Our first event...at last!!
When we booked a pitch at The Blenheim Palace Flower Show in February 2020 we didn't expect it to be almost 18 months before we got there, but it was well worth the wait this weekend! We had a great time meeting customers old and new, connecting with other small businesses and generally spending time in a buzzing atmosphere after a long time away!
We were originally approached by the event organisers back in 2019 when some last-minute spots had opened up, but weren't quite ready for a show of that size then. However, we decided that attending events was going to be important for us to spread the word and grow our business so signed up for the show in February 2020, and planned to sign up for several more that year. Then Covid-19 hit and, like everybody else, plans had to change!
It was quickly apparent that the show wouldn't be going ahead in 2020 and it looked unlikely that much else would be happening events-wise that year. Although it was disappointing that we weren't going to be able to move forward with our plan, our focus quickly shifted to online sales and deliveries when demand picked up during the first lockdown last year. For 12 months from March 2020 and through multiple lockdowns, these online sales and deliveries kept us incredibly busy and were a very welcome distraction.
As restrictions began to ease in mid-April and the general picture started improving we were able to start (cautiously!) re-thinking about events, beginning with The Blenheim Palace Flower Show. The organisers had kept everyone's spaces from 2020 open, so we were guaranteed a spot if the show went ahead.
Although things had been looking more positive for a couple of months, due to the timing of Government announcements we only knew for sure what the event would look like less than 2 weeks before the start. It was a busy couple of weeks ensuring we had all the necessary equipment and supplies as well as planning staffing and logistics to cover the 3 days. We're a small team so ensuring we had this covered as well as being able to keep online orders and local cafes supplied was a juggling act!
When the day arrived we were up at 4:30am on the Friday to load stock from our unit and be on the road to Oxford by 6am to get to the venue in plenty of time for set up. It was a relief when the gates opened at 10am and we were able to get on with the show!
On our stall we had a mixture of old and new products. We took some of our most popular existing flavours (Classic Brownie, Salted Caramel Brownie, Chocolate Orange Brownie, Classic Blondie, M&M Brownie, Nutella Blondie, Vegan Classic and Vegan Salted Caramel) as well as a couple of brand new ones (a Raspberry Blondie and a Coffee & Caramel Brownie). We also had our new fully branded boxes on show (available to buy as mixed boxes of 8 flavours), our popular Brownie Eggs from our Father's Day range and our new bags of ground coffee beans (our specially created Fudgy Brownie blend).
It was great to let people sample the products and get feedback right there and then. Our Classic Brownie and Salted Caramel Brownie were incredibly popular as usual, but our 2 new flavours also went down very well and we got lots of lovely compliments about our vegan brownies. Our Brownie Eggs had completely sold out by Saturday lunchtime too! We also learnt that children make the best tasters, as they pull no punches when giving you feedback!
The event was a family affair across the weekend with Laura and Charlie (our son) manning the stall on Friday. It was an 8pm finish on Friday, time for a few hours sleep and then another 4:30am start on Saturday to re-stock from the unit! This time it was over to Adam and Charlie to man the stall with Laura baking more for Sunday's event. Adam and Charlie had the luxury of a later 5:30am start on Sunday for the final day!
The highlight of the event was undoubtedly getting the chance to meet so many great people. We were fortunate enough to be between 2 seasoned exhibitors: Crafty Wolf selling their amazing rum and The Cherry Tree with their huge range of preserves and chutneys. We were lucky to leave the show with a number of products from them to try in some new brownie flavours, such as passionfruit curd and caramel rum, so watch this space for those! They left with some brownies in exchange of course!
As well as the fellow exhibitors we met lots of new customers and are very grateful to those that have reached out to us since. It was also amazing to meet some customers who have been buying from us online in recent times - it's always lovely to put faces to names! In very typical 2021 fashion we also got to meet a corporate customer in person for the first time after we'd been regularly speaking to them over Zoom for almost a year!
Overall we had a really enjoyable few days and can't wait to return next year! In the meantime we'll be filling up the calendar with other events for 2021, starting with Wallop Wheels and Wings in Middle Wallop, Hampshire this coming Saturday (3rd July). We'll keep everyone posted with the events we'll be attending and hopefully we'll have the opportunity to see you at one very soon!!