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Surviving my first trade fair

If you follow me on social media anywhere, you may have noticed that I experienced my very first table hire / fair / show / event this week; the 111th Camelford Show at Halwill Barton.

I kid you not, I lost sleep over this event, not just for the morning itself which was a 7am set up starting time, but for several weeks before due to the apprehension and anxiety of not knowing anything about it other than the start time and the fact there would be a table to set up on.

From the moment the letter arrived informing me a table had been secured, I ploughed ahead and purchased everything on the pre-prepared list that I’d written out after I’d sent off the application form.


Card reader

Flyers for the table

Regular sized business cards

A banner for the table

Hours were spent on mental preparation, going over what I’d need, what I wouldn’t need, wondering who would be there, who would I be next to, would it be a cliquey affair or would people be friendly, what the set up would be...... basically all the unknowns since I’d never done anything like this before. Mental preparation for self, so theoretically I wouldn’t be faced with anything entirely unexpected, but also so I wouldn’t look like a newbie first timer that everyone would point and laugh at. “Ooooh look at her – imagine doing / forgetting / thinking that!” Sometimes I really wish my brain would take a day off from thinking up the worst possible case scenario in any given situation. Having a drive somewhere? “Wow.... imagine if a car came round that corner on your side now. You’d be totalled!” Geezo thanks for planting that thought.

Anyway the evening before arrived and I was up until around midnight making sure everything was packed and ready to load into the car in the morning. Trees had been chosen, extra bubblewrap was added, and other needed items were triple and quadruple checked. I managed around 5 hours sleep which was more than previous nights and was out walking the dogs by 6.30am and the rain was chucking it down. This did not bode well for spending a day in a massive field.

When we arrived, larger vehicles were already getting stuck in the mud and needing some tractor assistance but we managed to slip and wheelspin our way down to the traders tents, unpacked and set everything up. It didn’t take too long and I was encouraged by my neighbours inside the marquee who were friendly.... well as friendly as is necessary at that time in the morning. It had been proper chucking it down outside as soon as we arrived so the table had to be moved out the way of the persistent drips and subsequent puddles forming inside the marquee.

I’d forgotten to bring a coat as I was too hot in the morning rushing about getting things ready so it didn’t take long to start feeling cold and a bit miserable. The rain was making a right mess of the ground and big puddles formed everywhere inside and out. There was a real sense of camaraderie though with the other traders; we were all in the same boat, and if it had rained much more we’d have needed one! Thankfully the sun came out later on and a cheer erupted inside when it did.

Despite the terrible weather there was a surprising amount of people turning up throughout the day as an hourly bus had been put on to bring people to and from the show. A few people stopped to chat and ask questions, or say something complimentary which was incredibly touching, and as I was sitting beading anyway, some folk got a behind the scenes peek at how I put everything together. A couple of sales were made in the afternoon, one right after the other and before I knew it, it was time to pack up.

I was ever so grateful for the friendliness of the adjacent traders, who I had the pleasure of chatting with during the lulls in visitors. I have so much respect for anyone who does this on a regular basis. I wouldn’t say it put me off completely because overall I did enjoy the experience, but obviously when your success is largely dependent on the weather that day, I think I’d get disheartened really quickly if I’d done a few of these shows in a row and the weather was crappy for each of them . But on the flipside, when the weather is good, so are sales (so I’ve been told). I made some newbie mistakes (I blame lack of sleep) such as forgetting to add branding to packaging on the sales I had, and not being great with the whole salesperson banter; the former I won’t forget again and the latter I can practise.

So that was my first experience of having a trade stand. I survived and not only that, I enjoyed it and I’ve not dismissed the idea of doing it again next year. I’d also like to say, without my partner, I wouldn’t have even made it there. His support throughout has been incredible and his calm is always the perfect antidote to my continual panic over everything. He knows how much I appreciate him but thought I’d give him a wee mention anyway for being such a star and putting up with my shenanigans. Big love!

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