About Kim McCoy

Senior Managing Editor at AmericasMart Atlanta

Our Atlanta: Dinner and Drinks

Blake and Alexis Rayon
Owners, UnCommon Fashion, Building 3, Floor 9, 9-S119

Blake and Alexis Rayon Uncommon Fashion

Blake and Alexis Rayon
Uncommon Fashion

Blake and Alexis Rayon arrived in Atlanta five years ago on the cusp of the city’s culinary and cultural renaissance. Coming from Miami, their standards for food and fun were high. “It’s a big part of our culture,” says Blake. “We like to have a good time.” They dove into the Atlanta food scene and the rest is history. We asked them about their favorite after-market spots.

Alexis’ Mood: Afraid of Commitment


Ponce City Market Photo: James Duckworth, Courtesy of ACVB

Ponce City Market is such a great option if you’re unsure of what you want to eat or where you want to go. Every price point, every type of food, more casual, more fine dining – it’s all there. Get a pop-tini from King of Pops or a craft beer from The Tap on Ponce. Then you can do burgers from H&F Burger or chicken from next door at Hop’s if you want super casual. Or for a mid-century throwback, head upstairs to The Mercury for swanky cocktails and a sit-down dinner.”

Blake’s Mood: Ready to Party

the Sound Table Photo: James Duckworth, Courtesy of ACVB

the Sound Table
Photo: James Duckworth, Courtesy of ACVB

“Grab dinner at Krog Street Market in Inman Park. From there, head to Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium and keep an eye out for celebrities. If you love hip hop or you love EDM, go across the street to the Sound Table. If you’re feeling hip and you want to party, go down the road to Mother. And if you really want to see Atlanta’s Dirty South go to Harold’s Chicken & Ice Bar. Right next door to that is Noni’s, which is a really fun late night spot.”

Alexis’ Mood: Chillaxing with Out-of-Towners

Piedmont Park Photo: James Duckworth, Courtesy of ACVB

Piedmont Park
Photo: James Duckworth, Courtesy of ACVB

“We always take people to Park Tavern. It has the nicest views of Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Skyline. Take a stroll around the park or check out the stunning Atlanta Botanical Garden. Then head to nearby Hobnob for drinks. Across the street, Varuni Napoli has pizza that is to die for and a shady little patio perfect for a spring day.”

Blake’s Mood: Uptown Attitude
“Head to Umi for sushi and start with drinks at the bar. These bartenders are top notch and masters of their trade. If you like highball cocktails and want to step out of your norm, ask for them to make you a Mezcal Old Fashioned. Get ready for smoky and sweet delight to roll down your tongue. Or, for something more casual, hit up Shake Shack and try the ‘Shroom Burger. It will change your life.”

Dining In
All tuckered out from Market? Blake has you covered. “What’s great about Atlanta is that you have Zifty, Postmates, Uber Eats, Amazon Restaurants. So even if you don’t want to go out, you can get amazing food from to city’s top restaurants delivered right to your hotel.” Check them out online or on the app store.

See this story, plus view a sampling of the hottest lines available at Market, in the premiere issue of Atlanta Apparel 2017. View this book in the Atlanta Apparel Book Lounge during Market or look at it online.


Emerging Designer Spotlight: Tepuy Activewear

Tepuy ActivewearEach February and August, Atlanta Apparel welcomes a fresh crop of designers ready to take the next step into the wholesale marketplace. The Emerging Designer Showcase on Floor 2 is a hotspot of talent where you can be the first to discover the newest apparel and accessory lines poised to make their mark on the world.

Three years ago, designer Elena Carné started Tepuy Activewear in Miami, working in her garage. “I sensed there were deficiencies of fashionable fitness and athleisure wear,” said Carné. “I also saw a lack of American made, designed and produced activewear and I wanted to fill that void.” With previous experience working with Spandex in bathing suits, she understood the textiles and materials needed for her designs. Since then, Carné moved her family and her business to Americus, Ga., where her line is produced in a large manufacturing facility.

Tepuy Activewear“My business partner and I visited AmericasMart on a couple of occasions,” said Carné. “When we discovered the Emerging Designer program, we knew that was where we needed to begin.”

Debuting at August 2016 Market, Tepuy Activewear was voted the favorite Emerging Designer. During Market they met with prospective customers from Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and more. “It was a great opportunity to connect with other new designers and encourage and support one another,” said Carné.



Q & A with Emerging Designer Elena Carné

Elena Carné, Tepuy Activewear A graduate of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Carné draws from her South American roots to create vibrant, colorful patterns constructed with high-quality, durable fabrics. The line includes leggings, sports bras, shorts and tanks, all produced in Americus, Ga.

What’s the best piece of business or design advice that you’ve received?
Keep blocking and tackling! One of my business advisors suggested I hold true to my vision even when others try to sway me, because I feel it is the correct path. Sometimes it is not easy because you have to make difficult decisions. As a designer and woman entrepreneur I have a vision and I will keep focusing on improving and growing my business by always getting the “small things right”…in other words blocking and tackling.

What’s next for you?
We plan to find experienced sales representatives to help us promote and sell our brand. We will continue to meet people, make contacts and network. I firmly believe that you must always be consistent with what you are doing and find the joy in it. Be proud of yourself and your work. Through determination, setting goals, God-given talents and personal faith you can fulfill your dreams.

Register today to join us for February Atlanta Apparel. Start the year with your look at top collections featuring Summer, Fashion Accessories, Spring 2, Resort 2, European Fall and Immediates. Temporary categories include Premiere, Ready, NOW, JFA, Impulse, Shoes, Premiere LUXE, Emerging Designer, Resort, Children’s and more.

Showrooms and temporaries will open on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Temporaries will close on Saturday, February 4 at 3 p.m. and showrooms will close at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 5.

You could win one complimentary night at a downtown hotel during your next Apparel Market just by voting for your favorite Emerging Designer. Check out the collection on Floor 2 and vote today at AmericasMart.com/EmergingDesigner. Share your favorite designer on social media using #EmergingDesignerATL.

The Great Outdoors

Consumers are spending for casual living options

Open any shelter magazine or turn on any home improvement show, and you’ll find talk about outdoor spaces. Whether it’s a prospective home buyer looking for the perfect backyard barbecue, a flipper adding some curb appeal or a designer creating usable recreation space for a growing family, Americans are spending more time—and more money—outdoors. Home builders and architects agree, as they face an ever-increasing demand for outdoor rooms and outdoor spaces for entertaining and recreation. Outdoor features are included in nine out of 10 newly constructed homes.

Outdoor FurnitureAs the demand for outdoor living grows, outdoor furniture sales continue to rise. Backed by rebounding home sales, low mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence, 2015 sales were projected to bring in an estimated $6.8 billion dollars, up 4.5 percent from 2014.

Dining sets continue to lead outdoor furniture sales, topping $2 billion last year and accounting for 48 percent of the market share. According to last year’s Casual Living’s Consumer Buying Trends Survey, 4.7 million households said they planned to purchase an outdoor dining set in 2015, with most spending between $100 and $399 for a set. While the majority of consumers look to home improvement centers and discount department stores when purchasing dining sets, furniture stores are seeing a marked increase in sales.

By ProductOne of the fastest growing segments in outdoor furniture is conversation or chat groups—akin to living room furniture for the outdoors—which may include a combination of chairs, love seats, ottomans and occasional tables, with some sets including fire pits. Households with incomes of $150,000 or more are the chief buyers of chat groups, and they are looking for high style and smart design.

Shade products are also experiencing substantial growth. Modern, movable and repositionable options allow for more comfortable outdoor experiences, while also protecting furniture from the harsh rays of the sun. Umbrellas, shade sails, gazebos and other shade items account for nearly $600 million in sales.

Garden oasis every day
Comfort and style shouldn’t be reserved for indoor rooms. Consumers’ continued desire for the same comfort and style outdoors as they demand inside is driving an industry to evolve and grow. As designers and retailers, you can capitalize on that concept year round by shopping The Gardens® floors at AmericasMart both during Markets and in between.

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There’s unlimited potential for home stores, hardware stores, garden centers, even gift stores to capitalize on the popularity of outdoor living. Think of all the potential customers. Families want to enjoy their decks. Empty nesters want a cozy porch to relax. And new homeowners are eager to build their own nest, complete with versatile outdoor entertaining spaces. Whether it’s furnishing a pool house, finding the perfect comfy chairs for a front porch, using a water feature to add life to a space, or building the perfect evening seating group around an outdoor fire pit, there are product lines at AmericasMart to please any client.

Floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 encompass 170,000 square feet of unique space that feature leading casual lifestyles and gardens companies in a one-of-a-kind outdoor living environment. The floor configuration and product mix encourages shopping for an array of high quality visual displays in a relaxed, vibrant atmosphere. During Markets, the floors provide inspiration down each pathway. And the opportunity is
available every day: Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Gardens® staff is always ready to help you find exactly what you need to place orders between Markets.

To learn more, attend What’s in? Going out! Trends for the Ultimate Outdoor Living Spaces presented by Modern Luxury Interiors Atlanta during Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift, September 19 – 23, 2016. Educational Sponsor: Olliix.

For more information on The Gardens® Open Daily opportunities, visit AmericasMart.com or call 404.220.2030 to personally speak with a showroom manager.

Images provided by Windham Enterprises, Summer Classics, RATANA and Castelle.

2016 Best Toys are at AmericasMart Atlanta

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) recently announced its 2016 Best Toys for Kids award winners. We’re honored to have nearly all of the winners represented here at AmericasMart this week. Check out the list below and click the links to see where to find them at Market.

Diverse Marketing

Diverse Marketing at AmericasMart Atlanta

Looking to add toys to your product mix, but not sure where to start? Click here to see 10 tips from Stevanne Auerbach, a.k.a. Dr. Toy.

The 2016 Best Toys for Kids award winners are:

Active Play
Kidoozie Counting Pogo Jumper –  International Playthings
Slackers Ninjaline Intro Kit b4Adventure – Brand 44 LLC

Choose Your Own Category
Rock and Roll It! Piano – MukikiM Toys
Sneaky Cards – Gamewright, a division of Ceaco

Classic Play 0-7 Years
Rat-A-Tat Cat – Gamewright
WOW Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred – Reeves International, Inc.

Classic Play 8+ Years
Snap Circuits Jr. – Elenco Electronics
Rubik Cube 3×3 – Winning Moves 

Constructive Play 0-7 Years
Robot Engineer – Thames & Kosmos

Constructive Play 8+ Years
Geckobot – Thames & Kosmos

Creative Arts Play 3-7 Years
Craft-tastic Kindness Kit – Ann Williams
Fuzzeez Husky – The Orb Factory 

Creative Arts Play 8+ Years
Peacock Silk Painting – Hotaling/Djeco
Sew Mini Treats – Klutz

Early Play
SpinAgain – Fat Brain Toy Co.

Game Play 3-5 Years
Little Red Riding Hood – SmartGames
Balance Beans – ThinkFun 

Game Play 6+ Years
Happy Salmon – North Star Games 

Game Play 8+ Years
Dr. Eureka – Blue Orange Games

Learning Play
Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set – Learning Resources

Pretend – Doll Play
Folkmanis French Bulldog Puppet – Folkmanis Puppets

Pretend – Fantasy Play
The Irish Fairy Door – The Irish Fairy Door Company/License-2-Play 

Pretend – Role Play
Calico Critters Seaside Ice Cream Shop – International Playthings

Scientific Play
Hot Ice Crystals – Thames & Kosmos

You can read more about the awards here.

Celebrating Excellence


AWH_PHOTO-1914-2When the curtain goes up on ICON HONORS 2016, the most anticipated and important night in the home and gift industry will have a dramatically new look, feel and energy in a spectacular setting unlike any other in the event’s history.

ICON HONORS 2016 moves to Atlanta’s storied Fox Theatre, the opulent 1929 movie palace located on Peachtree Street in midtown. With its spacious Egyptian Ballroom, 80-foot stage, giant screen and stunning Moorish architecture, the Fox is a spectacular setting for the ICON HONORS celebration.

The Fox Theatre – Photo courtesy of ACVB

With a coterie of more than 60 Honorees named over its first six years—from every dimension of the home and gift industry—ICON HONORS 2016 will again recognize the highest levels of achievement from a diverse field of submissions and nominations. Entries are submitted across the categories of Innovation, Contribution, Branding and Achievement and are judged by a distinguished panel of highly qualified experts drawn from the world of design, manufacturing and product development.

Attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry colleagues while enjoying top entertainment in an unprecedented setting – the most exciting night in the industry.

Join us at the Fox Theatre, Thursday, July 14 for ICON HONORS 2016. Tickets are available online at www.iconhonors.com

Meet the Judges

Bonnie Mackay - photo by Braden Summers.

Bonnie Mackay – photo by Braden Summers.

Bonnie Mackay
BMackay Consulting
Bonnie Mackay, principal of BMackay Consulting, is a leading influencer in product development and global sourcing, retail innovation and brand consulting. Her innate sense for design and materials, and keen understanding of financial implications, enable her to create innovative, highly profitable products and business strategies for leading retailers and non-profit organizations. Mackay led merchandising and marketing for 13 years at MoMA, as Director of Creative, Merchandising and Marketing. Previously, she was Operating Vice President, Fashion Director at Bloomingdale’s. She has consulted for and collaborated with numerous brands including Friends of the High Line, MUJI, Alessi, Kartell, Vitra, Moleskine, NUNO, Design House Stockholm and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. She’s a member of the management team of the innovative, socially responsible retail platform Able Made, and is on the LIM College Advisory Board.

Stan Topol

Stan Topol

Stan Topol
Stan Topol & Associates, Inc.
Raised in the South, interior designer Stan Topol spent the early summers of his career in New York assisting Billy Baldwin, who many consider to have been the dean of American Interior Design. He founded the award-winning design firm of Stan Topol & Associates, Inc. in the mid-1970s. In conjunction with his strong commitment to education, during the early years of his career he also headed the interior design program at the Art Institute of Atlanta and later was in charge of the curriculum for the entire institution. In Topol’s words, “having style does not mean one has to be stylish.”

Janee Ries

Janee Ries

Janee Ries
Janee Ries is an accomplished and multi-faceted merchant/marketer with in-depth experience in retail, specialty store, direct mail and e-commerce business sectors in both prestige and broad-base product categories. She is a skilled tastemaker with proven ability to create and/or build successful brands and sales initiatives while keenly understanding price/value and the bottom line. Ries’ career started at Macy’s before the world famous store had defined its housewares department, The Cellar & Marketplace. She spent the next 18 years working in the Macy’s retail environment across all parts of the Home Store. She went on to become Executive Vice President of Gump’s By Mail, Chief Merchandising Officer of The Museum Company, VP Home Ross Stores and started the Home/Luggage/Beauty business at ideeli, a “Flash Sale” e-Commerce company. Ries is an Ad-Hoc Adjunct Professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology in the Home Products Division.

Patti Carpenter

Patti Carpenter

Patti Carpenter
carpenter + company
Patti Carpenter is an award-winning Creative Director in globally sourced home accents, personal accessories and gifts, with extensive experience in product design and development, merchandising and color & trend forecasting. As a Micro-Enterprise specialist with U.S. presidential recognition for domestic and international expertise in artisan development, small producer and entrepreneur training, and economic development, she has been successful in international sourcing and creating innovative products for her eponymous home textiles brand, carpenter + company, sold internationally. Additionally, Carpenter has designed, sourced and created strong private label collections that add revenue and enhance the image of brands including Bloomingdales, Sferra, Neiman Marcus, Crate & Barrel, The Phillips Collection, ABC Carpet and Home, Donna Karan Urban Zen and Ralph Lauren. She has traveled and worked in fifty-four countries and has spoken and written on Color + Trend and Design around the globe.

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