We just didn’t stop! It all went by in a bit of a blur though and here I sit in January wondering where the last two months of 2014 went. Most of it was spent cooking but that’s just day to day stuff you’re probably not interested in. I’ll take you through my thoughts (and these are indeed my thoughts only) on the shows we did instead, warts and all. Much more interesting.
Brentwood Festive Show with Aztec Events, 1-2 November.
Now these sort of events are, by and large, if I wasn’t working there, my idea of a living hell and something I’d avoid like the plague! Unlike outdoor markets, there’s no scenery to speak of other than row upon row of stalls. However, if you like your shopping and want to get all your Christmas presents ticked off the list in one fell swoop then they’re the place to be.
Quite expensive ones to do, the Aztec shows and with no camping available (or indeed desirable at this time of year!) a bit of travelling to and fro with some early mornings thrown in. Not my favourite combination…
Arrival and set up was straightforward enough but with limited space available for offloading there was quite a bit of hauling involved. Speaking to one particular stallholder we know, he told us that this was his 3rd best show of 2013. Our first thoughts were that we just hadn’t brought enough stock but oh how wrong that proved to be! Plenty of people there but with I guess about 500 stalls a hell of a lot of competition for people’s money. We did OK, well enough to book it again for 2015 but not in our top ten, especially taking into account the cost of the show. Every stallholder we spoke to said it wasn’t a patch on 2013 so here’s hoping 2015 will be better. I think the only winners in 2014 were the organisers…
Southend Festive Show, again with Aztec, 8-9 November.
Much the same as the one above, only it was worse. Stallholders had told us that this one was the poorer cousin to Brentwood but when we booked it we’d heard that the Aztec Festive shows were very good. Don’t get me wrong, we still turned a profit but for 2 long days with 2 people manning the stall, not really worthwhile. I always think to myself, “How much would we have taken on our home town Council Market for a fraction of the cost involved?” If the answer is much the same or better then it’s not a good show. On this occasion of course, had we been at Ipswich Market we’d not have been placed right in front of a speaker blaring out Christmas songs on a loop for 2 full days! Not one we’ll be doing next year and I was left at the end of the weekend having to reassess our targets for the month.
Co-op Christmas Show, Wherstead Park, Ipswich, 15-16 November.
More Christmas music! AAAAAAGH!
This was one of our better shows last year and being right on our doorstep was one we were looking forward to. First hour there though and we couldn’t even persuade anybody to try any of our sauces let alone buy any! For once though, the weather helped us out: it p*ssed down! Being an inside event people turned up in numbers and we ended up doing even better than we did last year. Things are looking up!
I know I said I wouldn’t but a bit about cooking now. The busiest period of the year was nearly upon us now with 13 event days in 18 days and internet orders now about to hit peak for the Christmas season. With stock-takes and sales traceability to do in between shows that meant not much time for production. The plan was to cease production for the year before the next show. We’d planned ahead though with minimal events booked in September and October to allow us to produce enough stock. Neverthless, it was a funny feeling switching the blender off for the last time, or so I thought…