If I think back to 10 years ago, the Spring Fair was the biggest trade fair, that I’d been going to since the mid 1980’s, it was held, as it still is, at the NEC in Birmingham and it was huge, covering all 20 halls and took us a full 4 days to go round.
We have just come back from the Spring Fair this year, which we managed to do in less than a day. It still covers 12 of the halls but the housewares part is now a fraction of the size and variety that it once was, so it’s questionable if it will be worth a visit next year.
All is not lost however, as whilst a part of the reason for its decline is the lack of Cookshop customers (dozens of local cookshops like us have closed down in the last 10 years or so, with the internet, low margins and increasing rents being the main reasons for this) other shows have sprung up in its place. The Exclusively Housewares show has filled the mid-season, Christmas buying slot and now a new show, called Indx, looks like it may well replace (for us at any rate) the new year buying position. And this we will be going to later this month, for the first time.
However, the Fair this year, whilst small, was still worth going to, if for no other reason than welcoming back Silverwood’s who make the best bakeware (in the world?). It was good to see Adam back with the company, along with the new owner. It’s not an easy job manufacturing handmade, or hand finished, bakeware in this country and I take my hat off to them for persevering. Apparently, stocks of much of the range will be available in three- or four-weeks’ time, and this time I am holding my breath. I’ll tell you the moment we get the range back in stock.
Prospective new lines
Otherwise, there was a nice range of Stainless Steel Kitchen Tools from the Swiss manufacturer Kuhn Rikon, along with some kids kitchen knives, and a number of ‘Air Fryers’ from Salter, Tower and Zwilling, a very nicely made and boxed set of BBQ tools (from Tower). And actually, I could go on for quite a while but as they are not yet in stock, I’ll leave it till they arrive to let you know what other stuff is new.
It's a standing joke in our business that anything that I slate, nearly always goes down a storm when I talk about it in my email.. so, for example, Le Creuset’s naff looking water bottle sold through very well, when I expressed my opinion, and as for the completely “under designed” perfectly ghastly Saunderton Sprinkles shaker, this turned out to be our best seller for a number of months, and, in fact, all three models of it are still in our top 10 products from Cole and Mason. But sometimes the inverse is also true.
Just before Christmas, Bryony Dyer from Dexam showed me a lovely round Beech Butchers Block that she had just introduced, selling for £60 , and on top of that she was giving away a very nice School of Wok Veg Chopper with it, RRP £27.50, I thought it couldn’t fail to sell. I was wrong! So, this week I really want 10 kind souls to buy the last of our stock, please.
I’m working on the assumption that everyone has their price and am reducing them down to £35.00. So, with a combined retail price of £87.50 (£60 + £27.50) this is somewhat less than half price. If you’re buying in the shops, just tell who you are. If buying online, as it has a knife in it you will need to pay £6.95 for Age Verified Delivery.
One last thought
Ok, that’s it for this week. A couple of thoughts to finish on though. A wee while ago a friend said she thought I could, at times, be a bit insular, a bit parochial and it made me think…a bit, I don’t like to do it too much lest it should wear out. Anyway, it obviously had some effect as I’ve taken to reading The Week again, after a long break!
The other morning I came across an article entitled Michael Rosen’s Grief, which I read out of curiosity. It tells the story of the death, 24 years ago, of the authors 18-year-old son Eddie. The article is a brief, but moving one, and it concludes with a quote from Rosen who says “I have sad thoughts every day, but I try not to be overcome by them”.
And actually, that meant a great deal to me. It sort of clarified how I feel when I think of Babette, during the course of the day, which I probably do a few times a day typically. And sometimes it’s sad, (and sometimes happy, especially when discussing her with others who knew her) but in the sad instances I relate to his statement “but I try not to be overcome by them”
But sometimes this is a bridge too far, and I have to just give in to the emotion. Sometimes I wonder how long this will go on for, but then I remember how much I valued her presence in my life and if I wasn’t sad, what would that imply for the quality of our relationship? So, it’s ok to be sad, it would be much sadder if I wasn’t!
To lighten, what maybe a slightly sombre note on which to end, I’ll let Billy Connolly, lift the mood.
“My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.”
If this doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then you and I have a different sense of humour. Eloquently put Billy.
I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend.