Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Retail Department

The Springridge staff is still busy preparing for the 2012 season, even though the farm is closed for the winter! Aside from cleaning and setting up the farm market, we’re hard at work making jams, chutneys, sauces and pastry from scratch. One of our favourite events during the winter is the Canadian Gift and Tableware Association Show. The annual show is a fantastic opportunity for our retail team to meet with existing suppliers, scout out new merchandising ideas and most of all go shopping for our store! So, if you’re curious about what it’s like to be a Springridge merchandise scout at a trade show with more than one million square feet of exhibition space, we present you with…

A Day in the Life of a Springridge Scout

We start our day at 8am, carpooling to the Congress Centre in Toronto. When we arrive, we obtain our Gift Show ID badges and begin sifting through the guidebook. As we walk the aisles of the show, we pass by complimentary massage stations, tearooms and concessions. There’s no time to stop for these luxuries, but we do make note of a delicious food court with taco salads…we’ll be back for lunch!

We’re searching for the latest trends in home d├ęcor like bright colours, Reallite candles, rustic wood pieces and interesting wall art. We’re also combing through the exhibits for Canadian-made merchandise because we are always looking to further our commitment to the ‘buy local’ movement.

While visiting some companies we already work with and checking out their new merchandise for spring, we constantly make notes about interesting items we could introduce to Springridge customers.

“What about cast iron teapots? They’re beautiful, functional and last a lifetime!”

“Rustic paddle wall hanging – great for the cottage.”

“New distressed white framing option for pictures at art company…nice for light, neutral decorating.”

Just before lunch, we step into the Abbott Giftware booth – a company we know well! In fact, there are nine skids of Abbott merchandise waiting for us to unpack back at the barn! This exhibit is where everyone wants to be: pop music, doughnuts, strawberry infused water and sparkly Abbott swag.

In the afternoon, we are on a mission to find new Canadian-made merchandise. We head over to the International Centre and discover an exciting new company from the Waterloo region. We collect the product details and a catalogue for future reference. The company makes colourful metal wall art and planter stakes – perfect for gardening season!

We say hello to an exhibitor who make hats out of Canadian wool socks and visit with another vendor who refashions barn board into furniture. We’ve gathered information from jewellery suppliers and forecasted the trends for Halloween and Christmas. We are armed with new business cards, catalogues, DVDs and ideas to take back to the buyers at the farm!

At 6pm, we depart the show, buzzing about our favourite findings from the day. Next up on the agenda is to present our Gift Show “hot list” to the Springridge buyers: Farmer Laura, Amy and Susan!

We can’t wait to re-open in April with the 19th century barn all decked out for spring!