The event’s Covid-restricted capacity of 300 stalls sold out quickly when organiser Sunbury Antiques announced new dates in March, with queues of buyers forming before opening time at 6.30am.
“Demand was such that we could have sold out 10 times over but for this first fair we tried to accommodate traders with existing bookings from postponed dates,” said Edward Cruttenden, who with wife Jennie runs Sunbury Antiques.
Entrance ways were reduced from three to two, with stalls primarily sited outside.
“Hopefully in future we will be able to increase stall capacity,” Cruttenden said.
The next Kempton fair is on April 27.
Another innovation for Tuesday, April 13, was a staggered entry for buyers – required by the local council and racecourse owner the Jockey Club to prevent overcrowding.
This tiered system was reinforced by a break with Kempton’s entry policy which has stood for 40 years. Having long prided itself on being the only major antiques fair to eschew an entry fee, last week it introduced a charge of £10 from 6.30- 8.30am, followed by £5 for customers coming from 8.30-10am. After 10am entry was free.
The new admission policy was agreed after meetings with the Jockey Club.
Cruttenden added: “We settled on buyers entering on a tiered paid system, to avoid everyone arriving at once.”
The odd dissenter aside, dealers ATG spoke to said they understood the reasons behind introducing the tiered charge.
Jewellery dealer Debbie Evans said the move “staggers the flow of people in line with Covid rules and means you’re only getting serious buyers before 10am,” she told ATG.
Calvin Shulman of Botanica Vintage & Antiques said dealers “understand why it needs to be done. And they’ve set it at the right level so as not to hurt people’s wallets.”
Dealers wondered whether Sunbury will maintain the entry charge. “We constantly review everything we do,” Cruttenden said.