Antiques News & Fairs
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ANF Blog

In conversation with Chris Brown of Grandma's Attic Fairs

Continuing our In Conversation series we talk to fair organiser Chris Brown, who runs Grandma's Attic Fairs with his partner Geoff Fagan. A second generation dealer, Chris started out in the music industry and ran nightclubs and record shops before moving on to antiques fairs. We find out more about the successful business and his plans for the future.

 

Grandmas Attic Antiques Fair2

 

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

CB: My parents were antique dealers, and one of my earliest memories is being taken around antique shops & fairs. I was buying & selling in my teens and one of my first jobs from school was a work experience placement at Riddetts Auction Rooms in Bournemouth, I then worked for a while with a Philatelist that ran stamp fairs across the UK. All through my life I have had a fascination with buying & selling.



ANF
: We hear that you have a background in nightclubs - tell us about that! How did you evolve from the life of a night owl to early morning wake-ups for fairs?

CB: In my late teens I started DJing and over the course of the next two decades I worked within the music industry - DJing in the UK and around the world and then moving into music production. I was lucky enough to produce tracks that entered the Australian charts & the US billboard charts, as well as producing remixes for S Club 7, Martine McCutcheon & Atomic Kitten to name a few. During this time myself & my partner Geoff opened a number of record shops and then moved into Club Promotion.

At the moment I still run club nights for the Student Union in Bournemouth, but you will very rarely see me in a nightclub now! I just work out the logistics and thankfully have a good bunch of staff around me for the rest.



A Grandmas Attic Antiques Fair

ANF: Grandma’s Attic Fairs has been running for over 30 years - what is the key to its success?

CB: The GA fairs brand was originally founded in the mid 80s by Ken & Valerie Sleeney, and after Ken’s passing, Valerie was kind enough to pass it onto us. It was always a successful brand and we hope we have done it justice.

We have an amazing group of stallholders, many of whom have now become close friends.
We have since expanded the brand by also taking over the Winchester Fair (originally run by Magnum Fairs) from AVCR events, and three years ago acquiring Emmott Promotions.

 

ANF: The company was previously owned by Emmott Promotions. What interested you in their portfolio of fairs?

CB: We purchased Emmott Promotions from Lesley Kelley (Ron Emmott’s daughter) as it had a fantastic reputation, Lesley’s father had been running fairs across the South Coast since 1969, and it was a very strong brand. They were holding very popular fairs in Chichester, Midhurst & Fareham.


Grandmas Attic


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

CB: That is a difficult question. We were very lucky that during the pandemic we had other income streams, so we were ok. We were very late re-starting our fairs, as we wanted to see how other organisers coped with the restrictions. When we finally opened up again I must say they were fantastic, footfall was great and many stallholders reported record takings.

We did notice that for the fairs we had on the run up to Christmas 2021, attendance was fairly low - we believe that customers and stallholders were just being extra careful so as not jeopardise their Christmas. But so far this year, attendance has been amazing.

 

ANF: What plans are in the pipeline for Grandma’s Attic?

CB: We launched a new fair at Woking Leisure Centre in February this year, which was a huge success. We are planning on holding four a year at the venue and we are also looking at a few new areas for 2023. They will be announced as soon as confirmed, watch this space!

 

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

CB: We do not get that much free time - we have a number of units in antique centres in Dorset, so they have to be re-stocked regularly, and I also work as a consultant for Cottees Auction Rooms in Poole running their Poole Pottery Auction and some of their other specialist auctions.


If we are lucky enough to have time free, we can usually be found either away visiting other fairs on buying trips, or visiting historic houses & gardens, we try to take a few weeks off in July & August so that we can completely relax.


Grandmas Attic 3

www.grandmasatticfairs.co.uk



Antiques News Blog

In conversation with Chris Brown of Grandma's Attic Fairs

Continuing our In Conversation series we talk to fair organiser Chris Brown, who runs Grandma's Attic Fairs with his partner Geoff Fagan. A second generation dealer, Chris started out in the music industry and ran nightclubs and record shops before moving on to antiques fairs. We find out more about the successful business and his plans for the future.

 

Grandmas Attic Antiques Fair2

 

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

CB: My parents were antique dealers, and one of my earliest memories is being taken around antique shops & fairs. I was buying & selling in my teens and one of my first jobs from school was a work experience placement at Riddetts Auction Rooms in Bournemouth, I then worked for a while with a Philatelist that ran stamp fairs across the UK. All through my life I have had a fascination with buying & selling.



ANF
: We hear that you have a background in nightclubs - tell us about that! How did you evolve from the life of a night owl to early morning wake-ups for fairs?

CB: In my late teens I started DJing and over the course of the next two decades I worked within the music industry - DJing in the UK and around the world and then moving into music production. I was lucky enough to produce tracks that entered the Australian charts & the US billboard charts, as well as producing remixes for S Club 7, Martine McCutcheon & Atomic Kitten to name a few. During this time myself & my partner Geoff opened a number of record shops and then moved into Club Promotion.

At the moment I still run club nights for the Student Union in Bournemouth, but you will very rarely see me in a nightclub now! I just work out the logistics and thankfully have a good bunch of staff around me for the rest.



A Grandmas Attic Antiques Fair

ANF: Grandma’s Attic Fairs has been running for over 30 years - what is the key to its success?

CB: The GA fairs brand was originally founded in the mid 80s by Ken & Valerie Sleeney, and after Ken’s passing, Valerie was kind enough to pass it onto us. It was always a successful brand and we hope we have done it justice.

We have an amazing group of stallholders, many of whom have now become close friends.
We have since expanded the brand by also taking over the Winchester Fair (originally run by Magnum Fairs) from AVCR events, and three years ago acquiring Emmott Promotions.

 

ANF: The company was previously owned by Emmott Promotions. What interested you in their portfolio of fairs?

CB: We purchased Emmott Promotions from Lesley Kelley (Ron Emmott’s daughter) as it had a fantastic reputation, Lesley’s father had been running fairs across the South Coast since 1969, and it was a very strong brand. They were holding very popular fairs in Chichester, Midhurst & Fareham.


Grandmas Attic


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

CB: That is a difficult question. We were very lucky that during the pandemic we had other income streams, so we were ok. We were very late re-starting our fairs, as we wanted to see how other organisers coped with the restrictions. When we finally opened up again I must say they were fantastic, footfall was great and many stallholders reported record takings.

We did notice that for the fairs we had on the run up to Christmas 2021, attendance was fairly low - we believe that customers and stallholders were just being extra careful so as not jeopardise their Christmas. But so far this year, attendance has been amazing.

 

ANF: What plans are in the pipeline for Grandma’s Attic?

CB: We launched a new fair at Woking Leisure Centre in February this year, which was a huge success. We are planning on holding four a year at the venue and we are also looking at a few new areas for 2023. They will be announced as soon as confirmed, watch this space!

 

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

CB: We do not get that much free time - we have a number of units in antique centres in Dorset, so they have to be re-stocked regularly, and I also work as a consultant for Cottees Auction Rooms in Poole running their Poole Pottery Auction and some of their other specialist auctions.


If we are lucky enough to have time free, we can usually be found either away visiting other fairs on buying trips, or visiting historic houses & gardens, we try to take a few weeks off in July & August so that we can completely relax.


Grandmas Attic 3

www.grandmasatticfairs.co.uk