John's Jottings

142. The Micro-exhibition - April 2018

Posted on March 31, 2018 at 3:05 PM

Last week Jim told us about a minor show he’d recently visited. We’d seen notices in the magazines for this show for a number of years, but none of us had actually attended one. Jim told us that at times the place was packed solid, which aroused our interest. Had we been missing a good show for all those years?


“When I got there I found the exhibition was in the ground floor rooms of a house that was the headquarters of a charity,” Jim told us. “For the weekend of the exhibition, office equipment had been piled up or taken outside, and just four layouts and a trader crammed in.”


“Four layouts!” Paul exclaimed. “That hardly constitutes an exhibition.”


“I’ve nothing against small shows,” Jim continued, “but you could describe this one a micro-exhibition. ‘Layouts in N, H0, 00 and 0’ is what their publicity announced. And that’s exactly what there was - just one small layout in each scale. So the publicity certainly wasn’t inaccurate, even if it was a tad misleading.


“The thing was,” Jim went on, "most of the time they were really short of visitors."


“But you said it was packed,” Jane teased him.


“Ah, yes,” Jim responded. “I was told by one of the guest exhibitors that there had been about a couple of dozen on the Saturday. By the time I left on the Sunday, there had been five, and that includes me. In each room it was a case of first in last out, all movements carried out in single file. But that only happened when there was a surge in admissions. That is, when there were more than three visitors packed in at any one time.


“During one of the many lulls, one of the operators alleviated his boredom by going out for a walk around the area. He told me he’d particularly looked for posters and direction signs. He went into the local newsagents. There were notices for a slimming club, Guides, yoga classes and a craft fair, but nothing about the exhibition being held just round the corner. He enquired why not. They told him nobody had asked them to put up a poster.


“As for catering. Jim went on, “a hot dog van had been invited. It stood on the street outside, blocking sight of the posters in the front bay windows.”


“If a casual visitor happened to come across the exhibition, would he be impressed?” Graham asked. “On the basis of that event, would he want to go to any other model railway show? Was this show actually doing a disservice to the hobby?”


“One couple had come some distance to attend, as had one of the exhibitors,” Jim told us. “They were all very polite, but I could tell that they considered it to have been a waste of time and petrol. During conversation, another exhibitor quietly advised me not to come again, never mind accept an invitation bring a layout.”


“Would it be correct to say that visitors got individual attention?” our chairman asked, trying to find a positive. Jim agreed he was. Indeed, Jim had been invited to take the controls of three of the layouts. That was the only reason he had stayed for the whole morning.


“Would the number of dissatisfied customers affect potential attendances at other shows in the area?” our chairman asked. We decided it probably wouldn’t.

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