I was reminded over the last couple of days that at least one person had read the blog I had written about embarrassing things I had done at the Stationery Show TWO years ago. (Thanks Simon).
I thought I’d follow up this year with another round up as I’d like to think two days at a stand in Islington is an excellent barometer of where the industry/world is right now. In reality, I accept that it is actually a mediocre barometer of my mental state. You tell me.
Firstly, I should like to address the C word head on. It is a word that I have been known to judiciously use, sometimes converting it to an adverb (i.e. this is so C…… ingly shit). Yes, I do think it works. So it was, during conversations with various visitors over the two days, the C word and its veracity and position within our collective lexicons was discussed. It seems that there is a seismic shift in opinion. Not one person actually said the word, but most agreed that it does, indeed, play an important role in expressing extreme views/emotions/general feelings toward certain people in our lives/friends’ lives and life in general. One of my particularly clever customers gave me his view on the entire issue which went something like this:
The C Word is to the F word what the F word was to the word Bloody a couple of decades ago. Read it again, I think it makes sense.
I don’t think I’ll be putting the C word on any products in the coming decade or so, but never say never. And I think the shift in the general feeling toward the four letters in a very particular order is interesting.
So what else happened at the Stationery Show this year? It was busy. The same people who always walk on by our stand did exactly just that. I was rude to approximately the same percentage of potential customers as I usually am. There were, this year, however, a disproportionate number of people taking photographs without asking, some in such an obvious clandestine manner that I’m relieved that they spend their time taking undercover photos of notebooks as opposed to actually having to take actual clandestine photos. Please just ask to take a photo – I accept times are changing and the ‘no photography’ rules are a thing of the past.
There were some lovely bloggers. In particular, three woman who were very complimentary and made me glow with pride and then they confused me with acronyms of social media stuff. I await enlightenment; a lightbulb moment of clarity that I’m hoping will make it all seem worthwhile.
Two very young ladies popped by and spent ages going through everything and taking photographs (without asking), loudly proclaiming their opinions on each title to each other (and although most of their views were favourable, they did offer up their considered and experienced opinions that some were simply shite). So, having already ascertained that I must be deaf, being only a metre away, they scowled at me as I took a single step toward them, rictus smile on my face. “What is it you do?” I ask and they tell me the name of the retail chain in which they work, or maybe their mums worked there, I don’t know. I had obviously heard of the chain, but I genuinely didn’t know what they did. So I asked and I can’t tell you what they said, because they looked down and mumbled. Sam told me once they were out of earshot (you know, more than a metre away). They weren’t the power tool manufacturers that I had always assumed, but they were just as unlikely to buy my stuff as a power tool manufacturer and I’m not entirely sure what they were doing at the STATIONERY show. Still, they were good for a bit of righteous indignation.
Ummm, what else; one of my lovely customers brought me cake on my birthday and a thing of beauty that slice of strawberry sponge it was. I offered some up to my next door neighbour. She promptly declined and then proceeded to extol the virtues of its aesthetics, taking photographs whilst breathing rapturous promises to herself to paint its delicately coloured layers. All of which, and I’m only guessing here, is what makes her a great artist who deserved the TWO awards she had received the night before.
I, as someone who is currently overweight bemoaned the cake’s calorific content, saw no future potential for the beauty of said cake slice and ate it. Which probably goes a little way to explaining why I didn’t win an award the night before.
I had a few wobbly moments when I hated everyone (is it just me? Please tell me it isn’t just me). So a few extended breaks were taken. I outraged Sam by taking my M&S salads upstairs, borrowing a plate, knife and fork from the cafe, decanted and ate like a civilised human being. It was brazen and I don’t know their rules, but I revel in that whole middle-aged ‘what are they actually going to do about it’ state of mind. I even sent Sam proof just to get that whole ‘I can’t believe you did that’ response from him – you know, from the man who’s survived proper muggings without a whiff of PTSD.
I had a lovely time talking to fellow exhibitors, some extremely experienced, others not so much, but all of us aware of the rule of mid-sentence stop and slight nod of head to denote potential new customer crossing the invisible line onto the stand. I laughed a lot during catch-up-on-life sessions with old friends and I didn’t cry. Not once.
So all in all, I’d say it was a successful and exhausting two days. Will I return next year? You’re C….tingly right I will.
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