Covid has reared its ugly head again, as border closures have made it impossible for the Gold Coast Gift & Lifestyle Fair to go ahead.
The fair was originally scheduled for 3-5 July, however, the recent Covid outbreak in Sydney and the subsequent border closures that followed have created an unworkable situation for the organisers.
Expertise Events managing director, Gary Fitz-Roy, has remained positive and committed to running the event, unfortunately the Queensland premier delivered a devastating blow last night as she announced that anyone from greater Sydney wasn’t allowed to enter Queensland.
“This is a total departure from the planned way where people who have visited hot spots would not be able to enter various states and the state governments would adhere to,” he says.
“This means a third of the exhibitors confirmed now cannot enter Queensland.
“We have spent an enormous amount of money including sending the directory to print as advised this week all which is not covered by any insurance or government support, but more importantly we are genuinely gutted as we just wanted to run the fair and capture the energy and enthusiasm so many have shared.”
Indeed, exhibitors such as Alcoholder were looking forward to attending the show and launching new products. Founder James Boardman says they were excitedly packing the last things into the expo crate yesterday.
“We have very genuine connections with our customers and missing an opportunity to build on that personally is a big letdown,” he says. “Nothing can replace that.”
Boardman adds he will continue to support the fair and will be there in August.
The new dates have been carefully selected with the Melbourne and New Zealand fairs being held early and late August.
“We appreciate the Melbourne Fair is late July/early August and there are still challenges around occupancy levels they are grappling with and our feedback is Queenslanders will likely not risk travelling to Melbourne.
“We also know the New Zealand Gift Fair is held in late August, however, the venue this week was placed into liquidation so we are unsure how that may affect that show. So 14 to 16 August seems to fit best into the cycle."
David Wilden, director of Bramble Bay Co, says that while he understands that cancelling was the right thing to do, he is concerned about the August date.
“We were incredibly disappointed after the postponement announcement today,” he says.
“This show was announced with relatively short notice and we have put great expense into our preparations. There is a significant cost involved in rescheduling flights, hotels, etc. It is a QLD show for QLD retailers, so cancelling for interstate people is frustrating, although we understand that it is better to get as many people showcasing as possible.
“We are concerned that pushing the show after the Melbourne (and NZ) shows will prove detrimental. As the show is moved, we would have liked to see it moved closer to Christmas, when people are focused on spending.”
Either way, Fitz-Roy encourages everyone to keep supporting the show. "We as a small family business love the sector and just want to do right by you and the gift community generally and whilst devastated by the news, we will bounce back and dig deeper to do an even a better job for you.”
Kelly Lane’s Chris Nyssen says the team at Gift HQ have been solid as a rock, super supportive and transparent on all engagements through this tumultuous time.
“These uncontrollable circumstances are beyond all of our control and we look forward to exhibiting as soon as we can,” he says.
“The whole team here at Kelly Lane are super disappointed at this fair being postponed. We were really looking forward to highlighting our new ranges and Australian made capabilities at the Gold Coast Gift & Lifestyle Fair.”
Exhibitor Lisa Pollock adds that considering the whole country is still dealing with a pandemic, these type of last minute changes are unfortunately unavoidable.
"Although disappointing to hear of the postponement of the Gold Coast fair, we will certainly keep our chins up and soldier on," she says.
"We as an industry are not the only ones who have been affected over the past 12-18 months and our plan is to move forward with our releases as intended―being as it is in this new normal."