I'm not normally sentimental but as I approach the end of 2020 I must admit to getting just a bit misty-eyed for the good old days of 2019. Although I'm pretty confident that next year is likely to be so much better than this one (let's call it 20/20 hindsight) it's also bound to be so much different than 2019, but not necessarily in a new and improved way. At least not for many businesses.
In 2019 things were, dare I say it, boringly normal. We took so very much for granted. Take my own sector the stove industry as an example. In 2019 we had our own three-day annual trade show in Harrogate. We often grumbled about Hearth and Home. We complained when we had to organise ourselves for months in advance to be able to display at it and wondered why we ever went. Everybody did. It's too far North and no one from the South attends. It should be two days instead of three. All you see are the same old faces. I'm sure every sector has said similar things about their own trade shows.
Thinking about it though, in a way trade shows are bit like those occasional parties you've attended that you never really wanted to go to but were dragged along to anyway by a persuasive friend. Or by the thought that you just might miss out on something. Then somehow you managed to have a pretty wonderful time. Possibly got a little drunk. Probably made some new friends. Perhaps even met the love of your life. My goodness, all those familiar friendly faces too. How you laughed and had a good time. Happy days. Definitely a bit like a good trade show.
Sadly for the stove industry Hearth & Home will not be coming back in 2021. Even if by some miracle the organisers wanted to risk all and start up again the exhibition halls where it all took place are likely to remain moth-balled as a Nightingale Hospital for at least another year. It's never been truer that you don't really miss something until it's good and gone.
From now on Hearth & Home, probably like other trade shows seen off in 2020 will just be a mere memory – and not even a distant one. I look back at it with a fondness hard to imagine in 2019. In the past nostalgia seemed to take decades to fully mature, but not in this case. Covid has even changed that. As someone once said, nostalgia's not what it used to be and unfortunately neither will the stove industry without its irreplaceable trade show.
At The Stove Yard we've been saying it for years (since we first opened our doors in fact): wood burning stoves deliver renewable, low carbon, affordable heat. Many of today’s wood burning stove owners are happy to tell you that they have been doing their bit for the environment long before carbon reduction and air quality targets made daily headlines. In the last five years it's estimated that nearly 750,000 homes have installed a new stove – many of them replacing open fires and older stoves, ensuring that stoves also make a genuine contribution to economic growth. It's vital therefore that we do not overlook this well-established and much loved method of heating our homes as the country rises to the challenge of the new carbon reduction targets that are soon to become law...read more
The Northern Ireland Assembly's Climate Bill and the stove industry's response
In February 2020 the Northern Ireland Assembly declared a climate emergency. The Climate Bill aims to ensure that Northern Ireland meets legally binding net-zero carbon emissions targets by 2045. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without such targets. In March of this year the Republic of Ireland approved a similar bill with a net-zero target by 2050. All of this is to limit the consequences of climate change.
I'll admit it, when I was young and daft there was a time when I would have happily burned driftwood, not only on the beach watching the sun go down, but in my open fire at home as well. Free fuel, what could be better? Well, just about anything else actually. It might look great with its smooth sun-bleached and apparently bone dry, bark-free surfaces but I'm pleased to tell you that I know much better now. I'm definitely done with it, so let me explain why you should avoid it if you haven't already.