We can no longer contain our excitement and must now share with you all our exciting news from the 2018 Spring Fair trade show in Birmingham!
Having booked a hotel for the previous night, we decided travelling down in the evening was our best bet as it is a two and a half hour journey at best. Zoe turned up after work and having ordered our Joey special (two pizzas), I was midway through hoovering my car and getting Leo organised, which always takes longer than anticipated. We didn't leave until much later than scheduled and expected a relatively easy journey – we were mostly right. Birmingham is not a city either of us are particularly familiar with although we have visited separately on numerous occasions for various reasons. The last time I went was to a bangin' hardcore night at The Custard Factory, which feels like an absolute lifetime ago! When we finally arrived we excitedly checked into the Ibis Hotel and got started on the Doritos and dip (an old tradition of ours that we couldn't wait to rekindle), whilst we had a skin cleanse and made plans for the morning. It was nearly midnight when we decided to get some shut-eye, and knowing we had an early start we were both keen to try and get as much sleep as possible.
..neither of us did, really. And Leo was grumpy as all hell being woken up after not nearly enough sleep. We had hoped some hash brown breakfast bribery would improve his mood, but chasing around McDonalds at 8am was not my idea of fun, so we got into the car and continued to the NEC, blasting out some of our Get Psyched tunes and changing the lyrics to reflect our situation... we are experts at this, honestly.
We arrived after a not too stressful journey across Birmingham and with plenty of time to mooch about before our eagerly awaited appointment with the Paladone rep. Somehow we managed to lug Leo, the pram, and all our stuff for the day relatively easily onto the shuttle bus and into the arena, where we obtained our lanyards and maps, and were beeped into Zone 5 – Toys and Gifts.
Leo insisted on getting out and pushing the pram, and after being sat down for so long who could blame him? So we let him stretch his legs and the first stand he ran to contained so many beautiful plush toys he was absolutely beside himself trying to pet the unicorns and dragons. As we wandered around the stand, he spotted the Julia Donaldson display, and the company rep came over and insisted he take his very own Stick Man plush toy. Leo was overjoyed (“Thank you, lady!”) and after Zoe exchanged some details with her, we went on our merry way to the next stalls, where we played with battery powered animals, Leo rode a tractor and played with some wooden animals, and we were delighted to come across the Noble Collection's booth – a company we were hoping to meet but realised we would find it incredibly difficult to locate everyone we wanted to see in such a an enormous space. Zoe and I were awestruck by the merchandise on offer and she got to chatting with the rep right away. Leo was bored at not being able to touch all the expensive but very appealing memorabilia, so we snuck away to see what else was around. He quickly spotted some Disney Pixar toys and set about making a mess of this company's display too. Again, the wonderful rep came over and said Leo could have a Lightning McQueen plush toy, and a Cruz Ramirez, if he was able to put away the toys he had already got out. He happily obliged and again said “Thank you lady!” this time offering her his hand to shake and announcing, “Nice to meet you!”.
Everyone was enamoured with him, and we were so grateful that the reps and staff made it so easy to get around with a toddler. Leo is spirited to say the least, and shopping with him is intense at the best of times, this was always going to be a challenge, but the constant stream of kindness and attentiveness from the reps made it a much more pleasant and easy going experience for all of us.
We realised then that we should probably find where Paladone were located and start making our way to see them, but being the crusty vegan hippy I am, I got totally distracted en route by the BeWater booth and much to my delight, got to choose one of their water bottles to take home for myself after winning their challenge. Zoe was allowed to choose a crystal tumblestone to take home as well, and declared “That's it. You've ruined water for me now!” after completing their taste test.
We left hastily after this as we knew we would be short for time if we stopped to talk to everyone. Leo was strapped back in the pram at this point but starting to get a bit fussy so again he was freed to wander. We passed a few other stalls that handed us some freebies (including sweeties, and bubbles for Leo) and we made our way a little earlier than planned to the Paladone booth.
What a welcome! Zoe and Rebecca got straight to work checking out all the stock and deciding what to place on pre-order, whilst Leo flitted between attempting to wreck the place, running away, and getting on the floor to play with the Mario Kart 'backpack buddy' cars. In a bid to stop him legging it, I made myself comfy on the floor and we passed the Mario Kart characters back and forth across the booth whilst Zoe and Rebecca got stuck in. We played actual Mario Kart for awhile, too, and checked out some of the other stock whilst speaking to the other lovely reps.
I insisted to Zoe that she MUST stock the Harry Potter eggcup and toast set, as well as the Wonder Woman mug and travel mug. Wonder Woman merchandise is thin on the ground sadly, despite the recent movie release, and it's success. I had very little time unfortunately to help Zoe choose the stock, as Leo was being more than a handful at this point, however, when she later discussed with me the items she had ordered and showed me the invoice – WOW! She didn't need my help at all, and we are both so excited to show you this new stock, including Mario, Game Boy, PlayStation, new Star Wars and Disney items (Mrs Potts teapot, anyone?) and of course, Harry Potter.
After the epicness of Paladone we decided we needed a rest so headed, with yet more swag, to the cafe to claim our complementary brews, and go over some ideas for the shop going forward. We were all feeling tired and wanted to attempt to beat the traffic home so decided we would wander back to the shuttlebus to make our way home.
En route back through the halls we ran into another company, and how glad we were! Zoe ended up placing another massive order of Harry Potter items with them, including some absolutely gorgeous jewellery – I wanted it all, it was so gorgeous, and again we can't wait to reveal this to you!
We went past some balloon stands and again, another lovely rep said Leo could have a freebie. He chose a Spider-Man balloon on a stick, and thanked her by patting her on the head with it! After meandering back through the toys and gifts section and Leo charming more reps, we made it to the exit and back to the car. We don't want to talk about the six and a half hour journey home that cost us £5.90 on the M6 toll and 12p on a weak bridge somewhere near Salford when we finally abandoned the M6 from Lymm services. No, we don't want to talk about it. And we definitely don't want to talk about how Zoe nearly vomited when we got back to Pendle and how neither of us thought we would ever be happy to see the M65, but were overjoyed when we finally made it to a recognisable stretch of road. The return journey was, in a word, abysmal. But the excitement of the new stock and plans for the shop for the future certainly numbed the pain a little. I doubt either of us will return to Birmingham in a hurry!
There's so much new stock coming in, we honestly can't remember what we have ordered (oops!) and lots of it is pre-production, so over the next few months we will showcase as much stuff as we possibly can via our Facebook and Instagram pages! There are even some UK EXCLUSIVE items coming out, we may be one of the first retailers in the UK to stock these (including Harry Potter merchandise) so keep your eyes peeled for this and our BIG news regarding our ever expanding Harry Potter collection! More on that news at a later date, but for now we can FINALLY REVEAL we will be stocking Harry Potter WANDS. We know our loyal customers and HP fans ask us so often whether we can get these and when, we can now confirm we ARE GOING TO STOCK THEM SOON!
Thank you to all the wonderful people that made Spring Fair so much fun for us all, and thank you to Zoe for inviting us along and being the absolute best travel buddy anyone could wish for. Just the right mix of excitement and cynicism to get us both through it all, and we are without a doubt the best carpool karaoke team to grace the Earth. Why we didn't pack a dashcam to record all our ridiculous operatic antics, I will never know... maybe next time!
We will be back soon with a much anticipated Feature Bride – Wedding of the Month blog! Our first of 2018! And don't forget to use code STUPIDCUPID to get 10% off online until Valentine's Day. Zoe has promised me a slap up takeaway on Wednesday night, so if you all buy more stuff, I can get more food!
Lots of love,