So, I am putting computer type face to screen to tell it as it is - the scales need to fall from the eyes people. Yes, really - it is all your fault for keep paying exorbitant prices to go into shows with very indifferent offerings - if people didn't go then the shows would either have to buck their ideas up or stop - either way it's a win.
I am particularly embittered as we started planning back in October in order to launch a specific new product at exactly the right time, to the right market. Everything was focused on that, printing of information and advertising was ordered, press releases written and scheduled. All was built up in the show catalogue - come to our stand with the passwords 'Summer Frocks' and you will receive a free gift of the product. (What can it be, Rosie you ask) Well you may never know because the right time has passed. How so? The Thursday before the Show the manufacturers told us they wouldn't be delivering, as promised since from forever. I was away Friday and Saturday, pallets were to be packed on Sunday and away on Monday, set up Wednesday. So little time to get over this blow and to regroup. I was not a happy bunny.
To everyone who came to the stand with their passwords - I have apologised to you in person and I do so again now. If we ever do produce this product then we'll have a little competition and make sure you all win. That is our own sorry little back story, and whilst I appreciate that it has some bearing on the rest of this blog - I really want the general public to know how the world of shows is constructed.
This post will be long - better make a cup of tea!
Non-refundable 'registration fee' £65.00 + vat
Insurance £150 + vat
( You can claim this back afterwards providing you can meet their insurance criteria - which you know you won't )
Electrics - 1 x 1.8m strip light, 1 x single socket
I fee to test their equipment before installation £214.45 + vat
Storage - receive 2 x pallets, store overnight, deliver to stand. Store empty pallets for show duration, deliver back to stand, remove packed pallets back to storage overnight and then supervise collection by carrier on first day of breakdown, These guys were helpful, cheerful and efficient - a little ray of light in the gloom. The total cost was £129 + vat and worth every penny.
Display - we were initially told verbally that there was no problem fixing things to the shell scheme so I didn't book anything . . . . Two days before the show it was 'no staples', no double sided tape etc and if you want to use double sided Velcro to fix then you need to buy it from the service desk . . . you can guess the price. As I have
fabric at the back of the stand plus picture frames I decided the best way forward was to order muslin battens top and bottom so that I could staple the fabric up, and some flat shelves to put the picture frames on.
8m x wooden batten ( 2 x 4ms ) plus 10 x shelves was an eye-watering £405.94 + vat - this was because it was ordered after the deadline and you have to pay a surcharge. I paid up and thank goodness I had the paid invoices with me as it took over 7 hours on setting up day and numerous visits to the service desk and various excuses/promises for them to tell me they didn't have an order. By then they didn't have any stock either so at 8.30 p.m. they STAPLED it to the back wall which we could have done at midday and saved ourselves the long wait. In the general melee they managed to dislodge the electrical connection and left it hanging in free air - 'we'll send someone to fix that' in a minute. Of course they didn't - so much for my extensive risk assessment. Then, when they came to remove during break-down, they thought we had tried to hack into it for something . . . .
Advertising in the Show Guide with passwords for free gift etc £60 + vat
So Stand Costs are a total of £3011.39 ex vat
The pallet collection and delivery back for 2 pallets £211.81 plus vat
Recipe booklet giveaway printing plus emergency printing to explain about lack of new product launch, Press packs, was £250 no vat on printing
Our fuel backwards and forwards each day £150 inc
Food, refreshments, drinks etc £200 inc
So, total show costs were a - modest by most stands there - £4467.84 inc vat, give or take 84p.
And all in aid of product which the manufacturers failed to deliver . . . there are no words that describe how we felt.
Why ever didn't you pull out Rosie? I hear you cry. Well, because we would still be
liable for 75% of the stand costs, so you just keep going . . .
Be under no illusion that the small companies represented at these shows are 'raking it in'. I guess if you selling large items like conservatories or hot tubs it may be easier to cover the costs with a couple of sales.
Now your side of things . . .
The door entry for a single adult with no concessions was £27.00
The car park was £12.00 per day
So for a couple to park and enter the Show was £66. I realise that it is two shows in one and the Gardeners World Show I thought looks absolutely excellent value.
I don't know how many stands there were in our food part - several hundred - some were 'no-shows' for whatever reason which then others spreading into them in a rather haphazard way. Without analysing the catalogue I can tell you from walking into the show each day that there were several stands that were duplicated - several hog roasts and hot sausage stands catering for the masses, 40 stands related to alcoholic drink of one kind or another, 10 charity stands including Cats Protection League, RSPB, RNIB etc etc. Rather randomly there were some nail bars, jewellery stands, baby clothes, oil paintings and the like. Maybe you can see where I am heading here?
The general charge for coffee was anywhere between £2.50 and £5 - we had two teas from a vending machine to save queuing and received two paper cups half filled with tea for £4.50. There is an exhibitor's lounge where you can get free tea but it was too far to get to in a short dash. We took bottles of water and sandwiches every day, more to save time than anything else.
There were some interesting food stands there - vegan cakes and puddings which looked authentic and delicious, and some cheeses etc from France. A great Brownie stand, two or three preserves but in the main it was mostly franchised offerings. There were magic knives, magic chamois leathers and magic mops, mixers, kettles, yoghurt makers and the like.
When you think of the wealth of really great regional food on offer in this country now it was a very poor showing - but who could afford the costs that I have described above? We only did it to launch our great new product, which didn't materialise, in the belief that there would be a return on investment, which there won't be. Small artisans can't take that risk and they would not be able to make enough sales to cover their costs. Plus all of the free sampling that is required. Visitors swooping down to devour whatever is on show with no intention of 'tasting' or even buying - but who can blame them. They have to get some value for money somehow.
There are twelve shows of this brand per year now plus all of the other brands and magazine backed shows. I think the whole thing needs a radical re-think although, as the people in charge are the only ones making any money or gaining a benefit of any kind, I don't think we shall see a change any time soon.
Unless you vote with your feet of course.