As I’m writing this, it’s exactly 18 days till my next Vintage Show! On the 21st October I’ll be at the Vintage Home Show in Manchester at the glorious Victoria Baths.
Two or three times a year, I trade at the baths with a ton of other vintage enthusiasts, selling all manner of furniture and home wares. If you love vintage, crockery, lamps and lighting, rugs, fabrics, glassware, vases, pots, sideboards, coffee tables, dining tables, posters, cushions, and of course chairs, come down. (The building itself is iconic, and worth a look around by the way. It’s magical!)
It’s one of the few chances I get to meet the public face to face and get real-time feedback on what people are looking for, so it’s really important for me to be there.
The seven P’s… (proper planning and practice…)
The build up can be quite intensive and it takes a lot of preparation. Luckily, the marketing and publicity is taken care if by the very experienced Keeley from Discover Vintage who runs the shows, but that doesn’t let me off the marketing hook completely. I still need to do my bit.
I also need to make decisions about what chairs to take, and try not to sell too many in the intervening period! There’s limited space available so I need to get it right. I try and take a mixture of big and small chairs in different colours and finishes. I need to also decide on prices, label everything up, double check for quality and give all the fabric a brush down and clean all the wooden bits and so on. I also pack a bag of kit to take. This includes fabric samples for ideas, measuring tape, spare labels, scissors, card reader…you get the idea.
Just like when I pack for a holiday, I need to start a few days before to make sure I don’t forget anything.
It’s a long day…
Following a night of fitful sleep and the usual anxiety based dreams, I’m up early. I have about 2 hours before to set up. I usually arrange and rearrange the chairs, put my business cards out, scatter a few samples around and then wait…
There’s an early bird entrance to the show, which is usually traders, but not always. It’s a good time to watch and see what people are drawn to, and probably have a rearrange.
I’ve done the Manchester show 3 times (this will be my 4th) and the Leeds show once. I’ve been at a couple if other local events too, but nothing brings the crowds if enthusiasts like this show. It gets very busy, and despite selling chairs, I rarely get the chance to sit down!
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit
It’s all about the chat on the day. I’m talking to customers, potential customers, people who want to commission me and other traders. It’s practically non stop and yes, I have a sore throat at the end. But, as I said, it’s my main opportunity at the moment to meet so many people and hear what they have to say. As I don’t have a bricks and mortar shop, interaction like this is precious. I get asked loads of questions, about chairs and fabrics. I get asked about upholstery techniques, furniture repairs, vintage style. I’ve had conversations about a grandmother’s favourite chair, future heirlooms, favourite colours, least favourite colours and patterns versus plains.
It’s great, and I learn so much.
Wrap it up
I offer local deliveries so I do these first before heading home with anything that’s not sold. Once home, it’s feet up once the van is unloaded. I’m usually ravenous too, and tired but happy. I try and make time to reflect and learn from the day as well as attending to any admin straight away. I love this show and came a few times as a customer before I even thought about trading here.
I’d urge to you to pop down if you can, and come and talk to me. I’m usually in the Turkish Baths, on the ground floor.
See you there.