The speed has bemused even me.
There I was at a fair seeing myself as a dealer who loaded and unloaded his stock into his (very un)trusty old van several times a month and hit the road. Just like I did only last weekend.
And now here I am a dealer who doesn't do fairs at all but is online and (going to) be in two centres.
I'm pausing to catch my breath.
I have been reading a lot recently about fairs: I saw them called the mainstay of any dealer these days. And there are hundreds of them (fairs, that is), maybe thousands in a year.
I've also seen the article in the papers that Antiques have enjoyed their best month since 2006.
I've mentioned this a lot to many dealer friends and acquaintances, and literally no one believes it. So all I can say is that everything else must have contracted to an earth-shattering degree in comparison: antiques can't go much further down - it simply won't be worth trading the middle ground stuff anymore if it contracts again. There just won't be enough to run vehicles etc. Or maybe the figure has been distorted by a few sales of very high quality pieces: premium items are always less affected than the middle ground, where I tread. But I am here to confirm that antiques dealers in the main are worried: the signs are not good.
Anyway, that matters not really: I've done the maths and watched the take from fairs go up and then gradually down again. If it was just me I'd simply think it was my stock, but it isn't just me.
So the writing has been on the wall for a while. Finally I've cleaned my varifocals and spotted it. The bell has tolled.
I don't know what it is, and I am aware that where I live has had a difficult impact, but that shouldn't affect fairs that are all over the country; from Yorkshire to Somerset, but it has.
No, in large part I blame Brexit. Any wilful act of such serious self harm to a country is going to have a negative impact. But even if you believe it isn't self-harm (but you are wrong: it is), I suspect you will agree that the current foetid political climate has contributed to a deep sense of unease and uncertainty. And with that lack of confidence in the future comes a lack of spending. Again I reiterate: I am concerned with middle-ground pieces, not high-end. Much as I'd love to be in that category I'm not that up myself. Middle of the road. Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep*.
The former has not yet opened but I have high hopes it will be lovely, and it will include a café.
The latter is open and ticking along nicely: a good place to visit and with something around 80/85 dealers offering a variety of everything from antiques through to the products of local makers including jewellery and ceramics. What's more, its coupled with a very nice café/restaurant.
If a good day out for you includes a decent coffee and lunch or cake plus a wide variety of things to look at and buy, or if you're in need of something specific that will make your place that bit better, then for now, the Malthouse is the one.
I'll be sure to post something about Antique Village when it opens in the next few (single figures) weeks.
* Sorry: terrible cheep cheep joke