|The UK antique fair scene
with Peter Borrett
I primarily visit the larger fairs on the basis of there being more stall holders, more choice & ultimately, more
opportunities to uncover some great finds. In reality though, the Corkscrew addict will encounter tough
competition from other eager collectors & dealers to find the bargains. What is frustrating at the larger fairs, is
the trading on the set up day. The organisers do state "strictly no trading until the official start of the fair" but
nothing is done to stop the traders checking out each others stock & ultimately buying it! The keenest collector
could also get this opportunity but would have to find around £80.00, the price of the cheapest pitch, to do so.
To visit the major fairs on the first official day (trade day), will cost somewhere between £10.00 & £20.00 for
entry. It also pays to consider starting early. Newark for example has as many as 4000 stalls to view! The old
saying of "The early bird catches the worm" hasn't yet worked for me, no great finds have resulted in arriving in
the dark. However, I always manage to get round the stalls & seem to get away without hitting the rush hour
traffic, two considerations that make the early start worthwhile.
You've paid your entrance fee, 4000 stalls are waiting for you to view, your heart is pumping & you're ready to
shop. STOP! At this point, I would advise any first time visitor to plan a route around the fair. These fairs are on
a massive scale & it's very easy to lose you way. Ask a steward for a site plan or for some verbal guidance. If you
have a site plan, cross off areas once you've covered them. Planning your route will only take a few minutes but
will save you repeatedly visiting the same stalls.
Yippee!!! It's time to start shopping. Probably around 10% of stall holders will have some Corkscrews for you to
look at & consider. Unfortunately the majority of stall holders don't know what they have & tend to price their
items very high. Thankfully, others are more realistic. I generally purchase one Corkscrew per 100 stalls as an
OK, so you've found something of interest. Take your time to inspect it very carefully, checking it's authenticity,
look for repairs & consider the overall condition. Have in mind what your best offer would be on the item. Some
stall holders price their items, others don't. If there's no price, you obviously need to find out what the vendor
wants. You may faint when you find out or alternatively be pleasantly surprised. The stall holders will expect you
to haggle & may price the item higher for this reason. Whatever you do don't forget to haggle! I've saved as
much as 75% on the ticket price through a good haggle & it's great fun doing it.
When I'm contemplating any purchase, I always consider if I could sell it on at a profit, even if it's something
specifically for my collection that I'm desperate for. That philosophy has worked really well for me & could do for
Helpful links for the major fairs - good hunting!
The organisers claim that there's a buzz around Swinderby & I agree. With up to 3000 stalls, this antique fair
offers collectibles of every conceivable type. The layout is quite straightforward, being easy to navigate without
getting lost. Two enormous runways are normally full to capacity with stall holders. The gangways are wide,
allowing easy passage without forever getting in other peoples way. There is also a vast tented area which
includes a series of marquees. The stewards at Swinderby are easy to find, always seem friendly & are very
helpful. Parking is straightforward & the facilities on site are very good. It costs £10.00 to get in on the first day
(from 7.00 a.m.) which is a good deal, excellent value for money. A great day out. You'll find two Corkscrew
dealers at this fair.
~ Newark - The largest Antiques & Collectors Fair in Europe ~
Newark is massive! It holds up to 4,000 stalls arranged in seven permanent buildings, 200 individual shopping
arcades, 50 marquees and more than 1,600 outside pitches. It's well sign posted within the fair, but tricky to
navigate until you get used to the surroundings. Plenty of refreshments are available all over the site & like
Swinderby, the stewards are easy to find & very helpful. It costs £20.00 admission on the first day (from 5.00 a.
m.). The ticket entitles you to free entry on day two & three. Newark is a truly international event with buyers and
sellers from all over the World – and recognised as the number one fair in Europe. You'll find between three &
four Corkscrew dealers at Newark. Another great day out.