Thus spake me one day in Florence about fourteen years ago to Eva as we spent more and more time snapping up the cool, cheap clothes and other goods, and less and less time in the galleries.
We finally got home with 80 Kgs of the stuff to somewhat alarmed airport security guards – there was a small tank outside the airport and Gulf War I was on. (Eva has just turned up insisting that half of the luggage was books like Vogue Magazine. No I lie. It was Greek editions of Vogue Magazine).
I was reminded of this today as we headed off to the Reed Gift Fare in Melbourne.
I discovered this yesterday as I walked past “Jeff’s Shed” the big space designed (I think) by Denton Corker Marshall. It’s quite nice if brutally utilitarian as exhibition spaces must be. Actually that’s dead wrong, they don’t have to be that way as is demonstrated by the other great exhibition space in Melbourne the Exhibition Building. But I digress.
Seeing a ‘gift fare’ I thought that this would be a fine adventure and that I might be able to find some natty ‘corporate style’ gifts for Peach Home Loans to demonstrate its largess. So in I went.
Then the retail Nazi’s struck.
I had to ‘register’. No problem. I asked what the cost was. The answer ‘nothing’. But I wasn’t allowed to be a mere member of the public. Was I here as a ‘trade buyer’? Well, as it turned out I was. No problem! I was buying for that venerable institution Peach Home Loans. Could I prove it. I needed ID. So out came by Peach Home Loans business card. But I needed two bits of ID. Rules are rules as you would understand. Then the lady serving me pointed to the Peach cap on my head. Voila two bits of ID.
Inside were literally about four or five hundred little stands with all the things that those gift shops have when you go into them only for about 20-50% of the prices you are used to in the shops! But they were not for sale. But I was told if I came back the next day today some stalls would be cleaning up and clearing stock. They were ‘allowed’ to sell after 12 noon.
Once again, like the good old days – Mammon called. Eva and I turned up at 2 pm. I took my registration from yesterday. Now yesterday they had signs up saying that a registered ‘bona fide’ trade buyer could admit a guest. But when we turned up today they told us (with barely concealed triumph) that this rule was changed today. No guests. So I tried to register Eva. Nope. New registrations were verboten after 12 noon.
So Eva and I had to take it in turns to go into the hall and buy stuff. I bought lots of different pairs of very groovy cufflinks that would cost around $99-150 a pair in the shops (depending on the chutzpah of the proprietor) for a mere $14.95 each. Some truly lovely colourfull dolls and statues for $6 to $8 each. Anna my daughter gets a clown, and my Mum (a farmer) gets a harlequin coloured china cow. I guess that might sound kitch (which is no big objection) but it isn’t it’s just cute and colourful.
Alexander got a pretty serious telescope at about half price. It’s for Christmas but since on August 27th Mars will be 34,649,589 miles away as close as it has been for 5,000 years and it won’t come that close again in the lifetime of anyone living today, he may get it sooner.*
Then when going out of the hall the guard demanded to see my receipts. Well I didn’t have any. He wouldn’t let me out of the place without the receipts. Or a business card. (Virtually every stand had been trying to foist a business card on each and every visitor). So I took out a business card, and Bob was my uncle.
Those wholesalers didn’t have a chance!
So put together a story, get a business card and some letterhead (or a cap!) and enjoy yourself at the Sydney function. Then it will be, as they say “only 90 days to go before Christmas!”
* Roughly right claim – wrong year as you can see from this site. A rogue Powerpoint slide was doing the rounds of Alex’s school.