It has been a while, but trade shows are back with a bang.
Travelling up to beautiful sunny Harrogate you could be forgiven that you were heading on a long weekend away or a staycation, as it has been a while since many of us have traveled outside our own counties or even homes due to lockdowns and restrictions, but the mood is a jubilant one as Harrogate Home and Gift opens its doors to the public as one of the first trade shows of the year to go ahead.
Being one of the first shows to go ahead it has had to adhere to many safety measures such as wider aisles, proving that you are double vaccinated or a proven negative lateral flow test. These processes were in place to make the show as safe as possible and to instill confidence in both the exhibitors and visitors and to help kickstart the home and gift industry as this is a return to business as usual.
The Giftware Association had 77 members at the show which was around 29% of the show, and was a great place for us to visit their stands, say hello and ask how the last 18 months have been. The overwhelming reaction was that everyone was glad to be back out and trading and meeting buyers face to face after such a long time sat behind computer screens on zoom / teams calls, which it was agreed, although handy from having to travel around the country, it is just not the same as speaking to a human who is sat right in front of you. The GA team also helped out on a variety of issues that our members have been facing such as the Kickstarter scheme, the current freight issues hounding the home and giftware market and grants available.
The buyers were also out in force over the course of the show and even the weather didn’t slow them down as the UK recorded record high temperatures which made the air conditioned and roomier tents even more welcoming. The buyers we spoke to were impressed with the products on offer and were glad to be back out and seeing things in person again. Some of our members also reported record Harrogate’s after the last tough year, this was most definitely welcomed by all, as well as picking up new business it was also a chance to meet existing clients and Harrogate always has an air of networking around it due to its outside spaces, its famed sundowners and the abundance of great food waiting a short distance away in Harrogate town Centre.
The Giftware Association also launched its annual Gift of the Year competition at Harrogate Home and Gift, now in its 44th year the awards show no signs of slowing down with companies eager to enter and so many great products to be entered. The GA helped numerous companies choose their best ranges and helped display their nominated cards to attract even more buyers to their stands. We also spoke to buyers who would very much like to be judges of those products and we are looking forward to see a flood of entries when companies get back to their offices and make their choices.
The jubilant mood carried on throughout the show and exhibitors who took a chance on the show were rewarded, and I think confidence was raised on both sides of the supply chain cementing the way for future shows and live events in or industry. The Giftware Association is looking forward to the next live industry events and seeing more of our member companies our and about and finally doing business in some of their successful habitats.