About Kim McCoy

Senior Managing Editor at AmericasMart Atlanta

Paws for a Cause

harry barkerA philanthropic effort might begin with an employee’s personal desire to help others or an unfulfilled corporate commitment to charity. No matter what inspires the act of giving back, charitable efforts can often reap rewards of the soul, far beyond material gains.

Harry Barker, based out of Charleston, South Carolina, creates beautiful, functional, eco-friendly dog products. Our products are an expression of love between people and their pets.

Carol Perkins, founder of Harry Barker decided that one of her first goals when starting the company was to raise awareness and support for the community. When she heard about the Canines for Veterans program in 2011 her interest was immediate because, as she puts it, “we love what they do, and we will do whatever we can to help the program grow.”  Since then, Harry Barker has been a sponsor and an advocate of this truly amazing program.

Canines for Veterans works on a “Triple Win” concept: rescuing shelter dogs, rehabilitating military prisoners and revitalizing wounded veterans. The rescued shelter dogs are given a purpose by being trained to serve wounded veterans.  The military inmates’ rehabilitation is enhanced by their responsibility for training the dogs.  The service dogs are then able to retrieve, carry objects and provide stability for a wounded soldier. Most importantly, the service dogs provide love and companionship that help the transition for select veterans who are disabled by serious physical and mental injuries.

Harry Barker offers a line of products which includes fetch balls, collars and leashes and a canine favorite: CFV Peanut Butter Dog Treats. The recycled steel tins are filled with 12 ounces of all-natural treats baked in the U.S.A. The treats are then packed by people with disabilities as part of a skills training program through The Hope Center of Charleston. Harry Barker donates a portion of the proceeds from the Canines for Veterans product line to the organization. Our favorite part of being involved is getting to see the pups off to their new, happy homes and giving treats and toys to each and every graduate (dog AND veteran) of the program!

Harry Barker has had a truly enjoyable and rewarding experience working alongside Canines for Veterans and will continue to do so in the future.

Come see two American heroes, wounded veteran Dean Suthard and his service dog Esther, at the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market on Thursday, July 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fieldstone showroom, Building 2, space 912.

–Lindsey Griffin

Tips for Success in the Temporaries: Setting up Your Booth

You’ve reserved your space, submitted your payment, now it’s time to create your booth. It’s a good idea to physically map out your booth set before you arrive at market to make sure everything is displayed in an inviting and easy-to-shop way. Here are some tips for setting up your booth.

1. Make your exhibit warm and welcoming
Set up your booth as if it were its own store. Use creative backdrops, custom walls and flooring to attract buyers.
Atlanta Beaus #12. Merchandise your products in an attractive and organized way
Make it easy for buyers to shop your booth. Group together items by theme or color to create visual interest.
Aria Handmade #2 rev3. Lighting is essential
Make sure lighting is spread evenly throughout the booth and that new products are spotlighted.
Zutano #3 rev4. Highlight and clearly identify what is NEW
Buyers love to know what’s new and exciting in the marketplace. Make it easy for them to find what they are looking for.
Cottage Products #4 crop5. Display company name clearly and professionally
Don’t rely on the sign provided. Proudly display your company name and logo so buyers can make the connection with your brand.
Rewined #5 rev6. Bring your set-up supplies
Keep a kit full of essential tools like tape, scissors, screwdrivers, thumb tacks, extension cords/power strips and fishing line. You never know what you’re going to need at the last minute, so be prepared.
toolbox7. Enjoy this exciting process!
Made In America #6

Looking for more tips from experienced exhibitors? Click here to view our helpful videos.

Tips for Success in the Temporaries

Are you planning to exhibit in the Temporaries? It’s the perfect time to start your pre-market planning! Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Plan your booth
Before you arrive at Market, you’ll need to plan your booth and decide how you are going to display your products, especially if you’re new to Markets. Remember to order display components such as tables, shelving, curtains and table linens well in advance. Review the floor plan and your booth space so you can anticipate and plan ahead for any columns, electrical boxes and height restrictions. It’s a smart idea to test your booth layout in your warehouse or garage to decide on the most attractive and efficient placements.
floor plan2. Invite your buyers
Don’t rely solely on walk-up business; advertise and promote yourself leading up to Market, letting buyers know where to find you. Be sure to include show dates, your booth number and any special offers in your promotional materials.
ad3. Pack your products
Organize and label everything for easier unloading at Market.
crate4. Ship your crates…early!
Ship early and use AmericasMart Logistics to get free storage and delivery to Market.
logistics truck
Looking for more tips from experienced exhibitors? Click here to view our helpful videos.

Ready for Kickoff: Game Day Looks


This gallery contains 7 photos.

Shopping for fall in the South and beyond isn’t complete without stocking up on your game day fashions. Football fans used to search high and low for outfits in their teams’ colors, but more and more designers are listening to their … Continue reading

Taste of the South


This gallery contains 7 photos.

In the South, we pride ourselves on our distinct regional specialties, always prepared with a giant helping of love. Many of our southern vendors are here to tempt your tastebuds with their cherished recipes. Fat Mama’s is famous for tamales in Natchez, MS, … Continue reading

Crazy for Camo

Fueled by the popularity of A&E’s hit series “Duck Dynasty,” camouflage is popping up all over market.

Gib Carson Associates, Building 2, 1319

Gib Carson Associates, Building 2, 1319

The Rep Connection, Building 2, 1407

The Rep Connection, Building 2, 1407



DHR & Co., Building 2, 1500

DHR & Co., Building 2, 1500

Mainstreet Collection, Building 2, 1501

Mainstreet Collection, Building 2, 1501

RPM Gifts & Greetings, Building 2, 1735

RPM Gifts & Greetings, Building 2, 1735


What sets you apart from your competitors?

By Mike Gomez, President, Allegro Consulting

I attended a gathering of a select group of business owners who were the runner-ups for the “Small Business Person of the Year Award”. During the event each owner was asked to stand up and briefly state what they thought made his/her business so successful. One of the owners stated proudly it was his employees – he felt he was able to attract and retain good employees. That was his “secret”. Later, I had the opportunity to privately ask him what made his employees “better” and how was he able to attract them. Here is how the discussion transpired:

I asked, “Are your employees more qualified than your competitors?”
“No”, he replied.
“Do you offer better benefits or pay and thus can attract better employees?”
“Uh, no.”
“Do you train them differently?”
“Do you offer performance incentives or shares of company stock and thus they are more motivated?”
“Is your work environment any different than your competitors?”
“Do you offer more vacation time, gym memberships, or other perks?”
“So then why then do you believe it was your employees and your ability to attract them that sets you apart? Why do you clam this as the reason for your success?”
He hesitated, gave a puzzled look, and then said, “I really don’t know – maybe it is not my employees.”

The sad fact is this owner didn’t know what attribute made his company successful. Most likely his employees are no more or less qualified (better) than his competitors. And because he doesn’t know, he is more likely than not to stray away from it or unknowingly allow it to flitter away. Once this happens, the business is gone.

This owner did not know or understand his company’s core competency; the unique thing they do or process they employ or value they add to win business that would be difficult for their competitors to imitate. Your company’s core competency is the foundation of your business. To grow, you should know what it is, nurture it, and exploit it.

Let’s take a moment to discuss, as an example, the core competencies of two well known businesses, Dominos Pizza and Honda.

Dominos made its mark by guaranteeing a quality pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less. Their core competency was the “process” they designed starting with the how they selected the store locations and ending with the delivery method. It was this value added benefit (a warm pizza delivered quickly) that drove their customers to choose their product over the plethora of other pizza restaurants. Dominos continuously invested to refine that process (their core competency) and keep it as a discriminator and a method for growing their business beyond pizza to now include hot wings, pasta, etc….

Honda’s core competency was building high quality, reliable, light weight engines; first for motorcycles then later small cars, ATVs, lawn mowers, and the rest is history. Their continued investment in engine technology is a reflection of how well they understood what made their product the preferred choice regardless of whether it was in a lawn mower or a luxury automobile.

What is your company’s core competency?

By the way, it is very rarely “our customer service” or “our people”.

Knowing and then nurturing your core competency will ensure it continues to provide you with the competitive advantage necessary to grow your business.

Mike Gomez presents “10 Essential Elements for Long-Term Sustained Growth” as part of The Education Center at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market on Thursday, July 11 at 9:30 a.m. Visit AmericasMart.com for a complete list of seminars and events.

Mike Gomez is president of Allegro Consulting, a growth specialty firm with a singular purpose of helping businesses grow. Allegro helps owners with marketing strategy, sales, and operations. They also provide leadership and business coaching. For more information, visit http://allegroconsultant.com.

The History of Fragrance Jewelry

Lisa Hoffman jewelryBy Lisa Hoffman

Modern fragrance lovers embrace scent as a form of self-expression, but there was a time in the history of perfume when scent was worn as a form of aromatherapy cloaked in the splendor of ornament. Before science could explain why certain aromas had the ability to soothe, energize, and inspire, many were of the mind that particular scents could function as olfactory talismans of well-being and protection. From this notion splendid filigree and bejeweled creations were born.

Fragrant jewelry was a luxury designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. Solid perfumed balms filled the segmented chambers of 17th century necklaces made of precious metals. Designs varied, but many were engraved and some were intricately encrusted with jewels. The visual pleasure offered by a necklace with a decorative perfumed dome resting near the heart had several benefits; it was portable, fragrance could be applied as needed and admirers could find also find comfort in its presence.

Fragrant jewelry also took the form of earrings, lockets, bracelets and rings, each designed with portability in mind. In time, these customizable methods of enjoying scent were replaced with liquid perfume packaged in crafted glass bottles. Today, fragrant jewelry’s influence can be found in scented candles and potpourri which are used to aromatize environments and create a sense of well-being. Both hearken back to the days when balms, herbs, dried flowers and resins filled the aromatic chambers of fragrant jewelry, a method of self-perfuming that was the pinnacle of luxury in its time.

It has been my pleasure to re-introduce fragrance jewelry in a unique and modern way. My goal was to create pieces that are both beautiful and serve the olfactory needs of women today. The journey has been a labor of love and the response a great joy.

Lisa HoffmanVisit Lisa Hoffman Beauty on Floor 4 of Building 3 July 12-16 during the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.


Oops! I Have No Money to Pay the Bills!

ming wang 257By T.J. Reid

For now, we aren’t going to talk about Open-to-Buy and overstocked or poor season sales. Today let’s tackle EXPENSES!

Remember when you deduct the cost of merchandise from the sales figures, whatever remains is what you have left to pay all those other bills. (No running to the bank for borrowing!) The only way to successfully operate is to make sure your expenses do not exceed your gross margin percentage (what is left after paying vendors).

Rent is probably your most important cost, perhaps even over employee salaries. Once you sign a lease, this amount cannot be altered. Pay close attention to the amount of the lease, as well as the content and expiration. Know what you are responsible for, and for how long. You should only spend 10 percent or less of your monthly sales for rent.

Salaries and employee costs should run around 15-16 percent of your sales. Many retailers try to cut that down by having fewer or untrained people on staff. Do not scrimp on this and leave your store unmanned when needed. You may lose much more than an hour’s payroll on just one shoplifting episode. Many retailers offset higher salaries with better in-store relationships, rewards, environments, and employee discounts.

Utilities can usually not be changed much, except by making sure the store is properly insulated, the doors not left open, etc. Phone services have so many variations today, make it easy. Chose one for phone and Internet.

Advertising – my favorite – is a place you should NOT try to cut. If you are a new store, you probably need to spend upwards of 7-8 percent to get your name out there and your business introduced to the public. If it were my established specialty store I would try to spend 5-6 percent to continue my good business and customer rate. Please do not go to 3 percent or less. You are not telling anybody anything!

Find fun ways to communicate with, and delight your customers. Parties, giveaways, or even just “a martini with markdowns” event can create excitement. Partner with other merchants, restaurants, cleaners, spas, diet centers – anyone who also serves your target customer. Together you will save and succeed.

Postage rates continue to rise so pay close attention to those costs, but do not eliminate direct mail. Use on-line mail services and bill paying. Perhaps direct mail a little less often, but most of your customers are not solely dependent on emails and Facebook. And they are deleting some before even reading. A postcard is in their hand and on their refrigerator! Most Important: do not, I repeat, do not email a birthday card. The entire purpose of this process is to be warm, caring and friendly. Email is not!

Property tax rate, insurance, etc. is just a fact of life, but you can control your bookkeeping expenses and legal fees by doing a lot of this in-house or researching to find good, but inexpensive professionals. Maybe that cute, young C.P.A. might want to trade-out for clothes or at least, spend her fee with you.

Market expenses are also in your control. Use free room offers, discount travel, and of course, always eat in the showrooms. In Atlanta, Sandy and Bob Smith have a menu to die for, including her homemade ice cream; Tim Philbin’s wife cooks a fabulous meal; Ambrosia has lots and lots of goodies, and BF&J are known for fabulous barbecue and carrot cake. Find the perfect place for your taste. There are lots of choices for clothing AND for lunch!

Also there are frequent airfare sales. (I already have my tickets for two markets ahead!) Plus some folks love to drive to market. It gives you the opportunity to relax and contemplate seasons past and to come. And having a roommate is not a crime. Not only will you save money, you will network and probably improve your business by sharing with your mate!

T.J. Reid is editor of FASHION ADVANTAGE, a magazine for small store owners. She presents a workshop every Saturday at 10 a.m. during Atlanta Apparel shows. For more information visit www.tjreid.com.


Textile Terms You Should Know

Natalie Scott of Outdura held a great presentation yesterday on outdoor fabrics. Here are a  few textile terms Scott discussed.

  • Weave: The method or process of interlacing two yarns so that they cross each other at right angles to produce woven fabric.
  • Warp: The set of yarn elements running lengthwise on a loom and in woven fabrics on the bolt. It is in place before the filling yarns are woven over and under it. Individual warp yarns are called ends.
  • Fill: The set of yarn elements in a woven fabric that run horizontally or from selvage to selvage, crossing and interlacing with the warp. Individual filling yarns are called picks.
  • Stria: A stripe that changes subtly in color and/or texture throughout the fabric usually creating an all-over effect. Light/Medium/Dark strands are rotated to make stria patterns.
  • Plain Weave: One of three basic weaves, in which a filling yarn crosses over a warp yarn and the under the next warp yarn. Each row alternates the “over” and “under” warp yarns.
  • Picks: Individual yarns that run horizontally to form the filling.
  • Pick Count: Number of picks per inch in a fabric.
  • SDA: Solution Dyed Acrylic—Acrylic fiber in which the coloring pigment is introduced into the spinning solution.
  • Jacquard: A system of weaving which, because of a pattern making mechanism of great versatility, permits the production of complicated patterns and weaves.
  • Dobby: A system of weaving, on a dobby loom, consisting of a simple structure.
  • DWR: Durable Water Resistance- special finish applied after weaving on Outdura fabrics which enhance water resistant and stain resistant features.
  • Selvage: A narrow woven edge portion of fabric parallel to the warp.
  • Width: Term used to determine measurement of finished fabric; the distance from selvage to selvage (47”, 54”, 60”, 99”, 108”).
  • Up the Roll: Term for the direction of a fabric- between selvage, the pattern goes up the goods.
  • Railroaded: Term for the direction of a fabric- between selvage, the pattern goes across the goods.