Spring Fair 2018 – A tale of Unicorns and Flamingos

In it’s own words, Spring Fair is “the UK’s No.1 trade show for gift and home products.”  It’s huge and I really mean huge.  I’ve been to the NEC before but must have only covered a small part of it because yesterday I walked almost all of it.  It runs until 8th Feb so still plenty of time to visit yourself and find just about anything you might need.  There was much to take away from our visit and digest the next day.

Spring Fair is Massive

nec sign in front of building
The NEC Birmingham

I’ve already mentioned the sheer scale of the venue which is enormous and the venue is crammed full of manufacturers, distributors, agents and retailers promoting their wares.  In total, the NEC is more than 182,000 square metres, set in 160 acres of hard standing and 75 acres of woodland.  Since opening, it is reckoned 60 million visitors have been through the doors.  Here are 10 facts you might not know.


There’s a-lot of really great products out there

We found some really great products out there.  There is definitely a perception that our children are getting hooked on electronic devices earlier and earlier all the time.  There might be a bit of that and we’re certainly not here to take that subject on now.  Suffice to say, mastering electronic devices is a necessary life skill for our children so there is definitely a place for it.  However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a vibrant market for non-electronic activities involving a wide range of arts & craft type creative play.  One of our favourites was the Pusheen range.  (Did you know how many times a day the Pusheen emoji is used on Facebook?  It’s a very big number!)

Toys and Gifts covered a wide range

We are a traditional children’s toys and gifts business that started out with wooden toys that we all know and love.  We also knew that there was a wide range of interests in our age range (0 to 8 years).  What we hadn’t realised was just how wide ranging the stands would be at Spring Fair.  Straightaway, a good example is a range of Pusheen creative play gifts.  The guys at Smart Fox have got a great range of Pusheen gifts including sewing, cross stitch and cookie cutter sets for younger children.  But their sales don’t stop when kids get to early teenager but continue well into adulthood.  That’s what struck us most – there’s just as big a market for toys for adults as their is for kids.  We saw puzzles, model making kits, meccano type kits and many more all aimed at both young and old.  Apparently, home brewing and vegetable growing also counted as toys and gifts but we weren’t so sure.

It’s an international affair

We have suppliers from abroad, Janod in France and Melissa & Doug is the USA for example, but Spring Fair is a truly international occasion.  As you would expect, the biggest overseas presence was from China and India.  Many manufacturers and distributors from overseas looking to sell to us but also very many looking to sell into those markets and targeting visiting buyers from overseas.  Unsurprisingly, alot of what we seem to sell into these markets is based around the traditional and iconic images of England.  Products were often based on the Royal Family, famous landmarks and the military.  Irrespective of that, however, business is obviously thriving and good for all concerned.

What’s this about Unicorns and Flamingoes?

It quickly became apparent that the theme for 2018 was going to be unicorns and flamingoes.  They were everywhere with unicorn and flamingo themed puzzles, soft toys and even swimming floats!  At the end of the day, we were walking through the home furnishings hall we noticed something unusual.  There were ranges of unicorn and flamingo themed ornaments on just about every display we passed.  You heard it here first, you’ll be seeing alot more unicorns and flamingoes before 2018 is done!




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