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Bringing life back to local retail: An intro to Sydney’s only trade fair

IMAGES VIA REED GIFT FAIRS

WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

Retail revival.

One year ago when we were rationing mask supplies and first learning what social distancing was, the Australian retail sector was crashing. 

With trade plunging by a huge 17 per cent in April, many businesses flipped the open sign to closed while waiting out the unpredictable pandemic. Unlike many countries around the world, Australia has (luckily) bounced back from the brink of economic downturn and retail has returned with a bang. 


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The 52nd annual Reed Gift Fairs in Sydney is proof of the sector’s revival. The trade fair brings together suppliers in fashion, gifts, homewares, technology and more. 

While Australia’s largest trade event had to be postponed from February thanks to the Northern Beaches COVID cluster, Reed Gift Fairs’ event director, Cory McCarrick, is looking forward to the postponed Sydney event which is happening from April 17 to 20. 

“Although we’ve managed [COVID] well in Australia, it’s still been pretty tough for businesses, especially small businesses. They’ve had a really challenging time where retailers have had to close their doors. We want to reignite retail,” says Cory. 

With over 250 brands selling their wares, the Darling Harbour event hopes retailers ranging from independent boutiques to department stores find new and exciting products to share with their customers. 

First established in 1969, the Reed Gift Fairs held in both Melbourne and Sydney have championed local businesses for decades. “A lot of those exhibitors have been here for more than 30 years and they’ve grown with us into these huge well-known brands,” Cory says. 

“A quarter of our exhibitors are generational where their children have taken over from their parent’s business and hopefully it gets passed down to their children.” Some of these include the accessory label Gabee that has been exhibiting with Reed Gift Fairs for three generations as well as second-generation label DPI jewellery

With hundreds of brands under the one roof at the Sydney International Convention Centre, Cory is looking forward to being able to connect with traders and retailers outside of a Zoom call. 

“It’s a tangible experience, something that you can’t get behind a screen. Just that basic seeing, touching, smelling. I always say smelling sounds ridiculous but we sell a lot of candles and fragrances,” Cory laughs. 

Because this is the first major retail event in New South Wales since February 2020, Reed Gift Fairs is also giving retailers who register access to the creative Life Instyle fair. Located in the same building, the event brings together a community of like-minded people to discover curated collections of quality products. 

To support local business and communities further, traders will also be able to attend the free Retail Therapy program which features a range of speakers from The Lotco, We The Wild, MI Academy and Fossick Trends helping business owners to evolve their strategy and take the customer experience to the next level.

Clearly, there’s a lot to cover and Cory hopes that the only COVID safe, New South Wales trade event of 2021 can bring businesses and people together after the rough year retail has endured. “There’s something magical walking into the exhibition centre and seeing it all come together,” he says.

Register for Reed Gift Fairs Sydney here.

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