Exhibitors are creatures of habit, not least when it comes to where they pitch their stall as fair regulars. Take Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair, hosted by B2B Events nine times a year.
As ATG circled the January event at the Three Counties Showground it was clear Malvern’s regular dealers are passionate about their favoured slots – be they inside or out.
B2B has pre-booked positions dubbed ‘special outside pitches’ for those dealers willing to pay upfront.
They entail a commitment from dealers, come rain or shine. “Regardless of whether I came or not I have to pay, but I always do come,” says Chris Tandy of The Vintage Jockey in Leicester, outside selling vintage clothing, uniforms, furs and items for pubs and restaurants.
Daniela Lichters, specialising in 19th century antique painted Swedish furniture and folk art, had travelled from Derbyshire for her special outside pitch. Her stall is hard to miss, for its mix of shabby chic items and a prime position on the way to outside casual stalls.
“We pay £54 including VAT ahead of time and it means we don’t have to queue to get in,” Lichters says.
Indoors, the ‘drive-in’ Wye Hall has a waiting list of dealers selling furniture and larger items who want to stall beside their vehicles.
Andy Leavis is one of the event’s loyal Welsh contingent – he drives one hour to Malvern from his shop Courtyard Antiques in Presteigne.
“We’re normally in the Avon Hall but we’re trying the drive-in after a cancellation,” he says. “Turns out it’s great for off-loading larger things that have been in the shop for a while.”
Inside the other main indoor arena, the Avon Hall, pitches start at £54 including VAT for a six-foot table. Darren Harvey of Harvey Evans Antiques was selling pre-Georgian pottery, glassware and the occasional firearm. “I prefer being here because it’s warm and dry, and we can just wheel our boxes in.”
B2B Events director Helen Yourston, who co-owns the firm with husband Alan, was conscious that rain before the fair caused setting up time, already frenetic ahead of a single-day event, to be further condensed.
“When we arrived at 9am yesterday morning, the grass areas were soggy and unusable,” she told ATG. “So today, we had to ask the outside pitches – 200 out of 500 overall – to set up on the tarmac instead.”
Corralling 200 determined dealers can’t have been easy. “They’re so passionate about how they stall out here – there were some lively conversations!”