Selling Integity

Championing sustainability with first-rate, handmade, local goods
By Julie Auton

Along Atlanta’s “Magnificent Mile” in Midtown — named for the upscale condos, hotels, restaurants and stores — lies Eco Denizen, a unique boutique selling distinctive gifts and home décor that are “better for you, better for the planet.”

“We strive to procure high-quality products that are handcrafted, recycled, repurposed and local,” says Gene Cox, co-owner with his wife, Xiorelis, an architect.

AWH_PHOTO-6149The “right” ingredients
Another distinguishing mark of product they endorse is if it’s made from “pure” materials and limited ingredients. All items go through a vetting process, which has established Eco Denizen as a trusted source among store guests.

Products that pass scrutiny possess the following characteristics:

  • express a level of sophistication
  • feature exquisite packaging
  • convey a story about what inspired its design
  • elicit an “aha!” or “gee whiz” reaction because of a different look or one-of-a-kind attribute
  • contain superior components
  • attract positive online reviews
  • derive from local, or regional or American-made sources
  • are educational and creative

“We reward great ideas with our business,” Cox says.

The “right” products
Eco Denizen reflects a growing trend indicating that consumers are veering away from a cookie-cutter, mass merchandise approach and embracing quality objects that are individual and personalized, made locally and carry a story. “Our bestsellers teach us that our customers want: better materials, beautiful packaging and highly giftable,” says Cox.

Price points vary wildly, ranging from a ten-dollar journal to a stylish chandelier costing hundreds. But customer service remains equal, regardless of the purchase amount.

The “right” services
While custom giftwrap for purchases is free, a small charge is levied for gift boxes, with a portion going to support sustainable organizations.

Their “better for the planet” platform also opens opportunities to align with organizations and contribute to causes they value. For Valentine’s Day, for example, Cox teamed with the Junior League of Atlanta to raise money to help fight human trafficking.

“We’re open to possibilities of ways to partner with others to promote the environment, the community and good causes,” says Cox. “Our business is important to us, and we hope for a little bit of good to come out of it.”

For more information, call 678-705-9880, email or visit

Bling it On!

By Poorima Apte

Sparkle sells. Even better, the endless variety of jewelry options out there — from Swarovski to synthetics — is malleable enough for practically every budget and every taste. For retailers, it’s a sure-fire way to ring up sales.

Bauble Basics

Designs by Liza Kim

Designs by Liza Kim

For true sparkle connoisseurs, Swarovski crystals make the cut. Jewelry designer Lorren Bell of Deluxe by Lorren Bell, says the quality is assured and that the crystals can be incorporated into both high-end, timeless pieces and everyday fashions. Also look for glass crystals, semi-precious stones and synthetic cabochons, says Rose Fritch, lead jewelry designer at Sorrelli, who adds that the possibilities with a large set of materials in various colors are endless. Liza Kim of Designs by Liza Kim says cubic zirconia is another popular option for sparkle and the array of colors can work to accommodate a variety of styles and base materials.

Heavy Metal
All that dazzle needs a firm base on which to rest and a variety of metals, some coated to look like the real thing (think gold and silver), do just that. Popular materials include copper since its malleability makes it easy to shape; it’s usually resistant to corrosion; and it develops a green patina, which is desirable depending on the artist’s design. Edgard Nieves at Sassy South Jewelry says rhodium is another popular metal base.



Trendy and Timeless
Exactly what styles are trending? The word across the board: tassels. Fritch suggests using chains and cords together and mixing colors and metal together. The classics — hoop earrings, stacked bracelets, rings — are always in fashion. Just look for updated versions with a twist.

For more information: Designs by Liza Kim,, 866.673.4844; Lorren Bell: Deluxe by Lorren Bell,, 214.651.0110; Sassy South Jewelry,, 404.586.0045; Sorrelli,, 877.659.4374.

Images courtesy of Designs by Liza Kim and Sorrelli.

Attention Registered Buyers!
In addition to regular weekday hours, Building 3 will be open for buyers and their guests, and exhibitor guests with showroom appointments, on the following dates:

Friday, November 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, December 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, December 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, December 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Regular AmericasMart Admissions Policies will apply. Extended hours parking is $15 per vehicle, paid in advance. Please visit our website for information about AmericasMart’s policies regarding admissions credentials, guests and children.

Not a Registered Buyer?
You can shop our Fine Jewelry, Fashion Accessories and Apparel Showrooms this holiday season through our Corporate Friday program. Participating apparel showrooms will be open December 4, 11, and 18 in Building 3 with “Samples” signs displayed from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

To obtain a Corporate Friday courtesy pass, participants must be 18 years or older and present a business ID card or a payroll stub with your full name along with a valid governments-issued photo identification. Registration for Corporate Friday ends at 5 p.m. For more information call 404.220.2446.

Local Love with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga. He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.

This holiday season, consumers can positively impact their communities by choosing to shop local. Studies over the past ten years have repeatedly shown that a greater percentage of every dollar spent in locally owned businesses stays within the community. Shifting just 10 percent of spending to independent shops rather than chain stores can significantly boost an areas economy and create jobs.

American Express’ Small Business Saturday initiative on November 28 helps kick off the holiday shopping season and encourages consumers to spend their dollars at small AMEX_Shop_Small_Street_CMYK_SOLID_Logobusinesses. Make the most of your participation and energize your community by organizing a street party. Ask other store owners to put a table display in front of their shops, suggest restaurants serve samples to passersby and organize activities for kids to make the day more of an event. Be active in rallying other merchants, your Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber and elected officials to get involved. You can make it happen!

It’s not just about the holidays. Help keep your local economy thriving throughout the year by purchasing supplies from area retailers rather than big box stores and hiring independent firms for supporting business services like accounting and cleaning. You can also have an effect by carrying products that are mostly – if not all – American-made. Then look for regionally produced pieces and, finally, get hyper-local by purchasing from artisans within your own city.

shop local eco denizenLet people know what you are doing to make a difference. Reach out to your local newspaper, radio and TV stations with your message and send information about your shopping events and initiatives to churches, schools and clubs.

Hosting a Seasonal Open House with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga.  He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.

With the holidays quickly approaching, get your business and customers in the spirit by hosting a seasonal open house. This can be something as simple as snacks and beverages during the day or a great sale after hours. This is an opportunity for you to thank your customers for their business, as well as successfully gain new customers for the holiday season and months following.


Planning an event around the holidays can be stressful. With new merchandise coming in, busy store hours and even busier customers, it can be hard to find the right time. Planning in November with Thanksgiving approaching is a great time. Christmas shopping is on the customer’s mind and it will help them begin planning early, without worrying about other holiday events. Sunday evenings work well for events such as these with shoppers already around town after morning events or breakfast.


Set a fun theme as the basis for your event, such as a classic Christmas song like ‘White Christmas.’ Carry the theme throughout your in-store decorations, window decorations or food items. Don’t forget the holiday music! This is a great idea to help get customers in the mindset of the holidays while shopping.


Invite other vendors to participate in your open house, overall attracting more guests to the event. Contact your favorite local photographer to document the event or set around a few Polaroid cameras for customers to use on their own. You can use the photos on your social media accounts to promote your event for years to come. Looking for something for the kids? Invite Santa and his helpers and have your photographer there to take photos as needed. These can be sold through packaging deals and will make great gifts for parents.


Collaborate with local caterers, bakeries or cooks to offer refreshments at your event. Donated samples of their items offer a chance for them to promote themselves and sell items if they choose to do so. If local customers have cookbooks, welcome them to bring a few samples made from their book and offer them the chance to sell their cookbook in store during the event. You can have signs made to promote the event or advertise your event on social media and include the local food options that will be available.


Check out your customer email list for a start on creating the invitation list. Of course, all customers and the public passing by will be welcome to your event, but getting the word out ahead of time will be essential. Send invitations via email or through traditional mail to whomever you have information for. Reaching out to men will be helpful on their end, as well. Let them know that employees will be available for any shopping assistance they may need.


Here are a few other helpful tips for planning and organizing your seasonal open house event. We recommend not trying to gift wrap that day, as the store will be busy and require attention. Instead, offer a redeemable ticket for them to come back the following week to have their gifts wrapped. This will give them the chance to return to the store AWH_PHOTO-8686for a less crowded, more personable experience. Not only is a seasonal open house event a great way to draw in more business, but it also sets you apart from other businesses around town. It gives you the opportunity to get the store decorated prior to the holidays and see what pieces in your store sold well, giving you enough time to reorder before the holiday season really begins.

The holidays are such a fun time for business owners, so why not share some of the fun with your customers?

The Luxury of Selling Fine Linens

Basic Tips to Sell Luxury Linens

Luxury home and fine linens are growing markets, but they still depend on personal Global Viewsrelationships and product knowledge to be successful. Bedding is one product area that’s about much more than just physical elements of the manufacturing – it’s about romance and ambience.

Quality sells. That’s the bottom line when it comes to bedding. Sferra Bros. Raised the bar for everyone by introducing the first 1,020 thread count Eqyptian cotton sheet more than a decade ago. But, don’t let thread count fool you. It’s an industry myth of sorts that higher thread count always means better quality. In reality, while a high thread count usually means a smoother, finer sheet, it’s only one factor. Base fiber, quality of yard and finishing are vital defining properties of the finished product.

Pom Pom at HomeRetailers new to the marketplace should start with a base product from one manufacturer that will sell to a range of customers. It could be a set of pillowcases or a basic sheet set. Then, use that product to help build inventory as the demand grows. As new customers are exposed to high-end bedding, they’ll tend to want more and are willing to work it into their budgets. Retailers can work the same way by growing their product mix as their customer base grows.

Display is an absolute key to success – don’t keep linens hidden on shelves or hangers.IMG_4598 Determine how much floor space you can dedicate to a display bed and make the most of it. Even a single bed can work wonders since people tend to buy what they see. Most can’t resist a luxuriant, beautifully made-up bed. Even if they can’t afford to buy an entire ensemble, they can add a few luxury pieces. And, the display can be that “Wow” factor element every store must have to draw people in the doors.

Here are some good-to-know tips and terms for sourcing linens:

  • A coverlet is similar to a blanket cover or spread versus a duvet cover, which encompasses a duvet (comforter)
  • If you aren’t interested in a bed skirt to conceal box springs, then a box-spring cover is another option.
  • There are different types and qualities of “down” inserts. Products can claim to contain “down,” but it’s often a blend of materials. Hungarian goose down is superior for being lightweight and providing warmth. A rule of thumb: the colder the country, the better chances of it being true “down.”
  • “Embroidery” refers to a design or motif; monograming is embroidered initials.
  • In fine linens, white and ivory continue to be the best sellers since they are timeless and classic.AWH_PHOTO-8726

Helpful Holiday Tips for a Successful Selling Season

Are you ready for the holiday selling season? Mercedes Gonzales of Global Purchasing Group has some tips to help set you apart from the competition.KO-Ice-Princess-Christmas

The U.S. public isn’t necessarily money poor, they are time poor!  They need a real reason to shop in your store that isn’t a guilt trip. We have come up with a few customer service friendly tips that are cost effective and will help you stand out from the price wars and the crowds.

  1. Carry unique products that are limited and well-crafted

This means buying from emerging designers. Look for them on the Premiere area of Floor 2 during market. And ask your market rep who is new and answer those emails from an unheard of designer.

  1. Offer free gift wrapping

This is a small investment in the purchasing of the wrapping paper and supplies. You can have your favorite local charity volunteers (I like animal shelters) do the wrapping for a donation to their cause. You are building good will in the spirit of the season and offering a service with a low cost.

  1. Accept phone orders and offer local same day delivery

Really make this known by having signage in the store and posting it daily on your social media. It is totally fine to charge for this service. You will find this to be most popular during the last few days. If you get to watch the movie, “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” there is a great part where on Christmas Eve, right before the store was to close, John Lennon (I know) calls and wants some fur coat bought over to the house. The poor sales guys waited for HOURS while John and Yoko went in to another room to look at the coats. Turns out they bought 400k worth of fur coats. It’s just an example of going the extra mile.

  1. Offer free Wi-Fi so the significant other can watch the game

I still don’t understand why so few stores offer this. It’s at no cost to have an addition password for the public. If the significant and/or the kids are occupied, the customer will feel more at ease to shop.

  1. Set up a children’s area with videos playing

This doesn’t have to be a fancy set up – it can even be a small sitting area with IPads. Most kids will use “mom’s” phone so they really just need a place to sit. Bean bag chairs are great and can be easily stored during off season.

  1. Extend and have flexible return policies

Oh the bitter pill of independent retail. You should take back returns. A fair and competitive policy is unworn with tags can be returned for a full refund within 14 days. It’s a math game, which you will win by having a competitive policy. OK, ready? For the month of December, I would extend it to 30 days to make a return for a full refund.

  1. Turn your staff into trained wardrobe and gift experts

You should have quick training every week during the holiday season. Come up with gift ideas for the most challenging person. Make it a contest to see what “forgotten” person gets a gift this year. I bought super warm gloves for the man at the transfer station at the suggestion of a sales person at my local boutique. Interesting it’s a women’s boutique that only offers men’s gifts during the season. Oh and I don’t even like the guy.

  1. Offer extended shopping hours

Again it’s a math game. You MUST have extended hours at least two nights a week during the season. You should be able to cover the extra payroll with the additional sales. Make sure you promote your extended hours.

  1. Keep a stash of universal cell phone chargers

You will be the place to go for this service the investment can be as small as buying a few different types of chargers to buying one of those locker types.

  1. Offer homemade holiday cookies (make them festive)

Have the team make their own family cookie and have a “bake off” with the winner getting a ribbon and photo to be displayed in the store. Or make a donation to a local group (church ladies make the best cookies) and have them make a batch for the store.

  1. Surprise them with a small gift with purchase

There are many accessories available on the 7th Floor that can be bought for $1. Place them in a nice organza bag for a great “wow” factor after a purchase.

  1. Host fun events like having a Santa or photo booth

Make a small investment in renting the costume or you might be able to hire a “Santa” to come to the store. Take photos on your smart phone and offer to email them to the customer…thus also collecting emails.

  1. Offer coat and bag checks

I don’t understand why more stores don’t offer this service. If I am sweating under my layers of clothing, I am not going to stay very long in the store. Use a simple deck of cards and clothing pins system and the stock room for this.

It might go without saying, but make sure you are fully staffed during peak hours and that everyone is properly trained to check out a customer.

I’ll be speaking on Saturday, October 17 at Atlanta Apparel about more ideas and sales training during Market.

How to Run a Successful Retail Shop
Presented by Mercedes Gonzalez of Global Purchasing Group
11 a.m.  |  
Floor 11, 11-W357
9 out of 10 retailers don’t make it past their first year. This crash course was designed from an 8-hour workshop to highlight the most important key factors you didn’t know you needed to know.

Creating the Ultimate Sales Team
Presented by Mercedes Gonzalez of Global Purchasing Group
3:30 p.m.  |  
Floor 11, 11-W357
Your sales team is the backbone of your store. Learn the five key training points every successful retailer should know for closing and increasing your sales, and hear how to avoid Internet showrooming.

Best of Atlanta 2015

Last week at The Atlanta Gourmet Market®, we celebrated the gourmet industry’s finest with our annual Best of Atlanta awards. Congratulations to the following winners!

  • Fox Point Farm’s Fabulous Fudge Sauce for Best Chocolate and Goat Milk Caramels in Salted Vanilla for Best Candy (Non-chocolate)
    Fox Point Farm 2 Fox Point Farm 3



  • Sable & Rosenfeld’s Tipsy Tapas Cheese Stuffed Baby Squash for Wild Card
    Sable and Rosenfeld

  • Plentiful Pantry’s Thai Coconut Soup for Best Soup
    Plentiful Pantry
    In addition to top gourmet products, excellence in visual design was celebrated by the Atlanta Fall Gift & Home Furnishings Market® and The Atlanta Gourmet Market® BEST OF SHOW award, presented to Never Lose Hope Designs.

best booth IMG_4519