view all news

Behind the scenes at NAMPO: Chaos, preparation and success

20 May 2023

Another Nampo show has come and gone. A year in the planning, with at least two months of acute preparation and one week of intense stress prior to opening day, culminates in 4 days of bedlam; as the doors open and we try to meet the expectations of our clients, the farming community. The word ‘Bedlam’ is derived from a notoriously chaotic mental institution in London. It is synonymous with chaos and confusion and aptly describes, despite our best efforts, how it feels, at times, inside the confines of the 8mx20m pop-up store.

Every year has been wildly better, in terms of sales, exposure and brand awareness, than the year before, and this year was no exception. That’s obviously a good thing as the purpose of our presence at Nampo is to build brand awareness, network and meet with our farming community clients, suppliers and their families, introduce and expose the retail department’s diverse product lines and promote new suppliers or product lines. The increased number of feet through our pop-up retail store at Nampo definitely ticked all these boxes.

But what goes on behind the scenes in the months and weeks leading up to the show? Fortunately, Nampo Bothaville is a large and prestigious show, with the dates of the show fixed long in advance, which makes planning a lot easier. Planning practically starts during the debrief of the previous show because that’s when all the role players get together to openly and frankly discuss what worked at the show and, almost more importantly, what didn’t! This forms the basis of the plans for next year’s show.

It’s the initiation of the research into what products best represent the thousands of products available inside a traditional retail store or through our online store. We sell a lot of feed and seeds, but through years of participation at agricultural shows, we’ve learnt that very few farmers want to carry a truckload of feed or seeds out of the pop-up store. On the other hand, toys and novelty goods are popular as they provide that sense of nostalgic, rustic, farm feeling that harks back to yesteryear. Toy guns, wire cars and model tractors are very popular! Throughout the year, the purchasing department analyses what products are trending and practical to take to Nampo. Visits to other trade shows can provide a good indication of what’s hot or what has passed its sell by date. 

From a practical point of view, it just doesn’t make sense to take our animal pharmaceutical products as control and refrigeration requirements are demanding. Many years of attending a show, in May, in the Free State have also taught us to prepare for rain and the cold. There’s nothing like a cold snap to have our customers reaching for sheepskin slippers, jackets and warm clothing.

Throughout the year, the purchasing department is constantly looking for those products that are going to attract customers to the store. We visit trade shows and scour markets looking for that one or two niche products that everybody will want. As a traditional sheep farming co-operative, we hold a special place in our hearts for sheep and have been fortunate to find a range of soft toy sheep that everybody wants. We say, tongue in cheek of course, that over the 4 days of Nampo we’re one of the biggest sheep ‘sellers’ in the country!

There’s never a shortage of excited staff members putting up their hands to work at Nampo, but even here, we have to carefully consider who’s best for the job. It’s a demanding, stressful and tiring job manning the pop-up store. 10000 steps are easy! We try to be as practical as possible, combining product knowledge with experience with enthusiasm. Because the Nampo attendees come from all over the country, we try to make sure all our regions are represented, but after 2 or 3 days, we rotate the staff to ensure fresh minds, bodies and souls! It’s easy to recognise those who’ve finished their stint in the pop-up shop – they’re the exhausted ones!  

The days leading up to Nampo are all about logistics. Where are we going to safely store the truckloads of products leading up to the show and then make sure all the products are delivered to the pop-up store before the show starts on the Monday. There is an inordinate amount of planning that goes into the layout of the pop-up store. With very little storage space, nearly everything has to be on display and easily accessible. So layout plans are drawn up, and the Saturday crew assembles, sets out and positions the shelves, display cabinets and tills before unpacking the product boxes commences. Sunday, the setting up of the pop-up store is finalised before it’s all locked up for the bedlam that is to follow.

As I sit here typing up this expose of the ‘behind the scenes activities, feedback is rolling in that this year’s Nampo has been the best yet. All those months of planning by all the various role-players have paid off! There are tired, happy smiles of contentment and a job well done. Now for next year. Prep starts now!

Yolanda Colesky – Purchasing Manager, Retail