Gift Business Builds Momentum in Atlanta

Waterford debuted its Snowflake Wishes line of collectible annual crystal. waterford.com

Waterford debuted its Snowflake Wishes line of collectible annual crystal. waterford.com

By Sharyn Bernard

 Exhibitors at the International Gift and Home Furnishings Show here last month were pleased that recent positive signs at retail had translated into a successful show. Although some buyers – and some samples – didn’t make it to the show at the very start due to a city-crippling ice and snow storm, those who did get there early were writing hefty orders and building momentum for a strong start to the year.

“The people we have had have written big orders,” said Livia Cowan, chief executive officer for Mariposa.  “To me, the pulse is, we’re back. It’s very positive. I’m actually ebullient.”

Reflecting what Cowan calls a shift in the mood, Mariposa unveiled higher-end pieces for the luxury and bridal markets rather than focusing on more moderately priced gifts as the company had done over the last couple of years.

“The show has had great traffic, even the first day,” said Victoria Hamilton, merchandise manager for Tervis Tumblers, which was debuting a new showroom as well as several new licenses and lines. “Everyone has been upbeat,” about an improving retail environment.

MoMo Panache opened a new showroom as well, and Laurie Cohen, president, also said the buyers’ mood was positive. “It has [already] been better than the last show. People are very upbeat about 2011.”
Lenox Brands unveiled its new showroom, which Lester Gribetz, president, said was crucial to adequately showcase all the brand’s lines to the trade. “We have so many new initiatives to show [that the previous space] was inadequate. This is show business. If you don’t show it the way it should be displayed at retail, it’s a disservice to the brand.”

He added that this show in particular was an ideal time to open the showroom so the company could show the Donna Karen line, introduced in New York in October, in the best light to the regional retailers who would see it for the first time.

Waterford had a significant holiday introduction as well, debuting its Snowflake Wishes line of collectible annual crystal. The line, retailing from $50 to $3,000, includes ornaments, barware, flutes and prestige items and will feature one new snowflake pattern coupled with a top Waterford pattern every year for 10 years. Each pattern will be available for the duration of the line, but in 2020 the entire line will be discontinued.

Scott Wile, vice president and chief marketing officer for Lifetime Brands, said his customers had good holiday sales and were bringing that momentum into the show. “The mood is good. Stores had a good holiday selling season and they are getting more aggressive.”

Several companies were either new or made significant introductions at the show. Ajka Crystal, a factory in Hungary that makes crystal for more than 1,400 other companies and which had made the Faberge line, debuted the Romanov Collection, a bridal collection of seven patterns including several cased crystal lines. Halcyon Days unveiled its official Royal Engagement gift box, commemorating the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The company will showcase official Royal Wedding lines as well. And Eisch debuted its line of breathable wine glasses that decants wine in a glass in one to two minutes.