Memories of trade shows!

Last week we visited the National Bed Federation (NBF) trade show at Telford and it brought back memories of trade shows! These go back long before the days of adjustable beds!

Was it 1970 or 1971?

My first trade show was the Furniture show staged at Earls Court in London. My memory is perhaps, not that good I am not certain if it was 1970 or 1971. Certainly a long time ago now. How different it was, back then the show was on for 2 weeks. Nowadays the shows last for 4 days at the most, last weeks was just 2 days. But still hard work I am sure.

When I worked for Myers beds and attended my first trade show as one of their sales representatives it came as a complete shock to me. I was amazed by the size of the show at Earls Court and thought it would be easy. Little did I know, standing about waiting for your customers to appear was hard. It was even worse when they all seemed to arrive at the same time. Back in those days apart from trying to get orders from customers you also were expected to entertain at least some of them each night!

Entertaining

Going out for a meal and then lots of drinks afterwards was great in theory. But staggering back to the hotel at 2 or 3 AM was not so good. Especially when you had to be back on the stand the next morning by nine o clock ready for a 10 AM start! By Friday you felt worn out, we didn’t work over the middle weekend but stayed in London ready for the second week which was open to the public. Once my colleagues realised that I had plenty of retail experience I was volunteered to talk to anyone and everyone. The trouble was that we had less staff for that second week and a lot more people to talk to. By the end of it, I actually lost my voice

What did I learn from it?

Plenty, I was fortunate to work with a great company and a great boss. He looked after me and taught me how to be a better salesperson. By making me aware of being empathetic to others and of the very important sales ideas. He also believed in me and backed me whenever he could. As for me, I learnt to have more confidence and to make sure that my customers got the service they deserved. Something I still do now.

Differences from then to now.

I think that some things have changed very little but it is a shame that names and companies that existed then are either defunct or just a name. Slumberland; Myers; Reylon to mention just a few are still about but only as a name in a larger group. There are however many companies growing and blossoming especially in the world of adjustable beds. Adjust-A-Bed and Bodyease together with Furmanac and Vogue make up some of the UK’s leading adjustable bed companies. All are, of course, available through me Robert Winchurch at www.mobilityproducts4u.org