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Trade Fair Season

trade fair

For anyone involved in retail, you’re bound to visit at least one Trade Fair during the months of January and February.  It’s a good time once the dust has settled after the busy Christmas period to start planning for the following year and obviously a big part of that is to have new and exciting products to offer customers.

I like to have a really good relationship with my suppliers.  I want to know about product safety testing, where an item has come from and the story behind it.  Trade Fairs are a good place to do this – to meet your suppliers and talk about new trends and best sellers.  For me they are a really good resource and you come away feeling totally inspired.

There are a real mixture of Trade Fairs, from the large such as Spring and Autumn Fair held at Birmingham’s NEC or the smaller Top Drawer held at London’s Olympia.

Top Drawer OlympiaI’ve been to Top Drawer a few times now.  I find it small and friendly and like the fact that it gives you the opportunity to find new and emerging designers from the UK and Internationally as I’m always on the look out for something just a little bit different.

This year I thought it would be a really good opportunity for Courtney our Digital Marketing Apprentice to visit Top Drawer with me.  An ideal time for her to meet some of our suppliers, see their range of products and hopefully spot some new and exciting ones that might make their way onto the shelves at the Boutique.

Courtney jumped at the chance and here’s what she thought of her visit:-

I’m just back from my first ever Trade Fair called Top Drawer in London. I was really pleased when Claire asked me to join her but I didn’t really know what to expect.

I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was, or for it to have such a variety of different items. There was such a huge range of different products on show. From big well-known brands to smaller independent traders, all there to do one thing, showcase their products and hopefully get retailers to buy from them!trade fair

We were obviously interested in items that would be relevant to the Boutique.  Even though the Boutique is small we sell clothes, toys, and new baby gifts so there was plenty to see and lots of different sellers that we wanted to visit.  Clothes, toys, cards, games, books and puzzles, are just a handful of the range of products that they had for children and we saw some really exciting items.  There were also lots of other suppliers with products that weren’t relevant to the Boutique such as jewellery and homeware – they were incredibly lovely though and it was very hard not to be distracted by them!

Some of the suppliers offer exclusivity within in a certain area to their retailers. I have never thought about exclusivity before, but Claire explained to me how important it is . She doesn’t think there’s any point in retailers all offering the same items for sale, that’s not giving customers a good shopping experience.  We know the customers that come into the Boutique are looking for something new and different and so checking if there are any other retailers in the area using the same supplier is always one of the first things that Claire checked.  I now understand how important that is.

I thought everything we saw at Top Drawer was so lovely and of a really high quality.  The suppliers were all incredibly friendly and were happy to explain all about their products in a very informative way.

One of the things that Claire wanted to stock after Christmas was some new cards and wrapping paper.  We found a lovely new supplier and Claire placed an order while we were there.  They arrived a couple of days ago and are already on the shelves!

kalli stillman cardskalli stillman cardsOne thing to remember is to wear comfortable shoes as you end up doing lots of walking! I really enjoyed the Fair and I look forward to visiting my next Trade Fair and seeing what other new products appear on the shelves of the Boutique over the coming months!