Let the Good Times Roll
By David Gill
A positive mood will envelope New York City from Aug. 15-19, with the advent of this month's New York International Gift Fair and Gift & Home Textiles Market.
\The two shows, which run concurrently, are taking place as the product categories they cover--home textiles, gifts, accessories and housewares among them--continue their slow progress on the upward curve. All of these industries were hit hard in 2008 and 2009, and attendance at these shows suffered as a result.
Now the numbers look more promising. "We're closing in on 2,700 companies exhibiting at the Gift Fair, as opposed to 2,400 in the August 2009 show," said Dorothy Belshaw, director of the show and senior vice president of GLM, the show's owner and manager.
Belshaw said that show exhibitor numbers bottomed out in the winter version in 2009--with textiles, accents and tabletop taking the brunt of the falloff. As of late June, Belshaw said, "tabletop is filled out. Accents is also sold out, and textiles is tracking to be filled out shortly. We've seen a tremendous surge in exhibitor numbers in housewares and tabletop in particular."
She said she had begun to notice an uptick in the Gift Fair in August of 2009, after the worst of the economic debacle. "In this year's winter show, there was more buying activity as many retailers who stayed home last year due to the economy began to return," she said.
The fact that the fourth quarter will begin a month and a half after the Gift Fair has provided a spur to the show's activity. "Retailers I speak with say they need inventory for the fourth quarter," Belshaw said. "A lot of these have cut their inventories close to the bone, and now they need to see how many reorders they need."
The climb in exhibitor numbers has enabled GLM to ramp up several new features, originally spelled out in its "Focus Forward NYIGF 2013" strategic plan, a major reorganization of the NYIGF. One is the introduction of the new Baby & Child division, a group of 200 exhibitors of juvenile products. Another is the reintroduction of New York's Newest, a division of 200 other companies that are exhibiting at the Gift Fair for the first time. Still another is the show's return to Pier 92 of the Passenger Ship Terminal, which was once a regular space for exhibitors.
Another is the expansion of the space at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, on the north end. This will add 40,000 square feet of extra exhibit space to the center. "News of the added space at Javits has helped push up participation," Belshaw said.
Moving across town to the Gift & Home Textiles Market, the mood is just about as upbeat. "Optimism within the industry is as high as I have seen in many years," said Chris Collins, vice president and general manager of 7 W New York. "I expect this upcoming New York market to be very strong and a pivotal event in the continued recovery and renewed growth for our industry."
Collins said businesses in the industry picked up a few things about managing their operations during the downturn, which have helped them now that the economy is back on a growth track. "I believe many industry-leading companies have employed new levels of creativity on the business side and product side," he said, "which is something that is tremendous for the business and will fuel future growth for manufacturers and retailers alike."
As with the Gift Fair, 7 W New York is using the market to launch some new features--and one of them as with the Gift Fair, focuses on juvenile products. The market will run in tandem with the NYC Baby & Kids Fair, which presents infants' and children's accessories and furnishings. In the seminar schedule for the week, one of the features is a presentation on pop-up retailing by Christina Norsig, founder and chief executive officer of PopUp- Insider.
The good feelings about the market are being expressed in the form of new and expanded showrooms at 230 Fifth Ave. Six vendors have moved into the building for the market, and five current tenants have expanded their space either in their current location or by moving to new space in the building.
Among the new tenants is Perfect Fit Industries, the basic-bedding manufacturer, which is opening its space in room 1305 in time for the market. Previously, Perfect Fit's showroom was in 261 Fifth Ave.
Lucy Zhune, creative marketing director for 230 Fifth Ave., said the building enjoyed increases in both attendance and order writing both in this year's February market and in last year's August market, compared to previous years, "indicating that business is improving," Zhune said.