Working the Spring Fair 2017

I’ve been working the Spring Fair 2017 this week.

20 Halls is a LOT of inspiration space at the Spring Fair at the NEC.  You definately need to go with a plan.

I’d divided my time nicely between pre-arranged meetings, inspiration and education (which appeared to include lunch).

SplashMaps' award winning fabric maps on show

Pretty easy to be spotted when arranging meetings in busy cafes at the Spring Fair.

Pretty easy to meet folk

The overall feel of the Fair was somewhat “empty”.  Perhaps it was a Tuesday effect (personally I get over the “beginning of the week syndrome shortly after 6am on Monday), perhaps it’s a marker for an uncertain economy, perhaps something’s gone wrong with the marketing of the event.

Either way, it worked out well for me as I had no trouble meeting the people I wanted to meet even when unscheduled.  I was also easy to spot in my map waistcoat and tie from Allana Marsh, so arranging to meet in even the busiest of cafes turned out to be easy.

We’d had a stand at Autumn Fair.  That nicely filled my contacts book and today I was finding the ones that had yet to buy.

RAF Lakenheath

There was so much enthusiasm from both sides here.  My selling an idea I stole from the RAF back to an RAF base!  For the team at RAF Lakenheath, the maps are a great memento of a place where most (American Air Forces) residents are very transient, yet the area is surrounded by beautiful countryside.  We’ll be making maps soon of the area I knew as a boy watching Concorde and the Blackbird at the Mildenhall Air Show.

Lake District Tourist Attractions

SplashMap in use on Ulswater

SplashMap in use on Ulswater

Unusual one this!  Someone recommended I speak with Richard so he got onto my list.  Neither Richard nor I know the guy who made the recommendation, but we are certainly grateful to him now that the Ulswater Lake and the Ravensglass rail line will get their dedicated Splashmaps

Map Marketing

We’ve known these chaps for a short while now, but business between seems set to take off soon.  Great to meet more of Chris’ London based Marketing and Design team in Birmingham.

Modern Souvenir

Quick idea with Modern Souvenir

Quick idea with Modern Souvenir

We met at the Autumn Fair, but this time it looks like we’ve something we can work together upon…


Hall 3 was more design orientated gifts and packaging.  Most places of interest to me were in the contempory gift section.  However in Hall 3 I learnt a lot about packaging from Envelopes Limited and re-discovered Little Boat gifts too. in a land thus far untouched by modern mapping (i.e they don’t sell SplashMaps yet!). Super to meet My World design’s Andrea Murphy who has the rights to David Bowie’s back catalogue of images and has great designs based on northern icons.

Education and Lunch

The renamed UK Trade and Investment team (now TID) were there reminding us that it’s good to export.  I couldn’t agree more and with 2017 showing some huge potential for us overseas I met with Brian Mountford.  Great advice on the Inco terms for the various relations we have and some guidance on securing our cash-flow as things start to move faster.

Sold on Spring/ Autumn Fair?

Meeting new retailers at Autumn Fair

Meeting new retailers at Autumn Fair

When last at Autumn Fair we were greeted by Emanuel on build up day.  Enormously helpful like all saff there (such a change from the London Excel), it was good to see him again.  These shows are a big outlay and the timing (first weekend of September) is a family life killer.  So there is still a big balance to do before committing further.  But I have to say that the Brummy welcome, which carries all the way through to their considerate shuttle bus service, counts for a lot from someone like me who values proper engagement and shared experience.


Spring Fair?  So glad I went, but also glad I didn’t have a stand.  I am sure we’d have had some great opportunities, but no doubt the gaps in between those times would have been hard to handle as the show ran for 5 whole days!


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