By Allison Zisko
Tabletop and housewares vendors enthusiastically made a fresh start at the gift show in Atlanta last month, encouraged by a relatively strong holiday season and eager to help their retail partners draw consumers into their stores with new merchandising strategies.
“We love this show,” said Melissa Moore, marketing manager of Edgeware, of the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. “Every year it’s more and more important to our brands. It’s a good way to start the year. Pretty much every account needs to be seen in January, so this is a good place to start.” In addition to launching a 12-inch oval ceramic sharpening rod and a box grater, Moore and a colleague conducted a “School of the Edge” class in AmericasMart’s demonstration kitchen to teach knife sharpening skills.
A few booths down from Edgeware, Ethan Hamme, national sales manager for cutlery company Messermeister, was equally pleased with the show. “We’re here for brand awareness,” he said. “Going to a show is not always about writing orders. Each face-to-face is worth a little bit in the end run.”
In the tabletop category, newcomers to the show were pleased with the opportunities it presented. “It’s been an excellent show,” said Brent McDaneld, vice president of sales and marketing at Rogaska, showing for the first time in the Weikels Group showroom and meeting with potential customers from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Canada. “We definitely have to be here, we want to be here,” McDaneld said.
Michael Aram used its new showroom as a launchpad for its n ew decorative pillow collection and a showcase for its recently launched porcelain dinnerware and its many new metal designs.
Lenox, which introduced a new holiday dinnerware pattern called Vintage Jubilee, experienced “major increases” and “extraordinary numbers” during the show, according to its president, Lester Gribetz. At the time of the show, which took place during the second week of January, some of Lenox’s specialty store customers in the Northeast remained closed due to the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy. Yet Gribetz noticed a comeback in sales during the first two weeks of the year. “I think it’s a pent-up situation in the North,” he said. Christmas sell-through was very strong, he said, and the company wrote big orders and is planning for increases. It has also refocused on certain businesses that it let lapse, such as Judaica and bridal giftware, both of which are “selling very well,” Gribetz said.
Godinger showcased a wide variety of Philip Whitney frames, from Italian woods to various metals, under a newly branded division. In addition, Godinger’s Avi Glatt, senior managing director, sales and development, is working to integrate both Godinger’s various brands and its many product categories for a better presentation for specialty retailers. It showcased its new Lava collection of metal serveware and its Bamboo collection of metal bowls and platters cross-merchandised with new stemware. The focus is on cross-over lines that complement each other. “We’re not ‘over-SKU-ing’ or repeating the same SKUs in every line,” Glatt said.
Several other vendors made new attempts to offer planogram and merchandising assistance to retailers. Tervis, which offered 500 new designs at the show, including pieces from new licenses Anne Taintor and Surf Life, showed product in thematic groupings, such as man-friendly designs (beer, bacon, mustaches). “People are very visual. So we like to give them ideas of how it will look in the store,” said Kim Livengood, public relations and events manager.
Yankee Candle did likewise, with its flameless candles and accessories, with its spring offerings, with its Welcome to Paradise thematic grouping and with an expansion of its Man Candles, which it is promoting for Father’s Day. New scents include Mmm, Bacon! and Movie Night (which smells like movie theater popcorn).
Everybody’s Ayurveda, the wellness-inspired division of Midwest-CBK, introduced a line of body care that coordinates with its Soy Veda candle collection, as well as a line of loose tea and tea cups and saucers, with suggestions on how retailers can set up their own in-store tea bars and host dosha parties, which focus on the three bodily energies in Ayurvedic teaching that make up one’s constitution.
Among the trends at this market were mercury glass (shown as a finish on jars, lamps, candlesticks and other decorative items), galvanized metal (for decorative containers or stands) and rope accents.