Despite seeing a notice in the entrance saying that the local newspaper, the Carmarthen Journal had published an incorrect date for this foodie weekend, when I visited on Saturday mid morning, it was certainly busy. So well done the National Botanical Gardens, NBG, let me offer you a bouquet for getting punters into the glass house on such a chilly day. I talked to quite a few stands that were running low on stocks or had sold out by early afternoon. I do hope they were as busy on Sunday, as this would be such a good start to the season. I must add though I do wonder how many people would have visited if the NBG had not offered free entry.
But the NBG are also awarded a brickbat to whoever laid out the tradestand area. In such a confined space is was stupid and potentially dangerous to have stands sited opposite each other, especially if they were both sampling, it caused bottle-neck after bottle-neck. Visitor tempers rose when they struggled to get through and the poor parents with push chairs, and toddlers, or families with wheelchairs had a tough time. I saw cheese samples knocked over and no simply no possibility of getting space to clear it up and so lots of chances for someone to slip.
At many events you have professional traders and then amateurs ‘playing at it’ as a hobby or a sideline idea. The amateurs are easy to spot, no business cards, no literature, website or clear company identification or branding. If I’d have had an input, my layout would have been as far as possible to have stands only against the one outside wall. I’d have sited the professionals first and working down to the amateurs and stands just giving out literature. This would have allowed not only people to flow easily through, but given them time to stop, taste, browse and then the crucial purchase. Instead, what actually happened was that at times it was impossible to get through at all and unless you were seven foot tall, not easy to see what the traders were actually selling.
Of course I’ve said that some traders did very well, but for many visitors it was far from enjoyable trying to get through. Another disappointment for me was what I think might have been the NBG’s own café open, not only selling teas and coffees, which no trader was doing, but hot food along with cakes. Mmmm…………..I’m not sure I think that is fair. Surely the objective should be is to get people buying food from the traders and eating it there before going back for more to take home with them – simple isn’t it? I’d love to here your feedback if you were there this weekend.