Antiques News & Fairs
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ANF Blog

In Conversation with Gary Wallis of The Henley Decor Fair

Continuing our In Conversation series we talk to TV salvage expert, dealer and fair organiser Gary Wallis. Many of you will know Gary from TV's Salvage Hunters and Restoration Workshop, but recently - having been dealing for many years - he decided to put his hand to fair organising. Two years in, The Henley Decor Fair is a huge success and unique within the industry for its festival feel.

 

Gary Wallis

Gary Wallis

 

ANF: What got you interested in antiques and led you into the industry?

GW: Many years ago I was very much a collector - dinky toys, lead soldiers then music and vinyl; Old soul R&B, Motown etc - and there comes a point at which the things you most desire are hard to find, you have to search and pay, and thereby a dealer is born! From thereon in your knowledge becomes your skill and buying and selling becomes your job.

From small acorns oak trees are formed and I’ve applied this to every field I have dealt in, from militaria and furniture to art and architectural salvage. The areas I have traded in are very diverse.

I now consider myself un-employable and therefore I indulge myself in all the things I most enjoy, within the world of antiques. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle!

 



ANF: How did you get into television?

GW: I had been approached on a number of occasions over the years to be involved with TV projects, but the shows in discussion didn’t feel right. However, I agreed to be featured on Salvage Hunters with long-time friend Drew Pritchard, and the Henley-on-Thames show was a great success. One of the producers kept in touch and eventually we came up with the format for Restoration Workshop.

I have really enjoyed working with the Restoration Workshop team and we have now completed ten episodes, with further potential projects in the pipeline.

 

 

ANF: What were your key motivations for setting up Henley Decor Fair?

GW: I’ve had various shops and warehouses and been buying and selling at Ardingly Antiques Fair and Newark for many years. I have also had the good fortune to be involved with some renowned events such as The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair and The Bath Decorative Fair. In recent years I worked alongside Thornton Kay on Salvo, an architectural salvage and reclamation event at Knebworth House and then with Sir William and Lady McAlpine on their estate at Fawley. Sir William McAlpine very sadly passed away and Lady McAlpine made the difficult, but understandable, decision to retire from the event.

My dream has always been to bring together all the things I love about the trade and create an event I would want to go to. I appreciate the incredible hard work that goes into sourcing, restoring and presenting for sale rare and interesting wares so I wanted an event that both the dealers and the buyers would enjoy.


HDF2021-5716

 

ANF: For those that haven’t been to the fair yet, can you describe the atmosphere and the offering from exhibitors?

GW: The Henley Decor Fair is more than just a point of sale, it’s an inspiring, fun, lifestyle event with a festival feel. Up to 180 of the country’s leading decorative antique, art and architectural salvage dealers save their very best stock for the event. Meanwhile, guests can also enjoy live music, great food and bars all on the beautiful banks of the River Thames. The stunning setting takes some beating!

HDF2021-5999

 

 


ANF:
How has the pandemic affected your business and how do you see the next year panning out for the fairs industry?

GW: After having found a fabulous new site and started marketing the first event in May 2020, many dealers signed up only for the event to be postponed due to the first lockdown. They were uncertain times indeed!

We postponed it until September, and with amazing support from the trade, the event was a great success. The event finished in the nick of time on the Sunday, before Boris Johnson announced the second lockdown on the Monday. We persevered and everyone rallied to make the next event in May 2021, just out of lockdown, the best event yet. We experienced record sales and incredible footfall.

Since the Covid pandemic, Henley Decor Fair has become a bi-annual event in Spring and Autumn. May 2022 will be the first time we should experience some normality. Judging by the number and calibre of exhibitors, plus the progressing ticket sales, this showcase event has weathered the storm and the future looks very bright. Henley Decor Fair has fast become a landmark event and we are receiving plenty of interest from fantastic potential partners. We are thrilled to have just announced Knight Frank, the UK’s leading independent real estate agency, as our new main sponsor.


Aerial_HDF

 

ANF: Tell us about the new Henley HQ

GW: As the event has grown, so has the Henley Decor Fair team! We desperately needed not only a working office where we could get our heads together, but also a showcase for the fair - a war room and exhibition so to speak! Many of our dealers have displayed and sold pieces at Henley Decor Fair HQ and often pop in to deal and discuss. The showroom is open by appointment and for ticket collections leading up to the event. We’ve also been known to have the occasional social gathering for all our dealers!

 

 

ANF: Lastly, we always ask our conversation partners how they manage to relax outside our hardworking industry schedule?

GW: Now there’s a question! I’m not sure I relax much in the lead up to the fair, there’s just too much to organise. At the event I can relax at the Trade Ball on the Friday evening, which is always a fun event and a chance to catch up properly with friends, old and new. But generally, a decent glass of red whilst drawing and painting or simply chilling out on a beach is glorious too!

 

www.henleydecorfair.com
Follow The Henley Decor Fair on Instagram here



Antiques News Blog

In Conversation with Gary Wallis of The Henley Decor Fair

Continuing our In Conversation series we talk to TV salvage expert, dealer and fair organiser Gary Wallis. Many of you will know Gary from TV's Salvage Hunters and Restoration Workshop, but recently - having been dealing for many years - he decided to put his hand to fair organising. Two years in, The Henley Decor Fair is a huge success and unique within the industry for its festival feel.

 

Gary Wallis

Gary Wallis

 

ANF: What got you interested in antiques and led you into the industry?

GW: Many years ago I was very much a collector - dinky toys, lead soldiers then music and vinyl; Old soul R&B, Motown etc - and there comes a point at which the things you most desire are hard to find, you have to search and pay, and thereby a dealer is born! From thereon in your knowledge becomes your skill and buying and selling becomes your job.

From small acorns oak trees are formed and I’ve applied this to every field I have dealt in, from militaria and furniture to art and architectural salvage. The areas I have traded in are very diverse.

I now consider myself un-employable and therefore I indulge myself in all the things I most enjoy, within the world of antiques. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle!

 



ANF: How did you get into television?

GW: I had been approached on a number of occasions over the years to be involved with TV projects, but the shows in discussion didn’t feel right. However, I agreed to be featured on Salvage Hunters with long-time friend Drew Pritchard, and the Henley-on-Thames show was a great success. One of the producers kept in touch and eventually we came up with the format for Restoration Workshop.

I have really enjoyed working with the Restoration Workshop team and we have now completed ten episodes, with further potential projects in the pipeline.

 

 

ANF: What were your key motivations for setting up Henley Decor Fair?

GW: I’ve had various shops and warehouses and been buying and selling at Ardingly Antiques Fair and Newark for many years. I have also had the good fortune to be involved with some renowned events such as The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair and The Bath Decorative Fair. In recent years I worked alongside Thornton Kay on Salvo, an architectural salvage and reclamation event at Knebworth House and then with Sir William and Lady McAlpine on their estate at Fawley. Sir William McAlpine very sadly passed away and Lady McAlpine made the difficult, but understandable, decision to retire from the event.

My dream has always been to bring together all the things I love about the trade and create an event I would want to go to. I appreciate the incredible hard work that goes into sourcing, restoring and presenting for sale rare and interesting wares so I wanted an event that both the dealers and the buyers would enjoy.


HDF2021-5716

 

ANF: For those that haven’t been to the fair yet, can you describe the atmosphere and the offering from exhibitors?

GW: The Henley Decor Fair is more than just a point of sale, it’s an inspiring, fun, lifestyle event with a festival feel. Up to 180 of the country’s leading decorative antique, art and architectural salvage dealers save their very best stock for the event. Meanwhile, guests can also enjoy live music, great food and bars all on the beautiful banks of the River Thames. The stunning setting takes some beating!

HDF2021-5999

 

 


ANF:
How has the pandemic affected your business and how do you see the next year panning out for the fairs industry?

GW: After having found a fabulous new site and started marketing the first event in May 2020, many dealers signed up only for the event to be postponed due to the first lockdown. They were uncertain times indeed!

We postponed it until September, and with amazing support from the trade, the event was a great success. The event finished in the nick of time on the Sunday, before Boris Johnson announced the second lockdown on the Monday. We persevered and everyone rallied to make the next event in May 2021, just out of lockdown, the best event yet. We experienced record sales and incredible footfall.

Since the Covid pandemic, Henley Decor Fair has become a bi-annual event in Spring and Autumn. May 2022 will be the first time we should experience some normality. Judging by the number and calibre of exhibitors, plus the progressing ticket sales, this showcase event has weathered the storm and the future looks very bright. Henley Decor Fair has fast become a landmark event and we are receiving plenty of interest from fantastic potential partners. We are thrilled to have just announced Knight Frank, the UK’s leading independent real estate agency, as our new main sponsor.


Aerial_HDF

 

ANF: Tell us about the new Henley HQ

GW: As the event has grown, so has the Henley Decor Fair team! We desperately needed not only a working office where we could get our heads together, but also a showcase for the fair - a war room and exhibition so to speak! Many of our dealers have displayed and sold pieces at Henley Decor Fair HQ and often pop in to deal and discuss. The showroom is open by appointment and for ticket collections leading up to the event. We’ve also been known to have the occasional social gathering for all our dealers!

 

 

ANF: Lastly, we always ask our conversation partners how they manage to relax outside our hardworking industry schedule?

GW: Now there’s a question! I’m not sure I relax much in the lead up to the fair, there’s just too much to organise. At the event I can relax at the Trade Ball on the Friday evening, which is always a fun event and a chance to catch up properly with friends, old and new. But generally, a decent glass of red whilst drawing and painting or simply chilling out on a beach is glorious too!

 

www.henleydecorfair.com
Follow The Henley Decor Fair on Instagram here