13 July 2009

Market Notebook: Seen & Heard in Atlanta

Here it is, the very last night of our stay in Atlanta for the July Gift & Home show and this is my first post! The last six days have slipped by very quickly. When you're faced with the prospect of buying a whole season or two's worth of inventory for a lifestyle boutique, you have a lot of mileage to cover in a pretty short span of time. Product at this show is brought in from vendors representing all parts of the U.S., as well as from Canada, South America, Europe, Australia, throughout the East, and from just about everywhere else around the globe. The show is comprised of three buildings in the heart of downtown Atlanta, each building 18-20 floors tall, housing one dozen to a couple hundred vendors on each floor displaying their wares in lavish permanent showrooms and in small, tricked out temporary booths. It's over seven million square feet of potential inventory to peruse. As you can imagine, taking care of business at this show involves a lot of planning ahead, a lot of walking, a comfy pair of shoes, and a sturdy bag whose handles won't dig into your shoulder too badly as you add new catalogs to it hour upon hour. Everything you can imagine for home and gift is here...and a lot that you wouldn't want to imagine! As one new retailer friend said to me over dinner this past weekend, "When my customers ask me about Market, I tell them, imagine the ugliest store you've ever been in. They shop here, too." Just like any shopping trip to the mall or to a department store or a boutique, the tradeshows are full of the good and the bad and it's up to each store owner to comb through and pull together a look that works for his or her store and appeals to the customer in mind. All of us are searching for next season's story.

And Fall's story is a good one.

Because there is a strict No Photography policy at these shows, my Market posts are never feathered out with showroom photos. Here, though, is the view from our hotel room:

View from our hotel room.

I know, I know--it's not nearly the same as being inside the showrooms with me. But maybe I can paint you a picture with words. Across seven million square feet of showroom space, here's what we're noticing:

  • Eco-friendly goods are looking less crunchy and are now practically status quo. Designers across the board are taking a more ecologically responsible stance.
  • Natural meets modern. One of the dominant looks in decor and jewelry is what I'd describe as earthy glamour--natural fibers, textures, and {in jewelry} beads mixed with a bit of metal, shine, or swish.
  • The color purple was everywhere--from muted amethyst to moody plum to full-on fuschia.
  • Jewel tones in general--in addition to purple, an off-shade of jade and a soft sapphire are making their return.
  • Grey is the new brown {which was the new black}--from French grey to soft charcoal to pewter to nearly black.
  • Botanicals are still big in both textiles, wall art, and home accents.
  • Less is more. Bucking the "more for less" mentality of discount big-box stores offering designer knock-offs and last season's overstock for less dough, showrooms were paring down and focusing on pieces that really matter and will stand the test of time.
  • Words, words, and more words--on art, handbags, home accents, tabletop, upholstery, and just about everywhere else.
  • The industrial look is warming up--literally. Previously conceived of as cold, ultra modern, and best befitting a loft in the city, we're loving the new furniture that mixes metals and sleek lines with natural, hand-hewn woods. Think traditional styling with contemporary fabrications. Soon to be seen at THE BLISSFUL.
  • Pattern is in--ikat, Indian sari prints, etc.
It was so good to get together with a few retailer friends at Market. We laughed, shared, swapped ideas, and compared notes on the show. We talked about the customers who love our stores and keep us in business--what they buy, what they want, what they need. And how we can give them the best of all that.

Looking forward to sharing with you all that we discovered at this show for the year ahead. One last great sleep tonight in my Marriott Marshmallow Dream Whip-py bed, then it's off to the airport tomorrow morning.


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