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An Eye on the Calendar - Helen Yourston - B2B Events

Continuing our series An Eye on the Calendar we talk to Helen Yourston, Director of the B2B Events

Antiques News & Fairs - B2B Events An Eye on the Calendar

 

An Eye on the Calendar ... Helen Yourston - B2B Events

ANF:  Tell us when you started in the business? 

HY: Back in the 1980’s.

ANF:  What was the journey to your current role?

HY: A varied path. Firstly my then husband and I were collectors of Royal Worcester, and I had a small collection of Carlton Ware. The taxman decided he wanted some money and of course we hadn’t put much by so we raised some revenue by becoming part-time dealers selling at local fairs. At the time my full-time job was working for an auction room in Surrey as receptionist but also getting involved with the Ceramics & Glass section of the sale as well. I somehow found time to also teach a class on antiques at an Adult Education evening class with a friend.  As we sold at the fairs we couldn’t afford to restock with Worcester so went to Carlton Ware, this led us to meet one of the designers from Carlton Ware. We then became full time dealers travelling around the country to the fairs and becoming the largest Carlton Ware dealers in the world (before the internet was born). 

I split up from my then husband and moved up to Newark in 2001 to be with Alan my now husband.  I worked in an auction room in Nottingham before starting B2B Events with Roger Sumner in 2009.


Antiques News & Fairs - B2B Events An Eye on the Calendar



ANF:  What were the main differences in the antiques trade and the fairs circuit then and now?

HY: The internet and certain on-line auction rooms. Suddenly everyone became an ‘expert’ and a dealer. Having said this, as a researcher and historian it did open up a new world of items that were unrecorded or that I hadn’t seen before.  

What I do find very sad is that before the internet we held a Carlton Ware Conference, (we ran the Carlton Ware Collectors Club) once a year. This fell by the wayside as people just didn’t seem to want to meet up anymore. The Club in that form with a quarterly newsletter also closed. Whilst there is a club now it is purely online. Gatherings happen but are small in number and held at various collectors’ houses.

What is very evident at the middle of the range fairs is that we have to move with the times. There of course is still a following for the true antique items but visitors want more than that.  We have to accept a fair where there are collectables, vintage and retro. We need young blood into the business and for them old is the 60s onwards.  We also have to accept the work of designers now. They will be the antiques of the future.

In the early 1970s, 50 years ago, I was just leaving school. To someone who was born in 2000 i.e. 20 this year the 1970s is old, they appreciate what weird and wonderful things we were treating as everyday objects. As we get older we have to broaden our own minds to encompass this new generation.

As an organiser, what I do find funny is the overheard snippets from the dealers are just the same today as they were when I was on the circuit as a dealer. 

"They couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery," ‘All they are interested in is taking money" "they must be making a fortune look at all the people through the door."


I was one of them when I was dealing. 

Flip the coin to the other side. Overheads such as rent for the venue, advertising, staff costs, signage, etc. go up year on year and then the dreaded H&S that now has to be adhered to. Whilst I smile and walk by I just think "You have no idea what it takes to get this up and running."


Antiques News & Fairs - B2b Events



ANF:  Was this your first job or did you come from another industry?

HY: My first job was working as a Secretary/Admin Assistant in a Library Service company in London.  Different Secretarial jobs followed until over ten years later I fell into the auction world.

ANF:  There is no denying or escaping the fact that fair organisers and the dealers who exhibit, particularly those on the circuit, have been hit very hard in the current crisis.  What are your thoughts and plans for when we come out the other side? Do you have anything special planned to celebrate your return?

HYYes this year will go down in history, that’s for sure.  Our industry is resilient. Even though this has affected the whole of the world it will bounce back. We all have to adapt. We have already created new floor plans for dealer social distancing and also done new risk assessments for each venue. The inside halls will have less dealers in them and at first we will expect our visitor numbers to be down as well, so its going to be a hard graft to begin with.  We have to stay positive and hope we can get back to an event this year, but it will mean that we will be in the red for some time. Thank goodness for the Government and banks.

There will also be a natural drop off of dealers who wish to stand as they fall into the vulnerable group. They won’t want to risk it, but there are loads of dealers out there who are desperate to get back to work. 

I am so pleased to hear stories of success out there from some of the dealers who stand with us. The lockdown has meant that they have embraced social media or website design to earn money and are being very successful at it, when they didn’t have the time or the inclination before.

What will never disappear is the interaction with customers.

Antiques News & Fairs - B2B Events An Eye on the Calendar




ANF:  Is there anything you will do differently in your business in general when we get through this crisis?

HY: The lockdown has shown us that working from home is viable but not on a full-time basis. Also flexi hours can be worked except when it’s around a fair.

It’s difficult to think of ‘normal’ again.  We are just taking one day at a time and dealing with that.

ANF:  How are you keeping in contact with your exhibitor client base during lockdown?  Have you been able to offer any exposure via your social media platforms?

HY: Our website, social media and newsletters have kept us in contact with our dealers. We are also still on the end of a phone. It has been great to hear from some of the dealers and catch up with their news.

ANF:  How are you running your business from home? Do you have any tips for colleagues?

HY: When we first closed the office each member of staff had a different fair to deal with so we could make sure our dealers were informed as soon as a fair had to be cancelled. Now they are all furloughed expect myself.

You have to be disciplined to get up in the morning and get on with your work. Prioritising jobs and looking at what you can do to ease the workload when the office reopens. Even though the staff are furloughed and can’t work we keep in touch to make sure they are all ok.

ANF:  You organise fairs North of the Border in Edinburgh – do you find there is much difference between the English and Scottish audience?

HY: We have a good following in Edinburgh. The majority of the dealers standing are from Scotland and the Borders with some from different parts of England and a couple from Northern Ireland. As for visitors, they come from far and wide. It’s easy for overseas buyers (or it was) to hop a plane land at the Airport come shopping and hop back.  As ever with this industry if buyers know the goods are there they will travel huge distances to find them.

I have never totally got the ‘I must get in first to get the bargains’. I have found absolute gems on the second day of a fair.

ANF:  What feedback are you getting from your exhibitor clients during the crisis?  How are they surviving without the fairs taking place?

HY: It’s very mixed really.  Some dealers are desperate to get back out on the circuit and will just wait.  Others are finding ways of selling. Some are making good use of the time to sort stock out that has been waiting in the wings for a long time.

Then we have the other side where some are really struggling being quite negative and believing that the industry won’t be back for over a year.  We have to lift these guys and give them purpose.

ANF:  We usually ask our correspondents what they do to relax from their busy schedule but maybe we can ask how you spend your time during lockdown? 

HY: As the only member of staff not furloughed I am quite busy keeping the business going. Without a sun holiday this year I have found the time to get a suntan. Relaxing next to Alan with a book, or writing or just falling asleep. I also have loads of jobs that are still waiting to be carried out, some of which now have a tick alongside them, they have been done.


The next date for B2B Events currently scheduled to take place is Detling Fair on 18-19 July 2020 subject to Government guidelines.  Please check with B2B Events website and ANF Fairs Calendar




News & Fairs Previews

An Eye on the Calendar - Helen Yourston - B2B Events

Continuing our series An Eye on the Calendar we talk to Helen Yourston, Director of the B2B Events

Antiques News & Fairs - B2B Events An Eye on the Calendar

 

An Eye on the Calendar ... Helen Yourston - B2B Events

ANF:  Tell us when you started in the business? 

HY: Back in the 1980’s.

ANF:  What was the journey to your current role?

HY: A varied path. Firstly my then husband and I were collectors of Royal Worcester, and I had a small collection of Carlton Ware. The taxman decided he wanted some money and of course we hadn’t put much by so we raised some revenue by becoming part-time dealers selling at local fairs. At the time my full-time job was working for an auction room in Surrey as receptionist but also getting involved with the Ceramics & Glass section of the sale as well. I somehow found time to also teach a class on antiques at an Adult Education evening class with a friend.  As we sold at the fairs we couldn’t afford to restock with Worcester so went to Carlton Ware, this led us to meet one of the designers from Carlton Ware. We then became full time dealers travelling around the country to the fairs and becoming the largest Carlton Ware dealers in the world (before the internet was born). 

I split up from my then husband and moved up to Newark in 2001 to be with Alan my now husband.  I worked in an auction room in Nottingham before starting B2B Events with Roger Sumner in 2009.


Antiques News & Fairs - B2B Events An Eye on the Calendar



ANF:  What were the main differences in the antiques trade and the fairs circuit then and now?

HY: The internet and certain on-line auction rooms. Suddenly everyone became an ‘expert’ and a dealer. Having said this, as a researcher and historian it did open up a new world of items that were unrecorded or that I hadn’t seen before.  

What I do find very sad is that before the internet we held a Carlton Ware Conference, (we ran the Carlton Ware Collectors Club) once a year. This fell by the wayside as people just didn’t seem to want to meet up anymore. The Club in that form with a quarterly newsletter also closed. Whilst there is a club now it is purely online. Gatherings happen but are small in number and held at various collectors’ houses.

What is very evident at the middle of the range fairs is that we have to move with the times. There of course is still a following for the true antique items but visitors want more than that.  We have to accept a fair where there are collectables, vintage and retro. We need young blood into the business and for them old is the 60s onwards.  We also have to accept the work of designers now. They will be the antiques of the future.

In the early 1970s, 50 years ago, I was just leaving school. To someone who was born in 2000 i.e. 20 this year the 1970s is old, they appreciate what weird and wonderful things we were treating as everyday objects. As we get older we have to broaden our own minds to encompass this new generation.

As an organiser, what I do find funny is the overheard snippets from the dealers are just the same today as they were when I was on the circuit as a dealer. 

"They couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery," ‘All they are interested in is taking money" "they must be making a fortune look at all the people through the door."


I was one of them when I was dealing. 

Flip the coin to the other side. Overheads such as rent for the venue, advertising, staff costs, signage, etc. go up year on year and then the dreaded H&S that now has to be adhered to. Whilst I smile and walk by I just think "You have no idea what it takes to get this up and running."


Antiques News & Fairs - B2b Events



ANF:  Was this your first job or did you come from another industry?

HY: My first job was working as a Secretary/Admin Assistant in a Library Service company in London.  Different Secretarial jobs followed until over ten years later I fell into the auction world.

ANF:  There is no denying or escaping the fact that fair organisers and the dealers who exhibit, particularly those on the circuit, have been hit very hard in the current crisis.  What are your thoughts and plans for when we come out the other side? Do you have anything special planned to celebrate your return?

HYYes this year will go down in history, that’s for sure.  Our industry is resilient. Even though this has affected the whole of the world it will bounce back. We all have to adapt. We have already created new floor plans for dealer social distancing and also done new risk assessments for each venue. The inside halls will have less dealers in them and at first we will expect our visitor numbers to be down as well, so its going to be a hard graft to begin with.  We have to stay positive and hope we can get back to an event this year, but it will mean that we will be in the red for some time. Thank goodness for the Government and banks.

There will also be a natural drop off of dealers who wish to stand as they fall into the vulnerable group. They won’t want to risk it, but there are loads of dealers out there who are desperate to get back to work. 

I am so pleased to hear stories of success out there from some of the dealers who stand with us. The lockdown has meant that they have embraced social media or website design to earn money and are being very successful at it, when they didn’t have the time or the inclination before.

What will never disappear is the interaction with customers.

Antiques News & Fairs - B2B Events An Eye on the Calendar




ANF:  Is there anything you will do differently in your business in general when we get through this crisis?

HY: The lockdown has shown us that working from home is viable but not on a full-time basis. Also flexi hours can be worked except when it’s around a fair.

It’s difficult to think of ‘normal’ again.  We are just taking one day at a time and dealing with that.

ANF:  How are you keeping in contact with your exhibitor client base during lockdown?  Have you been able to offer any exposure via your social media platforms?

HY: Our website, social media and newsletters have kept us in contact with our dealers. We are also still on the end of a phone. It has been great to hear from some of the dealers and catch up with their news.

ANF:  How are you running your business from home? Do you have any tips for colleagues?

HY: When we first closed the office each member of staff had a different fair to deal with so we could make sure our dealers were informed as soon as a fair had to be cancelled. Now they are all furloughed expect myself.

You have to be disciplined to get up in the morning and get on with your work. Prioritising jobs and looking at what you can do to ease the workload when the office reopens. Even though the staff are furloughed and can’t work we keep in touch to make sure they are all ok.

ANF:  You organise fairs North of the Border in Edinburgh – do you find there is much difference between the English and Scottish audience?

HY: We have a good following in Edinburgh. The majority of the dealers standing are from Scotland and the Borders with some from different parts of England and a couple from Northern Ireland. As for visitors, they come from far and wide. It’s easy for overseas buyers (or it was) to hop a plane land at the Airport come shopping and hop back.  As ever with this industry if buyers know the goods are there they will travel huge distances to find them.

I have never totally got the ‘I must get in first to get the bargains’. I have found absolute gems on the second day of a fair.

ANF:  What feedback are you getting from your exhibitor clients during the crisis?  How are they surviving without the fairs taking place?

HY: It’s very mixed really.  Some dealers are desperate to get back out on the circuit and will just wait.  Others are finding ways of selling. Some are making good use of the time to sort stock out that has been waiting in the wings for a long time.

Then we have the other side where some are really struggling being quite negative and believing that the industry won’t be back for over a year.  We have to lift these guys and give them purpose.

ANF:  We usually ask our correspondents what they do to relax from their busy schedule but maybe we can ask how you spend your time during lockdown? 

HY: As the only member of staff not furloughed I am quite busy keeping the business going. Without a sun holiday this year I have found the time to get a suntan. Relaxing next to Alan with a book, or writing or just falling asleep. I also have loads of jobs that are still waiting to be carried out, some of which now have a tick alongside them, they have been done.


The next date for B2B Events currently scheduled to take place is Detling Fair on 18-19 July 2020 subject to Government guidelines.  Please check with B2B Events website and ANF Fairs Calendar