How to scope out a fair

Edinburgh Antiques, Vintage & Collectors Fair

Edinburgh Antiques and Vintage Fair
Definitely vintage on sale!

I went to visit the Edinburgh Antiques and Vintage Fair to see if I should take a stall there. If I took a stall at this fair it would cost money and would be my first formal fair.

I went undercover – pretending to be a buying member of the public. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything but would merely take note of price ranges, types of stock, stall layouts and designs, so I could decide whether to take a stall at the next fair in three months’ time.

But I left carrying a couple of lovely pieces of Poole pottery; a Christmas present to myself (that I need to forget about between now and December so I can look surprised when I unwrap it then); a lovely West German pot for my collection; and a couple of dishes to make up sets I already have for sale.

I think I’d make a bad spy but the trip was worth it. It’s quite an investment for a new trader to take a stall at the fair for the first time so I wanted to get an insight before I made the decision. Asking stallholders – many of whom were from outside Scotland – whether the trip was worth it was met with the standard response “Sometimes.” I realise now that I don’t know if that’s because of their transport costs and overnight costs factored in or because they sometimes make money and sometimes don’t.

There were some sellers who were grumpy and non-communicative – I had to wonder how they sold anything. Clearly they did or they wouldn’t be there – perhaps their stock spoke for itself or they were so worn out by the previous day, but they certainly ignored the people walking past. I’m guessing you have to be fit and keen enough to keep a smile on your face for the full two days!

What was good is that the sellers are all in one room so no-one is ‘off the beaten track’ and there was a wide variety of items being sold. I can also confirm that vintage is ‘in’ – I was worried that everything would be 18th Century grand antiques and my stock would not fit – but it seems that it will. There were some wonderful vintage lamps and side tables, cloth and decorative pieces for me to drool over.

Picture of Edinburgh Antiques and Vintage Fair
Note the lights and the shelves – many stalls had the same shelves.

The stalls themselves were physically very similar – most people even had the same display shelves! I’ve bought some slightly different shelves from Amazon (though they were sold out soon afterwards). I’ll be making shelf liners to stop smaller items falling between the wooden slats. I’ll also be rounding up all sidelights from my house until I can afford to get a matching set from IKEA.

Previously, I’ve been to the Galloway Antiques Fair at Scone Palace which was definitely not for my kind of stock and it was also easy for a stall to be put in the long back corridor.

Overall, I think that while my intention to research is a good one, I’ve learnt that you can’t do it in one visit. I visited the Sunday morning session and was very surprised to see tables of cheap jewellery, £3 ‘sale’ tables and a mixture of quantity and quality – and only a few stalls had a theme as such. What I don’t know is whether all the higher priced curated stuff had gone during the Saturday. I did see things up in the £100s (mainly Troika vases and stunning tiled coffee tables) but also many affordable things from £3–£50.

I left confident that I had the right stock and the right pieces. I also left knowing that I had to get shelves and lights for my stall.

While I don’t expect to make a fortune, I will be booking a stall!

2017 Dates – Saturday & Sunday

February 25–26
May 13–14
September 9–10
November 18–19

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