15830 Mon, 12/29/2008 - 12:49pm
By David Gill
ATLANTA–For vendors of home textiles, the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market has established itself as a key show in the industry’s annual business calendar.
Manufacturers such as Peking Handicraft, Traditions by Pamela Kline, Bella Notte Linens and C&F Enterprises—all of whom exhibit at other gift and home-furnishings trade shows throughout the year—said they have reaped benefits from the Atlanta Market.
“It is equal in importance to the New York International Gift Fair to us,” said Shari Kline, president of Traditions by Pamela Kline. “We don’t do a lot of shows, but we have been at the Atlanta show for a long time. Where we are, in a permanent showroom on the fine-linens floor, is well established as a destination for attendees.”
“Atlanta is one of our biggest shows,” said Judy White, designer with Bella Notte. “It covers Southeastern retailers, but many people from all over the U.S. go, especially the high-end boutiques.”
Mark Grand, president of Peking Handicraft, called the Atlanta show “truly America’s mart.” With the breadth of products represented, “The Atlanta market could serve as a one-stop shopping experience for our customers,” Grand said.
The Atlanta market is “more focused on the gift industry. [However,] this market is important to us, since we originated in the gift industry,” said Nelson Chow, vice president of sales for C&F. “Although the far majority of customers are independent retailers, many key accounts shop this market as well.”
The textiles vendors added that the upcoming Atlanta show, scheduled for Jan. 6 to 14, is the larger of the two annual markets. Because of this, they are approaching the upcoming market with raised expectations and hopes.
“January is always a better market than July, and given the economy, people still need to put things in their stores,” Kline said. “The stores haven’t stopped buying. The people who are coming are cautious, but our sense is they’re doing better.”
“The majority of retailers [who attend the January market] shop for Christmas merchandise, in addition to their spring goods,” Chow said. “Larger key retailers plan and finalize special projects or fill out the rest of their assortments. Specialty independent retailers shop for immediate and holiday merchandise.”
White said, “There is still concern about the economy being down, but we hope to do a tremendous amount of business at the January show. The buyers may be more optimistic after the new year. Also, retailers need to stock up because they didn’t buy a lot of merchandise this year.”
Peking Handicraft has readied some new products in anticipation of a stronger show in January. “We are projecting our business for 2009 to be up from 2008,” Grand said. “We will be unveiling a new designer collection, as well as some very exciting new product launches from our current designers.”
Bella Notte is developing products that are more subdued, “with a calming influence,” White said of Bella Notte’s planned launches at the January show. “But it will also be a good time to design for bolder colors to cheer up consumers. We’re also developing an organic story. We believe the consumers want sustainable and organic, so we’ll have products that use low-impact dyes.”
“With the current national economic situation, business will be challenging in 2009,” Chow said. “However, C&F has expanded its design capabilities and have some great new designs for the coming year. We are cautiously optimistic for business in 2009 with the launch of our new line.”