This weekend was the big NEC Birmingham Toy Collectors Fair, which happens 4 times a year. I thought it might interesting to diarise our preparations and what it’s actually like to work as a stall holder.
2 Months Before
We mainly sell Funko products online but we also sell Lego mini figures and other collectibles at the toy fair, so spend a good deal of time sourcing mini figures and trading up Funko Pops to get a more diverse range for the stall.
10 Days Before
Typically our stall holder badges, parking permit and Ts & Cs arrive. We always book our stall at the previous event, so generally 3-4 months in advance. This pretty much ensures we’re positioned in the same spot and near our favourite stall holders that we’ve gotten to know over the past couple of years.
7 Days Before
The run up to the toy fair can be a little chaotic. Typically our living room looks like a toy bomb has gone off, as we have boxes of Lego mini figures to sort, identify, bag and price. We check every single figure because we only sell genuine figures and there are a lot of fakes around. We have a core of buyers that come to us at every toy fair, and we want to make sure they are getting the genuine article and in tip top condition so they keep coming back.
1 Day Before
The Funko Pops take up a lot of space, so are kept in storage. We get them out of storage the day before the toy fair, and sort them in to rares & regulars. “Rares” are typically more collectible, therefor command a higher price. “Regulars” are more common and we tend to do one day offers at the toy fair on these.
Day of the Toy Fair
It’s a 5am start, loading up the car with a spare table, boxes of stock, loading trolly and the all important food and drink supplies (2 cups of tea at the NEC will set you back over a fiver!) Despite the sunny forecast, it was pretty showery on the drive up the M5 to the NEC.
We arrive at the NEC around 7.20am – not bad timing, as gates open at 7am. We are directed around to the back of the hall to unload. We generally unload in two trips – the first trip, we take our spare table, table cloth, shelving and some boxes of stock.
The first task is to find our assigned table. It’s a bit like finding your seat at a wedding only on a much larger scale, with a large table plan and surname list. As we’re regulars and rebook for the next toy fair at the previous show, we more or less get the same spot each time.
Phil set’s up the spare table (one is supplied, and you are allowed another to give your stand extra depth), adds the table cloth (who doesn’t need a bit of a colour pop?!) and I put together the shelves while he goes to get the second load.
Generally, we’re all set up within an hour. During that time, we catch up with other traders, maybe make a few sales from them and buy a few things ourselves (most traders are also collectors.) Earlybird entry allows members of the public in at 8.30am to find the best bargains and we can do good trade between then and 10.30 which is general entry opening.
Every toy fair we do is different in terms of how busy it is. Sometimes we do all our trade before 12pm, other times like this one, trade is pretty steady throughout the day. We have many regulars that we see at every show and it’s lovely to catch up with them and find out how their collections are going, what bargains they’ve found (often they’ll give us hot tips on other traders with bargains that we might like ourselves.)
By 2.30pm, we’re pooped and looking forward to doors closing at 3pm. We start packing around 2.45pm and this time, we got the car packed in record time, and were back on the motorway by 3.10pm!
Post Toy Fair
Well, I’m pleased to say it was a very successful trading day. We packed all the stock back into storage, but we will have to plan in a stock take in the next week, switch the ebay store back on and update our accounts and stock lists (all the boring, but necessary bits!) I hope you’ve found this an interesting insight into a typical day selling at a large toy fair XOXO