I love going to the AmericasMart. When I first moved to Atlanta, it was this giant treasure chest of a building and I would ALWAYS tag along with my Mother-In-Law when she would offer to take me. We would start with breakfast at the diner across the street and hit up the 7th floor for serious shopping. That was before I knew what else lived inside and I was able to get access on my own as a designer (one of my happiest moments!)
Being that I have spent some serious time there both shopping for fun and shopping for work I have some tips for making the most out of your AmericasMart experience.
1. You MUST wear comfortable shoes. It is not an option, it is a necessity. You will walk forever and you need to be comfortable (or you could just buy cute flats somewhere in Building 3.)
2. Get a map/directory and hold on to it! If you are coming for the first time you might get disoriented but a campus map and the directory will get you where you need to go.
3. Bring business cards. As a designer this should be automatic, but it is the easiest way to hook up with showrooms. Give an associate your business card and ask them to send you whatever you need to set up an account/line list/etc. This way you don’t leave with 5,000 brochures, unless you’re into that.
4. It also doesn’t hurt to keep a copy of your Tax ID and Business License in your bag. I carry mine around and I pull it out more then you could imagine.
5. Bring a small notebook that can fit in your bag. You will need it.
6. Have your camera ready and charged. Of course always ask if you are allowed to take pictures, but I find that snapping a photo of what it is I like and then jotting down where it is from, is the best way to keep track of what I see. There are so many showrooms and options that if you like a piece, snap a photo, get the info, then send that photo to your showroom rep and chances are they can hook you up with the rest of the line.
7. Utilize the Coat Checks! You will have your hands full, you will have a bag, maybe a cart as well, they will get full and cumbersome. There are coat checks located in each building near the lobby or registration area, ditch your coat, it’s one less thing to struggle with.
8. Market Wednesdays are awesome. If you can’t make it to Market or if the idea of fighting ATL traffic downtown on a busy Market Week isn’t appealing, hit up Market Wednesday. They are typically every other month (check www.americasmart.com for exact dates) and most showrooms are open specifically on those dates. Sometimes showrooms are open every day, some are only open during Market, etc. But most vendors make and effort to be open for Market Wednesdays.
9. Coffee. If you need coffee like I need coffee (or water and sustenance in general) you can find it in every building! Specifically: Building 1, floors: 2, 4, 7, 10, 14, 15, 16, 19. Building 2, floors: 8, 10, 12. Building 3, floors: 1, 2, 5, 6.
10. Strategy: I like to work from the top down and walk the loop in each building. It helps to have an idea of where you want to go and what you are looking for in advance, that way you make the most of your time. If you aren’t up for chatting with vendors or showroom staff and just want to get through as much as possible, I like taking my directory and noting each showroom that looks appealing and then contacting them for information later. That way I can see as much as possible and still get the information I need when the time comes.
If you don’t see Niki on the Home floors, you can find her at the “Blogging, Business and Bites” panel on Saturday, January 15. She, along with three other blogging peers, will give insider tips on how blogging can build your business. It all starts at 4 p.m. in Building 1, floor 14, 14-D-9.