Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Spring Fair at the NEC. For those who haven't experienced the fun of Spring Fair - and you really should - it's one of the biggest trade shows in the world, which showcases the widest possible range of gifts, home wear, jewellery and just about anything else you might sometime have wanted.
My connection with Spring Fair goes back to the 1990's, when I was responsible for organising the stand for a couple of employers. But although I've long since moved out of that specific industry, I've maintained a soft spot for Spring Fair and go as often as I can to soak up it's special atmosphere.
I think that what has always thrilled me about it, is the terrific mix of businesses you see there. Everyone, from the major international companies to start-up one man bands, and everyone has the opportunity to show off their goods.
If you want a lesson in stand dressing, just spend a few hours walking the halls and you'll have masses of inspiration. It never ceases to amaze me how well some companies manage to present their products - it really is an art form, even though transitory - in just a few days it will all disappear.
I'm always on the look-out for signs of good and bad exhibition practice, but I have to say that yesterday I was particularly impressed. Perhaps because it's early days - it doesn't end until Thursday afternoon - stand staff were still fresh and smiling, but I have to say that the welcome being exuded from most stands was almost palpable.
I took a friend with me on her first visit to Spring Fair yesterday, so it was interesting to hear her opinion of the event. After her initial taking aback by the sheer scale of the show, she was struck by the way in which you begin to see trends emerging across different markets.
Heaven knows how buyers navigate the show, but I do hope for the people who've invested so much time, effort and money into this year's Spring Fair, that it's the start of some excellent, long-term and profitable business relationships.