by Gwyn Headley
The Spring Fair is an annual event held in Birmingham’s NEC. It describes itself as “the ultimate launch platform for new products and trends, bringing the world’s brands and buyers together.”
Search for Spring Fair on Wikipedia however, and you only get the Johns Hopkins Spring Fair, which attracts some 25,000 visitors to a provincial American university.
Birmingham’s Spring Fair is massive, with thousands of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of visitors, yet it doesn’t rate a ripple on the internet. Its own web site is a desperate selling tool, bereft of any real information, simply data. How old is it? Who runs it? How long has it been going? Is it a direct descendant of those mediaeval Guild fairs? What’s it really for?
I went once, and it was huge and unfocussed. Companies selling dolls jostled with calendar publishers, fabric samples, wedding cakes, lawnmowers, accountancy firms, potters, balloons, jam, jewellery (this year carbon neutral, so no diamonds then), greetings cards and anything else you can think of.
Perhaps it’s an exhibition for trades that don’t have their own exhibitions?
Some greetings card manufacturers use photographs. We found out who they were. We telephoned them in advance. We created lightboxes and lightboxes of images we thought might appeal to them. We sent them to them. We called them again. We emailed to arrange meetings.
Not a twitter of interest. Yet fotoLibra sells well, and repeatedly, to a few select greetings card companies. But not to all of them.
So tomorrow two of us are going to the Spring Fair with a hit list of 25 greetings card companies. And we shall lay waste among them.
If only we knew what the Spring Fair really meant.