Central London Computer Fairs – the End is Nigh?

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I went looking for some cheap memory and printer cartridges this past weekend and thought I’d head into one of the two central London Computer Fairs/Markets.  It’s been at least a year since I last visited one.  In years gone by I was always more of a regular visitor to such events as at that stage internet prices were still higher than those that could be found on the tables of my local fair.

With highly competitive pricing from online computer component retailers London Computer Fairssuch as OverClockers and Scan in the past year or so I haven’t felt the need to visit the computer fairs – even when factoring in the cost of delivery.  This extra cost being worth it due to the convenience that shopping online offers

Though what you don’t get when buying online is the atmosphere, hustle and bustle of the market.  Browsing the expanse of tables looking for that high-street beating bargain price or obscure imported computer gizmo or add-on that you never knew you needed until you saw it.

It came as something of a shock when I got to my local central London computer market only to find a significantly reduced number of sellers occupying the basement of this inner city university venue.  Even more noticeable was the lack of buyers. It was the shadow of its former self. 

It used to be a case of being pushed along between sellers stalls by the wave of people coming to buy.  During this visit unfortunately all it was missing was the tumble weed blowing through the venue..

Upon reflection this shouldn’t really have come as a surprise as times have changed and London Computer MarketsI suspect people (such as myself) are much more inclined to shop around online for a better price and claim back their Saturday mornings instead of frequenting their local computer market.

I should mention however that it is quite likely that part of the reason for the lack of buyers is down to the current credit crunch/recession though it was obvious that there were other factors at play due to the sheer lack of numbers.

I’d imagine the high costs of renting central London hall space is not cheap so how long will the Computer Markets be able to sustain this level of buyers and lack of activity?  I hope things pick up for them and I will make an effort to visit when I need any replacement printer cartridges, etc as it’d be a sad day and an end of an era for us ‘build your own PC’ geeks if they were to close.

If anyone from overseas (ie: not the UK) has links to their local Computer Fair site then please feel to add them in the comments section below – I’ll then add them to the list.

Links:

British Computer Fairs

London Computer Fairs

 

Technorati Tags: Computer,fair,,quiet,London
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About Simon Seagrave

Simon is a UK based Virtualization, Cloud & IT Technology Evangelist working as a Senior Technology Consultant and vSpecialist for EMC. He loves working in the ever changing IT industry & spends most of his time working with Virtualization, Cloud & other Enterprise IT based technologies, in particular VMware, EMC and HP products.

As well as on this site, you can find him on Twitter and Google+

  • Simon

    I’m amazed they still exist – it must be 6 or 7 years since I went to one!

  • http://techhead.co Kiwi Si

    It was kind of sad really – as I had always remembered them a bustling, buzzing (in a Geeky way) kind of places. Sign of the times and progress I suppose.. The memory and hard drive prices there were more expensive than you can now buy online – but after some haggling a good deal can normally be done. :)

    • http://www.britishcomputerfairs.com Paul Driver

      It’s true that like many businesses on the High Street, computer fairs are getting a fair old battering because of the recession and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the online firms to disappear.

    • http://www.britishcomputerfairs.com Paul Driver

      It’s true that like many businesses on the High Street computer fairs are getting a battering because of the recession. Moreover, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the online firms to disappear before too long as well.

      British Computer Fairs are fighting back though. In the middle of April we’ll be moving back to the American Church. It’s a much better location on Tottenham Court Road (opposite Habitat) and to stimulate business we’ll be reducing admission prices for the public as well as table prices for traders.

      Thanks for the Link.

      Paul Driver
      British Computer Fairs

      • http://techhead.co Kiwi Si

        Hi Paul,

        That’s good news – that was always my favourite location as it’s a nicer venue and better located.

        Hopefully that combined with the admission price (and vendor tables) drops will bring folk back through the door again.

        I’ll be sure to make an effort. Let me know when things are at the new location, admisssion charge drop, etc and I’ll put it up on the site.

        Thanks for calling past TechHead.

        Cheers,

        Si

  • http://www.catfordcomputerfair.co.uk Colin Adley

    Not quite as illustrious in name as the central London computer fair but there is a new weekly event it SOUTH LONDON from 10th April, the Caford Computer And Technology Fair. Located in a secured CCTV covered location. There is an existing boot fair that runs weekly the year round. Free raffle on Launch date for a computer system with flat screen etc.. More info on the website :)

    • http://techhead.co Kiwi Si

      Hi Colin,

      Thanks for letting us know about the Catford Computer and Tech Fair – I will have to head down and take a look. Hope it is going well. :)

      Cheers,

      Simon

  • http://www.catfordcomputerfair.co.uk Colin A

    Thanks for your reply, would be good to see you there !

    Remember all, spread the word, one way it will work !

  • jay

    i want to start my own computer fair in East Midlands. How do i go about getting sellers to come and sell their products.Its good size hall that i manage. Can somebody help me please need to get this project of the ground. i won’t be charging a lot for the tables.

    • http://techhead.co Kiwi Si

      Hi Jay,

      I hope you get some people to help with your East Midlands Computer Fair. Let us know how you get on. :)

      All the best,

      Simon

  • Andy Crowther

    Does anyone know what happened to the team that used to sell computer books at the British Computer Fairs. Telegraph Books I bought many books from them, from those odd packing crates bookshelves they used to stack up. They also sold out of a old ambulance off the street outside the fairs.
    Yes I will miss the computer fairs when they finally fade away.

  • http://www.britishcomputerfairs.com Paul Driver

    Re: Telegraph Books.

    Jaffa hasn’t traded at computer fairs for a number of years. As far as I know he can still be contacted through his website at http://www.telegraph.com

    Interestingly, he registered telegraph.com long before the internet became main stream and despite failed legal action by the newspaper group I understand he still owns the domain name.

  • http://www.brianmoreau.com/ Brian

    I used to go a lot about 4 years ago and it was a great place.
    I want to go again but I can’t find out if it is actually still running.
    I found http://www.londoncomputerfairs.com/ on Google but its advertising the one in Stratford. I tried to contact them but their email link is dead.
    I also found a listing on http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/tottenham-court-road-computer-fair-london which has the wrong number.

    Arrrr when is the internet going to become live?

    So is it still running or not?

    • http://techhead.co Kiwi Si

      Hi Brian,

      There are still a couple that are running on Saturdays down Tottenham Court Rd in Central London. Just walk down the street and look for the guys with the large billboards handing out Computer Fair fliers.

      Cheers,

      Simon

  • http://www.brianmoreau.com Brian

    Yes. i went on hunch dispite the guy running the Stratford computer fair telling me the Tottenham Court Road fair was now closed down.
    I ended up bloging it
    http://www.brianmoreau.com/articles/Tottenham_Court_Road_Computer_Fair_London.php

  • TJ

    One of the main reason i think Fairs are closing it that they still feel customer are silly and try to rip you off with some prices. People do their shopping online to find prices and then go to computer fairs only to find things much cheaper online. You have to make a profit, so just lower your prices a little and people will come back.
    Stop charging entrance fees as this also keeps people out.

  • 43

    I absolutely agree with TJ about the entrance fees. With internet shopping being cheaper these days, why do they still charge an entrance fees ? I’d visit the one nearby as I live in Stratford and there is one every Saturday and Sunday 10.30 am – 4pm. But I would not pay a fee to get in, only to browse around and probably pick up something that I didn’t know I need till I see it. Do away with the fees and it will attract more people and perhaps even family visits.

  • Computer fairs are dead

    There are too many Pakistani’s Indians & Bengalis on the Stalls. They never let you have a bargain on anything,. They are killing the market because ther are driving computer fair prices through the roof!!! I always look for English, Black, European Sellers.