At the recent Lincoln Showground event on March 28, he had made four sales by early afternoon.
One of these was a Persian carpet going to a new client. A Lincoln local, he had found Fletcher on Instagram prior to the fair and purchased the carpet for £500, organising to pick it up on the day. Even in the day of internet buying, there is still a place for in-person fairs to bring dealers and clients together.
Besides the presence of overseas sellers such as Fletcher, Arthur Swallow Fairs does well particularly with trade buyers from the US and Italy. Co-organisers Marc and Richard Burgoin told ATG that international trade is back up after a few years of uncertainty due to the pandemic.
At the most recent event, one stallholder was particularly popular with the Japanese trade, almost selling out of her antique linen. One purchaser picked up a selection of doilies for £80 to take back to clients in Japan.
Persistent rain on the day tried the patience of many. There was a scarcity of dealers in the outside area of the showground, with the fair around 25% down on exhibitors. Some had packed up by mid-morning, although with trading starting at 6am, there was still business to be done. Those who stuck it out remained positive and the dealers that had braved the weather did well.
Like many midweek fairs, customers at the Tuesday Lincoln are predominantly trade.
Paul Tucker from Clearly Collectables is a regular stallholder with Arthur Swallow, standing at both this one and the vintage Sunday market the team organises. He agreed that Lincoln is a predominantly a dealer-to-dealer event. However, he added that it “all depends on who comes through the door. If you don’t get the right people or enough people through the door, you don’t sell.”
Luckily most visitors came ready to spend. Among the buyers was Emma Peake, who runs Daisies Flower Shop, a florist and interiors shop in Spalding. She comes to the fair to scout out pieces for her shop and was leaving on Tuesday with a trove of small pieces of furniture.
Many of the stallholders at this fair went on to stand at the Newark Showground for IACF at the end of the week. With Newark taking up the Thursday and Friday, it’s a busy time in the calendar.
Richard Burgoin said that the proximity in date and time is quite helpful as it makes both fairs a trade destination – and a simple, cost-effective decision for the standholders to spend their week in the Midlands.
Among those standing at both fairs were Dan and Chris from Campbell’s Antiques. They specialise in taxidermy and say Lincoln is a chance to start the week off well before travelling on. By early afternoon at Lincoln, they had sold four pieces including a warthog mount and a gemsbok antelope which had gone to separate private buyers for £600 each.
Also standing at both events were Maria and Kevin from Black Cat Antiques & Interiors. Of the two, they said Lincoln “is smaller than Newark, so it’s easier for people to get around and see what we have to offer”. They praised the organisers saying that “the fair has a nice family feel”.
The next Lincoln Fair is May 30, but if you can’t wait that long head down to Swallow’s Antiques & Salvage Market in Knutsford on April 22.