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At October’s Newark fair there was consternation and anger at the prospect of change among dealers who had just learned that the 2005 dates for the nearby Swinderby fair had been set for the weekend before Newark. This puts three clear days between the two events. Most were struggling with the practical problems of re-arranging their schedules and felt they were being forced to make a choice where previously they had been able to cover both.

“The changes will cost us an extra fair,” said Jan van der Vlist, a regular outside stallholder at both Newark and Swinderby with his enormous stock of period and reproduction furniture. “I can’t do both – ten days is too long to be away from the warehouse [in central Netherlands].” His neighbour, Huddersfield dealer Just Jane, said she would be boycotting Newark and lobbying Swinderby to bring their dates back in line.

For UK dealers extra days brought the prospect of more accommodation costs, more vehicle hire, more staff costs and more travel costs. However, it was the Europeans who felt they had the biggest adjustment to make. Coco Rotondo and Belen Mendoza from Madrid are regular buyers at both fairs, but say they will not be able to do both events in future. Dutchman D. de Koning of Olden Days agreed: “I can no longer buy a five-day ticket to cross the Channel. Now I must buy an open ticket if I want to buy at both fairs.”

Quieter voices welcomed change. Among those who saw the developments as an inevitable and overdue reaction to the way the trade has evolved over the past five years was Vanessa Paterson of Retro-Gallery. “It’s a bold step that will be a positive step,” she said. “People have been asking for change at Newark for years. Now they should support it.”