Go La La has just returned from PG Live 2017, the Greeting Card Trade Show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, and I thought I’d tell you all about it.
PGL is a 2 day International Greeting Card Show, and is the only trade show that is solely dedicated to the greeting card industry; so if you want to buy or sell cards then you really need to be here. It attracts buyers and distributors from all over the UK, as well as rest of the World, and is the show where just over a year ago we formally launched our business at the very same event; you can read about that here.
A year on, and we were far more prepared, we have a portfolio of cards we are much more confident in and happy with, including some great new ranges we launched at the Show and quite importantly, a greater knowledge of how the greetings card industry works, and thus we felt much more comfortable with our brand. Of course, in the interim we’d also attended Spring Fair in Birmingham in February where we’d further honed our skills, worked on the feedback that we’d received, and due to the large amount of social media we’ve undertaken, we have also got our name out there a bit.
On Sunday morning, we jumped onto the coach from outside our house armed with one case for clothes, one case for cards, samples and brochures, while a second hand golf carry case (off eBay for a fiver) contained our 34 shelves and other bits and bobs. Three hours later we were at Hammersmith coach station. Due to a terrorist attack in London the previous night we were expecting some travel issues, but from there to the Business Design Centre was all plain sailing, and throughout our stay everything seemed business as usual.
This year we’d moved from the Springboard corridor into the Springboard lounge on Stand 826, with a 3 x 1 rather than 2 x 1 stand to showcase our designs. Last year we had 58 cards to display, but now well over 200 (plus our 2 rudest ranges which were not displayed but hidden away from public view, for viewing in request). Setting up took only a couple of hours, and Warren Lomax (one of the organisers) popped round to say hello and take a look at our new offerings, which was good of him. Following a quick drink or 2 with our buddies from Jelly Armchair, we were off to the Gate (a vegetarian restaurant 10 minutes down the road that they recommended). Following a delicious meal, including a vegan Eton mess with meringue made from chickpea juice – yes really) it was back to the pub and in typical Go La La fashion we eventually hit the hotel at 2am…it’s not our fault that there was a pub with a late licence just down the road from us, is it?
Monday was a day of leisure and tourism; we went on a self-guided ghost walk, took a tour of the Courts of Justice, walked over the Millennium bridge; wandered round the Tate Modern, dozed on deckchairs in the sunshine outside Saint Paul’s, and ambled around before popping into the BDC for a check on our stand before a meal with a load of other Card Publishers from the Ladder Club at the Ask Italian restaurant next door. It was a good opportunity to put names to faces, and chat to old friends, although the booming acoustics in the room made conversation tricky.
On Tuesday morning we were at the Business Design Centre bright and early (well about 5 minutes before the doors opened), and waited for the show to start. We’d caught up with our neighbouring Publishers from previous trade shows Jelly Armchair, Choco Greetings and Katie Phythian, but now we had new neighbours to get to know: Bold Bunny, Pool Cat and the Taste Buds and Jusna Ahmed Designs, and jolly nice they all were too.
The first day went really well; we had plenty of interest, several new orders, further strengthened relationships with some bigger buyers and chatted with the guys from Scribbler (a multiple that has just taken us on) and House of Cards ( a multiple that is trialling us, and had confirmed the previous week). So that’s all exciting stuff. We were visited by several current customers and had some really great feedback from a national buyer who particularly liked 2 of the new ranges we’d launched here, so that was fantastic news. We’re still a bit young for them and they want to see our development, but we wouldn’t want to jump in just yet anyway – it’s a little daunting, but it was very good to get such feedback from a very experienced buyer. Other similar comments commended our strength in the humour market, and we are now cracking on with further development of the Go La La brand. One thing we didn’t get, that we were aiming for was a new agent or two, so that is something we need to continue to work upon….so if you are one, or know one….you know how to reach us.
Tuesday evening was the PGL drinks reception, which gave us the opportunity to mingle with other publishers and buyers, as well as have a drink or two from the free bar. It was great to catch up with people and I did manage to talk to one retailer who, because of our conversation, came to us and placed an order on Wednesday, so that was lovely, and another new shop to add to our list.
Wednesday is the quieter of the 2 days, and the morning was very slow, but it did perk up after midday with a few more orders and some more leads so all positive stuff.
The show finished at 4.30pm, and we had an early coach to catch from Hammersmith. We had set ourselves a 30-minute target for breakdown, but we completed it in a mere 10 minutes, which surprised both of us. A quick scoot round to say goodbye to some of our mates and we were off back to Somerset.
For anyone new to the industry, who may be considering a trade show, PG Live is a great one; the organisers make you feel welcome; there is free tea and coffee all day, a delicious lunch, and the aforementioned drinks reception. Tracey Arnaud (one of the organisers) is always on hand if you have a query, pops round to check you are OK and will even look after your stand if you need to pop off for lunch, while Simon Boyd is in the organisers’ office for any stand related and technical queries. Of course, like any trade show it isn’t cheap, but it is not as scary an undertaking as it may seem.
See you there in 2018!