I should probably start with being thankful for all our customers, friends and family. We've faced one of our toughest years yet with lots of ups and downs, 2019 has been revolutionary for my own self development and realisation.
The first part of the year we had a lot of family commitments which impacted the product development and huge plans for the business, little did we know this would have an ongoing impact for the rest of the year. Initially we had planned for the first quarter to be for 'new products' and innovation, we want to do that every year really. Creating new designs and patterns for our store so that we can continue to expand our product sets.
We had things coming like Dorset steam fair as well as a few others we thought we would try alongside, one of which was the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford. The actual event was fantastic seeing the planes and meeting pilots etc... it was like watching Top Gun again but for real. We were meant to be trying something new and had a pitch in the craft tent, things were working out great until we had a really bad experience with the organiser of the craft tent. I must stress at this point this is not a reflection on the RIAT show! this was an independent events company running its own little part within the show, the short story is that we won't be going back to a crafts marquee run by that company. They spoke to us in an abusive manner, extremely condescending and not a way we would treat our customers let alone be treated by a supplier/events co-ordinator so we sacrificed our pitch fee, packed up and left. We did however come back to the event as a paying customer to enjoy the day which was fantastic.
We learnt several lessons here, the main one being: do not attend a show/event without doing your prior homework! we had several other similar experiences during 2019 not with bad showmanship but with general expectations, we've met lots of other stall holders doing the rounds over the last few years and tend to see lots of similar faces when attending these venues, they all seemed to mutter words and phrases along the lines of 'we were doing better this time last year' and 'I don't know why it's so quiet'. We too were feeling the effect of this, we couldn't put it down to anything in particular we just felt the pinch of what seemed less customer traffic through the venues (footfall), people not really buying.
We had our guesses as to what it might be, could it be BREXIT? Have people seen our products before? had we exhausted our flagship product line? a combination of both? poor positioning of our pitch? and the list goes on... We soldiered on through as we had paid our pitch fees to be at the venues throughout the year, we always do Frome Cheese show as it is local, we love Dorset Steam Fair as we see it as 'the big one' and more recently Gloucester Quays Christmas market. We also do a few more local to us at a slightly smaller scale - The Frome Cheese and Grain and Lacock village.
So with all of this combined we've had a pretty tough year, we have however come out on top extremely positive, the above does come across that we are a little bit down but in reality that isn't the case. We are thankful to our customers, fellow stall holders and family who support us. If we didn't attend these venues we wouldn't hear others stories and where to try next! we met some wonderful people along the way and always have neighbours at the shows we attend, these people become our friends along the way whilst sharing their dos and dont's!
Next year I think we will be resetting the clock and getting some of the jobs done we didn't manage in 2019, we will start the year in full product innovation mode, we will be adding new product lines to our store with an aim to reach more people, we've never really appealed to men, its always been mothers and children. I think we can do more with personalised Gym and sports stuff, Golf items, stag do T-shirts and the list goes on so expect to see items similar to this appearing in our store. Similarly we've done things for pets in the past and we're actually quite good at it (look at this photo stitch) so we should probably do more of it and make a noise about it. If you've got any suggestions of things you would like to see in our store please do let us know.
We seem to be quite successful on facebook with nearly 5000 likes, I'd like to get that over the 5k mark and rocketing towards 6k if possible, so will need to focus on online competitions and spreading the word, similarly I'd also like to do similar things with Twitter too. Although I'm not very good on twitter, please give us a follow if you have an account any publicity would be greatly appreciated if you can share and comment where possible.
I think we are in a great position moving into 2020, we've learnt from our mistakes, we have a plan of attack and roughly know which events we will be attending. We are definitely going to do Frome Cheese show & Dorset Steam Fair but we might try some different ones this year based on feedback from other stallholders (our new friends) such as the NEC in Birmingham Christmas fair!
I'll sign off with a huge thank you we couldn't have done it without you. We wish you and all your family a fantastic 2020 with good health and prosperity
Sarah and everyone at Springbok Crafts