Nursery Today magazine

Harrogate Trade Fair, but is it fair?

Written by: Andy Crane, Managing Director, BabyStyle

So here we are getting all our preparations ready for the annual pilgrimage to Harrogate and why wouldn’t we want to go? It’s such a beautiful elegant spa town and I can feel myself smiling just thinking about it.

Harrogate is a wonderful place to be able to go and meet retailers, see old friends and conduct business at what is now the UK’s only nursery show dedicated entirely for our amazing nursery trade.

How great is it that we all support it wholeheartedly and year on year book our stands, pay our dues and reap the benefits that exhibiting brings to us, but hang on, do we?

No we don’t!  Year-on-year the show is getting smaller, with fewer stands but yet the visiting footfall in Harrogate stills remains roughly the same, how, why?

Well, it has been noted that there appears to be a rather dubious practice by some repeat offenders of the booking of hotel rooms to tout wares or furtive meetings being held over a coffee.

Come on everyone, do you think that it really is ethical for you to be attending these surreptitious social events which essentially are feeding like a bloodsucking parasite from the body of Harrogate International Nursery Fair? Perhaps I should put it another way.

For example, you open your shop like you always have done, pay your bills to suppliers and the council and you take immense pride in your shop and all the wonderful goods inside. Even if it is tough out there, you do your best to help your customers, day in, day out and try to smile through the day.

Now, think of this, that’s all very well and good until the day someone appears on the pavement outside your front door and sets up their stall selling similar goods to what you’ve got inside, or possibly even worse, they come inside your shop grab the table in the most prominent position and help themselves to a skinny latte before hawking their wares through some glossy brochures.

Would you be happy? I don’t think so!

Surely though nobody would have the cheek and the brass neck to do such a thing would they? Oh, no wait, yes they do, it happens every year at Harrogate and, it would appear goes completely without mention or any sort of recompense!

Could it be that 2017 will see us all wake up and smell the coffee to bring an end to this practice, which is essentially street hawking, unethical and, putting it bluntly, killing the show.

So, if you value Harrogate and its importance in the nursery trade for all of us and want to see it continue and prosper then maybe have a rethink before you start accepting invitations that take place outside the confines of Harrogate International Centre during show days and give those folk clutching briefcases full of tricks a wide berth inside the International Centre.

See you all there – BabyStyle supports fair trade!

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