in cities around the UK. These were organised by companies’ representatives and agents who, in the days before popular car ownership and motorways, had to carry samples in suitcases and travel by train. They co-ordinated the dates of their

visits to any given city, all booked into the same hotel, and displayed their products in their hotel rooms. Buyers were then invited to visit these organised ‘stockrooms’, and see a number of companies’ products at once, rather than seeing a succession of representatives in their shops. The agents did not have to carry their sample cases from one shop to another, unpacking and re-packing them each time, so it truly was a win- win situation. The other advantage from the

agent’s point of view was that competitors did not get to see their new products, and it was an un-written

from David Metcalfe

matter of honour that one agent would never enter another’s stockroom. It was this incipient paranoia that meant that when trade exhibitions, as we now know them, were established in open exhibition halls, many exhibitors simply re-created their stockroom by building a ‘hotel room’ with four walls and one entrance, through which only invited buyers were allowed to enter. It took a long time for this mentality to disappear completely. I also thought the Giftware

Association did very well at Autumn Fair with a small business-like stand opposite the Gift of the Year display, which gets visited by so many buyers during the course of the year. For a supplier to the giftware trade, membership of The Giftware Association is astonishingly good value, and if they exhibit at the Spring or Autumn Fairs it is effectively free. Exhibitors at both are in profit! I have managed to write this piece

without mentioning the Rugby World Cup. I know you wouldn’t want to intrude on private grief.

David Metcalfe

14 Giftware Review & Home Interiors November / December 2015

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