Simply put, it's like shopping for shops. Trade fairs are where retailers go to view products and place orders.
They're not open to the public (you have to register in advance and tell them about your business, so they know you are a legitimate buyer and not just somebody trying to do a bit of personal shopping) and in fact it's impossible to buy anything there and then - it's all about placing orders to be delivered in the future.
They're also incredibly inspiring and happy events. For retailers like me, who work alone, or even for those in small high street shops, it's just lovely to escape the shop / office and meet other people with a similar vision. It reminds me that I'm part of something bigger.
It's also a chance to see samples of all the new things coming on to the market - so it's pretty exciting.
Sunday just gone I traveled down to London for one of my favourites - Top Drawer. Held at Olympia it's a pretty beautiful, discerning fair - to my mind it's the best fair for seeing all the nicest, most inspiring manufacturers together, and there are lots of smaller companies too so it's a great place to find new suppliers.
Back in the office I'm sorting through the bits and bobs I picked up, and below are some of my highlights...
Some of the catalogues and samples I collected
Back in the office and working through the show guide
Moulin Roty - always a *joy* to visit
(and I had a nice cup of tea with Tim, the UK head of Moulin Roty)
The Maileg stand - separate post coming up about their new collection
Some inspiring displays...
...and it's great to touch and feel the products
Finally, one of my favourite new finds - these guys make the loveliest linen children's aprons