Yesterday was one very long day for the team at the Big Bead Show – up at 4am, on the road before 5 – quick break at Beaconsfield Services (how did we cope before that opened, in the olden days when the last stop before London was Oxford?)
The drive from the M25 to Sandown Racecourse is lovely, along the Thames and past Hampton Court Palace. We always look out for people rowing on the Thames, a little moment of watching something calm and quiet before the hectic day ahead.
We arrived at Sandown just after 7.30. The hall doesn’t open until 8 so we unloaded the van right by the doors so that we could get in as fast as possible once the doors opened. By five to eight there was quite a large group of exhibitors all hanging around – we must look quite a strange sight with our bags, boxes, boards and bleary eyes. When the doors are unlocked it is like a slow ‘first day of the sales’ moment as all the waiting exhibitors rush forward as fast as their various beady burdens will let them.
Once in it was heads down and get the job done time. Julie started on set up, getting the tables sorted and all the bottom cloths on. Then the big boards go up – these are heavy and have to be clamped to the tables. While Julie was doing this the rest of us got all the stock into the hall. Christine is in charge of bauble kits and all things Christmassy, Pat looked after the electrics and got all the lights up, and the all important socket for the card machine, and Lisa had the trickier than it looks job of setting out the bead trays. They are quite the jigsaw to fit together, they come off the van in a random order and need to be sorted and colour co-ordinated as best as possible in the time available.
A quick hello to Elizabeth, the fabulous lady at Bead Magazine who organises the show, and then back to the display. Having got the basics out we now had to put up trees and twigs and decorate them with baubles, stars and angels; necklaces, bracelets, brooches and earring stands went out too, and suddenly it is 10 o’clock, the doors are open and we have customers, lots of them, asking questions and it takes a minute or ten to work out where things are, bags, cash box, brain cells!
The first couple of hours flew by, we saw lots of friendly faces, chatted about new designs, met Vicky the new editor of Bead & Jewellery Magazine who is super enthusiastic and was wearing some wonderful beady creations of her own designs, sold things, re-stocked, and then there was a little lull, phew, comfort breaks all round, and then it all got very busy again and suddenly it was quarter to three and Julie rushed off to teach her workshop.
By 4.30 the hall was quite quiet, we had seen several ladies who had been in Julie’s workshop and had really enjoyed it, and we were starting to tidy up and get ready for breakdown. It is amazing how much mess you can make behind a stand in just a few short hours. Empty bags and boxes, coffee cups, water bottles, all needed to be cleaned away before we could start breaking down the display.
Break down was hectic, re-packing the van as neatly as possible but never as neatly as it arrived, back on the road, home at 9, van unpacked by 10 … and today we get to sort it all out, stock check, tidy, re-organise, re-stock and get ready for the show in Harrogate next weekend!
I realise I have said very little about the hours that the show is open – that is because it all passes in a complete whirl. It really does seem that no sooner have you set up than you are breaking down again, the day completely flies by. We have our moments though, Christine completely lost the ability to construct sentences mid afternoon while talking to some ladies about dragons – they were fabulously understanding and we’re pretty sure we worked out what we were doing in the end. Christine was then revived with strong coffee with extra sugar in the hope she wouldn’t talk complete gibberish to anyone else!
The best thing about shows is meeting lots of people, there are loads of familiar faces at the Big Bead Show, there are people completely new to beading who want to get started, there are mail order customers who we finally get to meet – it is lovely to put faces to names, and there are the other exhibitors, many of whom we have known for years and it is great to catch up with.
If you were at The Big Bead Show we hope you all had a lovely day and if you are coming to the Harrogate Bead Show next weekend we look forward to seeing you there!