Buyers shopping the Temporaries in July weren’t here to look – they were here to buy and make the most of their travel to Atlanta. The addition of Building 2 WestWing in January 2009 helps prevent overcrowded aisles and provides more space to comfortably walk the floors so buyers can easily look at everything offered in each category. And they were definitely looking at products carefully.
Jennifer Freeman, sales manager for The Memory Company, says they did fine in Collegiate Products with sales to existing customers but opened more than 40 new accounts – up 75 percent from their Market in January 2009. Randy Brown, one of the company’s principals, says he believes retailers were tentative to buy much in January because of all the uncertainty so they relied heavily on what they were already holding in inventory, “But now they have to add stock. If they’re going to stay open, they have to have merchandise,” he says. “Even if in many cases they’re relying on products they’re familiar with and know will sell to their customers.”
Gourmet is a disposable product so it cycles differently than most others. While some consumers consider it a necessity, others view it as a luxury, albeit not always an expensive one. That means the market can shift differently than it does in other categories. Michael Pollock of Maggie Lyon Chocolatiers in Gourmet Temps says business with their larger customers is steady and in some cases even up, but smaller stores are being much more cautious. “We’ve seen some smaller stores that have really struggled – even some of our good customers with more than one store – but most are figuring out ways to stay open. We understand that everyone is having to do business differently now than in the past. We’re fortunate that we have loyal customers who’ve done business with us for many years,” he says.
A regular feature at Atlanta Apparel Markets for many years, this was the third time at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in BOUTIQUE Temps for Lauren Chlebowski, owner of Ollie Sang. She’s about to take a brief break to work on new product development for her company but said the Market was good for her – not great compared with July 2008, but good. “Last July was my best Market ever, and I realistically didn’t expect to top that given everything that’s happened in the economy, so I was a bit surprised that this one was good at all,” she says. “But it’s a sign that hopefully things are turning around for everyone.”
At Baggallini, COO Dennis Eckols says they had a surprisingly good Market with earlier days and the last day busier than their normal mid-Market crunch. They introduced some new products that could be considered “more trendy” than their mainstays, but continue to rely on their core customers. “We know our sores and who their customers are, and we’ve stayed true to our price points,” he says. “I know it’s been tough for some companies, but it’s been a great market for us. It always is here.”