The Sberatel / Collector fair is the biggest fair for collectors in all fields in Central and Eastern Europe. The 24th edition will be held in Prague, in the Czech Republic on 10 and 11 September 2021. The fair's director, Jindřich Jirasek, talked to us about the preparations for the fair.

How do you manage the event given that the Covid pandemic doesn’t appear to be completely behind us?

We follow developments in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries very closely because many foreign visitors and exhibitors attend Sberatel. Of the over 230 companies that take part in the fair every year, half come from other countries and, out of the 10,000 visitors, over a third do also.

But, we’re able to make the required adjustments. We held Sberatel / Collector, the only international gathering of collectors in Europe, last September. Although the pandemic was worsening at that time, we were able to quickly respond to government regulations. We divided the hall into sections which could host 500 people (digital doors were installed on the side entrances). Visitors exited via the side doors of the hall and entered via another door located a few metres away. Curtains were mandatory and the aisles between the stands were widened as much as possible.

How did the visitors and exhibitors react?

They were extremely positive! Thanks to this large space, the visitors didn’t run into each other at the stands and tables. They had more time to browse and select the items they wanted. And they spent more. We’ll see what the conditions for fairs are like at the end of August. However, together with the management of Prague PVA Expo, we’re ready for every option.

You hold several fairs during the year. But, the fall collectors fair, which took place in September was one of the only ones last year.

Nobody expected that, shortly after the fair ended last year, the Covid situation would deteriorate to the point that, barely one month later, a field hospital would take the place of the fair stands. Fortunately, the government didn’t have to use it, but the strict lockdown went on for several months. We weren’t able to hold the spring and fall fairs, Geosvet / Geoworld, for minerals, fossils and precious stones, or the Sberatel / Collector spring fair. (https://www.sberatel.info/de/fruhjahrsmesse/). We really hope that our new Sberatel / Antikvariat project (https://www.sberatel.info/de/antikvariat-messe/), which we’ve planned for 20 and 21 November, won’t be impacted by the situation.

The fair has been able to maintain exhibitor interest and a high number of visitors, despite the growth of the Internet. How?

The Internet is neither an enemy nor a competitor for us. I think that demonstrates that “live” and “online” events can easily co-exist. The Internet gives us an immediate view of every sector, but even virtual reality can’t replace buying in person and meeting the sellers.  That’s doubly true in the case of collection items.

We hear that your event hosts many different types of collection items.

That’s true! The fair’s exhibitors offer visitors stamps, coins, medals, bank notes, postcards, valuable documents and other collection items. An event which focuses on a single type of collecting would be hard to manage financially in our small market.

And, of course, we do intensive marketing in the Czech Republic and other countries throughout the year. Before the pandemic, the Sberatel / Collector stand was present at most major collector events. We always provide a free glass of our delicious Czech beer as an invitation to come to Prague.

Our Collectors’ Clan loyalty programme also helps us a lot. It has about 10,000 members to whom I send a weekly newsletter with information about the world of collecting. Members get free entrance to the fair, which gives them an incentive to travel.

The Collector fair will also include other events. Which ones?

We try to attract new audiences to the fair. That means that we want to bring new customers to our exhibitors. All collectors like to buy things that aren’t part of their main collection…

The minerals and precious stones fair, which is primarily for women, is part of the Sberatel / Collector fair. The goal is to make it easier for male collectors to convince their partners to come with them to the fair.

The record exhibition (http://www.vinylexpo.cz/de/) focuses on records, CDs, cassettes and music memorabilia. It’s always held on the last day of the Sberatel / Collector fair, which is the Saturday. We quickly saw the emerging trend for vinyl and it’s now the biggest event of its kind in the country.

Record collecting is as popular in our country as elsewhere in the world, but in the Czech Republic, we have another advantage: GZ Media (www.gzmedia.cz ), from the little town of Loděnice, is the biggest producer of vinyl records in the world. While other companies junked their presses in the 1990s, they kept theirs! Today, they produce and sell around the world.

What can foreign visitors expect when they travel to Prague this year?

Of course, Prague is still as pretty as it was before the pandemic. However, there are still very few tourists, so it’s an excellent time to visit all of the sites without the usual crowds. In addition, the restaurants and hotels in the city centre are thankful for every customer and have low prices. The staff is also very attentive.

It’s important to check beforehand if your country’s government has implemented restrictions for travel to the Czech Republic. The recommendations of the Czech ministry of foreign affairs are available here.

The up-to-date Sberatel / Collector fair programme for this year is available here:

Messe Sberatel / Sammler

We’re really looking forward to welcoming all collectors!

 

Written by Héloïse

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