This year's Bipex - a bit flat?

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Moonraker
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This year's Bipex - a bit flat?

Post by Moonraker » Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:46 pm

I spent Friday at Bipex (as some of us still call the big PC fair at the Royal Horticultural Hall) but found it a bit flat. Because it was only spread over three days this year, I expected more people to be there, but apart from a bit of a crowd around 1400 hours it didn't seem that busy (which is a good thing for the comfort of the collector but perhaps not a healthy sign for the hobby). I overheard several comments from dealers that business wasn't as busy as they had hoped; one muttered about eBay being the cause.

Traditionally I visit only those dealers I haven't seen that year, and in the past this has taken me from 1100 to about 1615, but this year I was all done by 1415 - this despite my not having been to so many fairs in 2007. My purchases were very few, and I saw nothing at all exciting that I already had.

One problem from my point of view is that there were a large number of overseas dealers present - they have nothing to offer me. (Curiously a guy at one stand seemed not to be selling anything but only buying - or hoping to buy, as he seemed to be very lonely.) And many of the home dealers seemed to come from the South East, and so are regulars at the fairs I visit, with apparently fewer unfamiliar traders than usual visiting from further afield in the UK.

I'm just making observations, without criticising. I know that a lot of hard work goes in to the fair, that we need a prestigious national event, and that many collectors have wider interests than mine and welcome being able to view stock from overseas. But from my own narrow viewpoint I think I'll be better off travelling further afield now and then to a big fair held up country.


Moonraker
Last edited by Moonraker on Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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kevinramsdale
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Post by kevinramsdale » Sat Sep 01, 2007 9:40 pm

Thanks for the report. I will be getting some feedback from the "other side" of the table at the Leeds Fair tomorrow, and Nottingham on Monday.

The overall effect of eBay is somewhat uncertain, there are usually only about 40,000 up for auction on the UK site at any one time, though this just about doubles when there is a cheap listing promotion on.

Then there are about 100,000 slowish selling cards in the shops section.

Usually a significant proportion of those attending fairs are eBay sellers looking to buy in cards to well on the internet. They do however favour the "cheap" boxes.

I suppose that on an annual basis there are now a lot of cards being traded on eBay which would at one time have gone through the postcard fair system.
Kevin

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BIPEX 2007

Post by normanfrank » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:31 pm

Very interested in Moonraker's views. I came away with much the same feeling. I looked for unfamiliar (to me) dealers and was delighted to find one who had his cards brilliantly categorised and with boxes that were easy to extract from. Another had a special box, alphabetically arranged, of post-war cards. Well done to him - one of the very rare dealers who has recognised that there are definitely collectors out there whose ages suggest that they are going to be interested in 1950's onwards. I spent quite a lot at both those stalls. One well-known, major dealer's box of my interest was jammed-packed with cards, the plastic so sticky and nasty that I did not persevere. The prices go up, but service remains the same, and it is not good enough in the modern market. I am pleased to see that there are dealers who are aware of their customers and who are trying to improve the ways they present their cards. But there are still too many stuck in ways that I first encountered 15 years ago. I cannot see Postcard Collecting really moving out of its senior age-group profile until there are more, younger, dealers who take customer service really seriously and who understand that customer expectations have changed.

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Post by Andrew » Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:56 am

I did the full three days. :shock: Thursday was busy, but not manic. Friday and Saturday were more restful - and for me, productive (particularly after 3pm when things were quieter).

I came away with 203 postcards in total. When my wife asked me where I was going to put them all, I produced two new albums.

Now to find somewhere to put the albums :lol:

Anyhow, overall I was pleased I did all three days. It gave me time to talk to some of the buyers, as well as the dealers. Had to take rests every 90 mins or so - to ease the back pain.

All the dealers I visited were extremely helpful, although I didn't get to as many this year as I did last year. A big [b]THANK YOU [/b]to all those who made it what it was. It's going to take some time for me to catalogue all my purchases, and despite the complaints from the wife that I neglected her for three days, it was all very worth while.

Great fun - and roll on BIPEX 2008.

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Post by Moonraker » Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:30 am

I've mentioned most of these points before, but the replies above prompt me to repeat them:

1. A significant proportion of dealers appears to be around the senior-citizen mark; I suspect many of them are in the trade for pleasure as well as profit, but there must come a time when they tire of driving all over the place and lugging those boxes in and out of halls. I hope that younger people will take their places.

2. With the advent of eBay, I'm more inclined to buy a card that I think I may have already but am not sure, or a duplicate with a better message or postmark because I can probably sell anything I don't want on-line.

3. A few dealers do need to buck up their ideas, refreshing their dividers, for example.

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Post by Andrew » Mon Sep 03, 2007 12:18 pm

[quote="Moonraker"]
1. A significant proportion of dealers appears to be around the senior-citizen mark; I suspect many of them are in the trade for pleasure as well as profit, but there must come a time when they tire of driving all over the place and lugging those boxes in and out of halls. I hope that younger people will take their places.
[/quote]

It's not just the main proportion of dealers who are at the senior citizen age. This seems to apply to the buyers too.

I saw very few youngsters around. Sadly the prices of most of the cards would put them off - except at the stalls of Lee Roullier (which you had trouble even passing for the entire show) and one or two other dealers who had bargain boxes.

I have to admit to being in early on the Saturday to grab a seat at Lee Roullier's stall, just to have a look at the 25p cards for an hour or so, to see what was available. I gave up the seat after looking through one box, but it was an interesting experience. I can't see how he can make his money with such low prices, but I found a few cards which I added to my collection. Nothing special, but then, what can you expect for 25p.

I've got to start saving for next year, as I could have spent 10 times what I did. I love the thrill at finding a great card.

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Post by reflections » Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:49 pm

Younger dealers? They certainly exist - quite a few in their 30s and 40s, which must qualify for young in the PC hobby. There was a 10-year old dealer at a fair in Scotland last year (independent of her parents) and Nottm PC Fair regularly has a 15-year-old dealer.
As for the age of collectors, there are lots of young people who buy and possibly 'collect' postcards, but they wouldn't necessarily spend a day at a PC fair. Serious collectors of old postcards probably don't usually emerge until 40+ when that feeling of nostalgia kicks in, or 50+ when families have grown up and they have some spare cash.
I should be writing all this stuff in PPM, incidentally!

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Post by Andrew » Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:02 pm

I started collecting vintage postcards in 1978, when I was only 14. That clearly puts me in the "younger" bracket even now. :D

Thank you for the compliment.

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Re: This year's Bipex - a bit flat?

Post by POSTCARDENMARK » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:07 am

Moonraker wrote:One problem from my point of view is that there were a large number of overseas dealers present - they have nothing to offer me. ......., with apparently fewer unfamiliar traders than usual visiting from further afield in the UK.
I'm just making observations, without criticising. I know that a lot of hard work goes in to the fair, that we need a prestigious national event, and that many collectors have wider interests than mine and welcome being able to view stock from overseas. But from my own narrow viewpoint I think I'll be better off travelling further afield now and then to a big fair held up country.
Moonraker
Sorry to be one of those overseas dealers being a problem! :wink:

I do however understand your comments, but don't see the presence of foreign dealers being a problem.
The big problem is that a majority of the British PTA members choose NOT to attend and gain from this great annual event, offering all participating dealers a great opportunity to meet new customers, not only from Britain but also from abroad.
Even the foreign dealers would welcome more British dealers, and love to browse their stocks for cards to bring home.

Please bear in mind that the organising PTA accept foreign dealers as members! We pay the same annual subscribtion fee as our fellow British colleagues, and cover at present a substential part of the expenses making BIPEX possible.
Looking forward to see you next year, we do our best to bring as many worthwhile British cards as we possibly can! :)

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Re: This year's Bipex - a bit flat?

Post by Moonraker » Wed Sep 12, 2007 11:15 am

Postcardenmark:

As I said in my initial post, my opinions were given from my own very narrow viewpoint. I can readily see that for those collectors whose needs are catered for by overseas dealers then the Show is a great occasion. (As luck would have it, the one overseas dealer that might have met my narrow interests had left his relevant stock at home!) I'll be going to the Woking fair next week, and it'll be interesting to see how I get on there, though many of the dealers will have been at Bipex. I've been collecting my theme for 11 years now, and I can recall collectors in the mid-1990s moaning about there not being any good stock around.

On a more general note, how did dealers find business, given that the event was one day shorter?

Moonraker

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Post by tonymckendrick » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:12 pm

I've been waiting to see if anybody else was going to give a candid view of the show this year. I feel like I must have been at a different event.
The first day was very busy until about 4pm, after that I could have been at any provincial fair.
The dealers who went home happy were the ones who had saved up a lot of special cards for the show, plus the foreign dealers generally, who attract certain well heeled customers, and have novelty value in that they are possibly in the UK only once a year with totally different stocks.
For UK dealers who sell postcards for a living (as opposed to part-timers with pensions who can afford to save up their best cards for 6 months or so) this fair is rapidly becoming untenable. Unfortunately, a huge number of dealers who should be supporting this fair will not or can not support it and the buying public are well aware of this. Going from a 4 day to a 3 day fair this year was unavoidable due to the financial implications, but it sent out a subliminal message which was borne out by the attendance.
On a personal note, my takings were 60% down on last year and unless this show is given the most enormous kick up the posterior for 2008 I cannot see it surviving.

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Post by Moonraker » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:59 pm

tonymckendrick wrote: ... The first day was very busy until about 4pm, after that I could have been at any provincial fair.
The dealers who went home happy were the ones who had saved up a lot of special cards for the show, plus the foreign dealers generally, who attract certain well heeled customers, and have novelty value in that they are possibly in the UK only once a year with totally different stocks... On a personal note, my takings were 60% down on last year and unless this show is given the most enormous kick up the posterior for 2008 I cannot see it surviving.
Tony: you confirm some of my fears; at Woking on Friday I heard another well-known dealer voice similar sentiments to that in your last sentence. As I said in my initial post, I have a very narrow perspective, but I don't think I would miss it, but then I'm very well served by larger provincial fairs in the western Home Counties.


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