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.
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