A Welcome Resource

Hospitality buyers look to AmericasMart
By Jessica Harlan

A growing number of buyers for hotels and restaurants are shopping AmericasMart, seeking trendsetting looks and pieces that will set their spaces apart from other commercial establishments.

“Today, both hospitality buyers and consumers follow fashion, culture, and lifestyle closely,” says Monica Porter, Certified GREENleader for Montes Doggett. “They are in sync and will ultimately have an eye for the same look and feel when choosing items, whether for a home or a [commercial] project.”

Montes Doggett

Among the trends she’s seen in hospitality design are simple, clean and oversized statement pieces and new interpretations of familiar, everyday shapes. Porter adds that buyers are gravitating to items that can stand on their own, rather than collections. Meanwhile, Leslie Thompson of Up Country Home, believes the hospitality trade leads in design, and consumer trends are more likely to follow that sector. Right now, she says, “there is a big trend in creating spaces for communal dining.”

Bigger and Better
Mac Cooper, president and CEO of Uttermost, sees an emphasis on texture and color with natural hues, rather than busy patterns. He says furniture pieces have a softer look with curvy lines rather than sharp angles. And hospitality buyers are often drawn to products that have connectivity features, such as USB ports in lamps.

Pasha Furniture, Inc.

Cooper says that rather than cookie-cutter spaces, hospitality designers aim to create unique experiences. “They are seeking eye-catching, one-of-a-kind designs that fit the narrative of the hotel design,” he says. “In the larger, bigger-budget properties, the art is almost exclusively local, with exotic public area pieces.” Sam Kural, CEO of Pasha Home, agrees. He says oversized statement pieces and custom orders are what draw hospitality buyers to his showroom. While retail buyers are choosing from the designs on the floor, his hospitality clients, “have a vision of what they want. You might go from one of your existing designs and modify it, or you start from scratch,” he says. They’re looking for bold products, tall pieces that can make a big impression, and modular shapes that can be arranged and used in a number of ways.

One of the most popular items in the Pasha Home showroom for commercial spaces, is an oversized round ottoman. Because of its size, too large in scale for a home but perfect for a hotel lobby, “It tells hospitality buyers that we can do what they’re looking for,” says Kural.

Custom Rules

Matouk

In bedding and textiles, it’s a slightly different story. Eugene Paceleo, director of hotel sales of John Matouk & Co., notes that hospitality buyers who frequent his Atlanta showroom are looking for trendsetting textiles that can be adapted to the wear and tear of commercial use.

“We do a lot of delicate, high thread count bedding,” says Paceleo. “These might be applicable to presidential suites, but for the most part it’s at a price point where it may not be the optimal purchase for hoteliers. But we can change the base fabric to a lower thread count percale or sateen, and fade-resistant cotton tape.” This achieves a similar look but with a more durable fabric that can withstand frequent washings in commercial machines.

Thompson of Up Country Home echoes the idea that hospitality-geared items must have more durability than something destined for a consumer home. “A chair must withstand thousands of impressions, or wallpaper must be able to be washed. If a product isn’t durable then it won’t be considered by an experienced hospitality designer,” she says.

Paceleo says that while white bedding has been the standard in hotel bedding—a trend that’s also translated to retail—a new, younger breed of hoteliers is pushing the envelope with touches of color and other elements of differentiation. “A duvet cover might be made of a heavier fabric,” he says. “There might be a bright throw or runner, or a satin stitch in a contrast color. They’re trying to achieve something a little different in the rooms, something that can be a hotel’s signature.”

As with Pasha Home, Matouk sees a lot of custom business, which the company can nimbly address with its factory in Fall River, Mass., which keeps rolls of fabrics on hand that can be cut and sewn to order with no minimums. “If you have a suite and you need a silver cotton coverlet in a specific size, we can do that for you, there’s no issue with minimums and reorders,” says Paceleo.

Broad Choices

Uttermost

With vendors that can accommodate custom needs, or which have the kinds of bold statement pieces that hospitality buyers are seeking, AmericasMart is an increasingly important resource for commercial properties. Thompson says that in the past, she saw few hospitality designers at AmericasMart, but she is seeing more and more. She believes this is in part because an increased number of residential designers are focusing on hospitality projects.

“Hospitality buyers and designers are finding AmericasMart a necessary source for their needs,” says Porter. “In turn, they are pushing our capabilities as designers and manufacturers, to attract a buyer that might not otherwise have been our intended market.”

For more information:
John Matouk & Co., 508.997.3444, matouk.com; Montes Doggett, 866.834.9857, montesdoggett.com; Pasha Home, 336.889.2114, pashahome.com; Up Country Home, 404.749.4749, upcountryhome.com; Uttermost, 800.678.5486, uttermost.com.

Images courtesy of Uttermost, Pasha Home, John Matouk & Co., and Montes Doggett

Purchasing with a Purpose

AmericasMart buyers can take good work to heart
By Mandy Roth

Today’s consumers expect more from the companies they buy from and the products they use in their homes. They desire attributes beyond function and beauty; they want to make the world a better place by purchasing products with a purpose. Many AmericasMart exhibitors include philanthropy as a major tenet of their businesses, offering end consumers an opportunity to contribute to a greater good.

Half United; Full Commitment
Half United founders Carmin Black and her brother Christian didn’t set out to better the world through their professional lives. Yet that is exactly the path they now navigate. Each purchase of one of their company’s apparel items or accessories provides food to hungry children. To date, their customers have made possible more than 200,000 meals for children in the United States and around the world.

“Everything we’ve been through in life led us to this point,” says Carmin, a former television reporter, who later worked as a public speaker for TOMS—the company that set new standards in corporate philanthropy by donating a pair of shoes to needy kids for each pair purchased.

All elements of her past coalesced during an enthusiastic speaking appearance. She recalled memories growing up as a pastor’s daughter in a family where every male member was in the clergy, as well as her mother’s endeavors in the fashion industry. She remembered the mission trips in which she and her brother participated. She was reminded of her service as her sorority’s philanthropic chairperson. The energy created by the combination of charity, business and brand passion fused for her in front of that audience. It was one of those moments that changed everything that happened next.

She placed a call to Christian, who was in L.A. trying to launch an apparel business, suggesting that they join forces to create a company with a charitable focus. They borrowed $200 from their mother and the venture has grown in the years since. They now sell a variety of goods, including jewelry and T-shirts. Some of their most popular items feature recycled bullet casings, turning a symbol of harm into a sign of hope, representing their fight against hunger.

TOMS, Carmin believes, cracked the code that unites business and philanthropy by communicating the impact each consumer has on the world by buying one of their products. For Half United, that unique formula means that each time a product is purchased, seven children receive meals. “Hunger is something every human can relate to,” says Carmin.

The founders closely vet the charities they work with around the world. On a trip to Haiti, for instance, they examined the operations of Papillion Enterprise, an organization that employs local artisans to make some of the jewelry Half United sells, providing a source of income so impoverished parents can feed their children.

Carmin insisted on accompanying one of the workers home, a journey down dirt roads and over a ravine filled with trash and goats. They eventually entered a shantytown, navigating four-foot wide alleys through the shacks. When they arrived at the worker’s home, the mother shifted a plywood door to the side, proudly showing off her kitchen, featuring charcoal on a dirt floor. “Where do you sleep?” queried the entrepreneur. The woman revealed a second room where her children slept on packing materials—the same ones used by the charitable organization to ship jewelry to Half United. “My heart hurt for them,” says Carmin, who purchased proper mattresses for the family before leaving the country.

While Carmin and her brother are literally in the trenches at times, she points out that the retailers who sell Half United’s products—and the consumers who buy them—are the ones making the difference. “You have no idea how much your purchase matters in the lives of people around the world. Ultimately, you are the ones feeding people; we just facilitate that transaction.”

Sari Bari: Rescue From the Red Light
When secondhand saris gain new life as accessories and home goods, the women in India who make these products secure access to freedom from lives in the sex trade. The extraordinary goods available through Sari Bari offer employment opportunities for women who want to escape the red light district of Kolkata, India, as well as young women in outlying villages, who are vulnerable to being trafficked.

Each blanket, handbag, accessory or baby item is sewn using the traditional Kantha stitch, unique to the creator’s personal style. No two pieces are identical. Living in India, Sari Bari founder Sarah Lance established the company a decade ago when she personally witnessed the plight of these women and determined she would do something to make a difference in their lives. Goods are sold in the U.S. through a non-profit organization.

Today’s consumers are interested in one-of-a-kind products and want to know the stories behind the things they purchase, explains Merilee Rowe, the company’s sales and operations manager. Sari Bari deepens that connection because the 120 women the company employs stitch their names inside the items they create. During their first year of training, they are known generically as “Mukti.” After the first year, each graduates to using her own name. Their “freedom birthday” is celebrated annually, and employees are given opportunities to rise into management, providing further opportunities for a better life.

“Sari Bari products are special because retailers and consumers know the products are directly tied to impacting a women on the other side of the world,” says Merilee. “That artisan is creating something beautiful, and you are empowering her to do that by purchasing her product.”

Imagine Home: Third World Artisans; First World Designs
When interior designer Staci Lantz toured South Africa with the founder of TOMS Shoes in 2007, she was inspired by his company’s commitment to social responsibility. She returned with a new plan for her life, an idea to add a greater sense of purpose to her profession and an approach to American consumerism that would contribute to the betterment of others.

She’s spent her time since touring the world, meeting artisans in communities where she could source creations conceived by her, along with her design partners. The result is Imagine Home, a collaborative effort between third-world artisans and first-world designers.

The company takes first world product designs and commissions impoverished people in artisan communities around the world to handcraft the items. “By using our industry experience in design, we create a product that is desirable to consumers; by commissioning people in need, we create an income-generating opportunity for them,” according to Imagine Home’s website. The 2016 collection includes lighting, rugs, tabletop, upholstery and bedding from Haiti, Peru, Africa and India. Many items feature 100 percent organic and recycled materials. Also in the line-up: hand-knitted baby alpaca bedding and handsome horn and bone products.

“Staci has spent time in each of the communities we work with, as well as with each artisan, developing the product with them,” says Katie Gable, Imagine Home’s showroom manager at AmericasMart. “Instead of purchasing a product that is mass produced, each item we offer is individually created by someone’s hand. The buyer may never meet the artisan, but there is a connection back to them and you are contributing to the economy in their communities across the world.”

Stephen Joseph: A Connection with Kids
When Rick Taylor, president of Stephen Joseph, returns home each evening, he has a wonderful reminder of the good things his company is doing in the world. His daughter was adopted from a Russian orphanage that his business supports through its philanthropic efforts.

Giving back is something this company takes seriously. Established 30 years ago as a sorority products specialist, it grew and diversified over time into a variety of businesses. Stephen Joseph is the parent company, as well as the name of its successful kids lifestyle brand. In 2013, executives decided to bolster the business’ charitable endeavors, and sought to support organizations that focused on kids. One recent initiative raised $250,000 from the sale of certain products, with donations contributed to No Kid Hungry, Children’s Scholarship Fund and Little Kids Rock.

Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph

Karma, the company’s lifestyle brand, which features popular handbags, accessories, home and travel products, gives five percent of its gross sales to numerous charities, including the Russian orphanage. Other endeavors include providing filtered water in Nepal; paying teacher’s salaries a school in a poverty stricken area of Cambodia; and supporting Food Backpacks for Kids, which provides weekend food to kids in need. In addition to special projects, the company makes ongoing donations to organizations such as the American Diabetes Association.

“Given the choice between two similar products, if one has a ‘give back’ component, it affects the end-consumer’s buying habits,” says Rick. “It’s a selling point for buyers to communicate information about where a portion of consumers’ money is going.” While the executive is enthusiastic about all the charities his company supports, the ones that tug at his heartstrings are focused on children. “We love kids,” he says. “They don’t have the ability to help themselves, so we are passionate about helping them.”


For more information: Imagine Home; Half United – halfunited.com; Sari Bari – saribari.com; and Stephen Joseph – stephenjosephgifts.com

Images courtesy of Stephen Joseph, Sari Bari and Half United

The World of Rugs in Atlanta

How any retailer or designer can shop and sell rugs
by Alix G. Perachon

Only a few years ago, there was a sharp divide between items that are handmade and those that are machine made. Decorative carpets are generally designated as handknotted and flatwoven rugs, both antique and new, exhibiting classic oriental and European designs. Meanwhile, handtufted and machine made rug patterns were typically more limited.

Today’s buyer has an unparalleled choice of rugs at all price points ranging from traditional to contemporary and from handmade to machine made. Thanks to revolutionary technological advances in construction and materials, machine made area rugs now offer a level of artistry and durability that was a dream a decade ago. Hence the latest color and design trends are no longer reserved for the high-end boutique rug market, but are universal regardless of the carpet’s creation—handknotted, handtufted, flatwoven or machine made.

As the rug is the foundation of the room, what better time to learn the basics and shop at Market? Here are need-to-know decorative area rug facts to guide you as you explore the exciting January Market.

A Kaleidoscope of Color and Design

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Produced in a variety of handmade and machine woven constructions, these are among the most important area rug design types that you will view at Market:

1.Traditional: Patterns are inspired from age-old oriental designs in mainly traditional colors originating from regions including Persia, Turkey, and China including Sultanabad, Tabriz, Serapi and Oushak.

2. Transitional: Transitional rugs have been a leading force in the last five years concurrent with the casual, informal look popular in interior design. Often integrating classic and contemporary elements in the same piece, they are available in a virtually infinite range of styles. These are some of the looks falling under the transitional rug umbrella:

Oriental—Traditional oriental rug patterns—including Sultanabad, Tabriz, Serapi, Oushak, and Central Asian—exhibit a modern twist with a broad range of contemporary colors such as various shades of grey, cream, blue, and aubergine.

Ikat—Inspired from southeast Asian tie-dyed textiles, these boldly patterned rugs come in a variety of colors.

Vintage—These are generally 30-to-60-year-old oriental rugs whose colors are often chemically washed to create a more subdued “shabby chic” effect. There are also reproduction vintage-style rugs.

Over-dyed—These can be vintage pieces or reproductions that have been “over-dyed” in mainly vivid colors—including neon greens, oranges, purples, and electric blues. Patterns are often intentionally partly “erased” to create a distinctive offbeat look.

3. Moroccan: Ranging from the authentic handcrafted nomadic pieces from Morocco to reproductions, Moroccan-style carpets are characterized by ivory, brown, black, and multicolored backgrounds with geometric motifs including squares, oblongs and diamonds.

4. Contemporary: These rugs range from subdued monochromatics to graphic geometrics and florals. Avant-garde designs—including painterly impressionist and cubist patterns have revolutionized the area rug repertoire. The finest pieces are considered modern works of art in their own right—generally handknotted or handwoven in all-natural materials such as wool and silk—but cost a fraction of contemporary paintings. While Nepal has been at the forefront of contemporary rugs, other countries of production are now also involved.

Texture, Texture and More Texture
Texture, rather than pattern, plays a key role in determining the beauty of many contemporary carpets. Traditionally, decorative rugs were mainly either pile (e.g., handknotted, handtufted, and power-loomed) or flatwoven by hand or machine. Now an impressive array of construction techniques, often combined in the same piece, create sophisticated textural effects. For instance, “high low” rugs feature a combined pile and flatweave construction where the design is raised pile and the ground is flatwoven. Subtle textural variations are also obtained with a variety of cut and loop pile techniques.

Tonal rugs’ exquisite subtlety is achieved through techniques including the artful shading of hues, known as abrash, which creates richness and depth. Moreover, natural silk or silk-like materials (e.g., bamboo and banana silks and viscose) often accent specific areas or are blended with other materials, such as wool, to create a more lustrous effect. Additional materials used to produce textural effects include aloe, linen, and jute. Never before has there been a more exciting time to shop for decorative rugs. Now it’s your turn to discover what’s making the area rug market tick.

Vibrant New Home for Rug Temps
During The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring the National Oriental Rug Show sponsored by ORIA, buyers have the opportunity to explore collections from a broad spectrum of exhibitors. In addition to the showroom offerings, the temporary exhibits have a new home on Floor 7 of Building 1. Proximity to some of the top home accents, furnishings, linens and textiles companies in the industry creates a unique synergy.

“Locating our area rug temporaries so close to our home temporaries creates a seamless buying experience. Our rug temps have long been a staple of savvy home buyers, and now they can shop and source these exhibitors even more conveniently,” says Kevin Malkiewicz, vice president of leasing for AmericasMart.

Retailers and designers can conveniently source a variety of exceptional rugs from across the globe as they shop other categories. “As the floor is often the first thing the eye notices when you enter a room, decorative rugs are a key element in interior design,” says Alix Perrachon, principal of Alix Unlimited, LLC. “Decorating has never been easier thanks to your ability to select rugs from a dazzling array of styles and price points, all conveniently located in one building at AmericasMart together with the latest in home accents, furnishings, and linens collections.”

The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring the National Oriental Rug Show sponsored by ORIA runs Wednesday, January 11 – Sunday, January 15, 2017. The Temporaries are open in Building 1, Floor 7 from Thursday, January 12 –  Monday, January 16 and select showrooms on Floors 3 – 6 are open through Tuesday, January 17.


Acknowledgment: The author would like to thank Reza Momeni of Momeni, Inc. and Alex Peykar of Nourison for their invaluable information.

Alix G. Perrachon is a writer, speaker, and consultant in the rug industry to the interior design trade. She is the author of The Decorative Carpet—Fine Handmade Rugs in Contemporary Interiors published by The Monacelli Press/Random House, the only book to feature rugs from the decorative standpoint, and of countless articles on oriental and decorative weavings and antiques. An ASID CEU-certified speaker, she has lectured on decorative rugs all over the country. She was an international judge for the Carpet Design Awards in Hanover, Germany and moderated the decorative rug panel at the Architectural Digest Design Show/New York Times Design Series in 2016.

An Interior Designer’s Guide to Shopping at AmericasMart

Welcome to January Market! See Brian Patrick Flynn’s take on the top tips for interior designers shopping at AmericasMart—they’re sure to come in handy for your Market week.

More Quick Tips for Market

  • Download and use the AmericasMart app. It’s the Market must-have and a FREE buyer tool that allows you to search for exhibitors, lines, categories, events and more, navigate campus by buildings and floors, and easily access your customizable Market Plan.
  • Study the color-coded building schematic in the Atlanta Buyer’s Guide (pick one up at Registration) and match your purchase plan to the categories and floors.
  • First time to Market? Whether you are an interior designer or retail buyer, we invite you to attend one of the New Buyer Breakfast orientations with our Retail Services team for help with anything you need: Thursday, January 12 – Saturday, January 14, 2017, from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. in the Building 3, Floor 11, Buyer’s Lounge, 11-W359.

Note: Information presented in this video is subject to change at any time. Visit AmericasMart.com for current policies, registration requirements and general information. 

A Reason to Celebrate

Commemorating 20 Years of Holiday & Floral/Home Décor
By Helen Anne

It’s party time! Holiday & Floral/Home Décor is marking 20 years of success with a celebration during the January 2017 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. The product center, initially marketed using the “Art of Christmas,” has expanded to include celebrations that create family traditions.

Executing a new exhibit concept in 1996, AmericasMart redesigned space in Building 1, brought exhibitors with substantial Christmas lines together into one area and began promoting products designed for holiday celebrations. By focusing marketing efforts on a certain type of product located in a collective space, AmericasMart hoped to increase traffic to all exhibitors.

Loyal From the Beginning
Vaillancourt Folk Art, owned by Gary and Judi Vaillancourt, manufactures highly-detailed, hand-painted chalkware collectibles. The company was one of the first exhibitors to move to the 20th floor where artist-driven companies are highlighted. Gary Vaillancourt says the move has been very profitable for their business. “Right now, [the 20th floor] is probably the place to go in the show,” he says. “We see every major department store and every major catalog.”

Vaillancourt-AmericasMart AtlantaIn the beginning, however, it took creativity to develop foot traffic in the new center. The Vaillancourts relied on appointments with large buyers, but worked diligently with fellow exhibitors to build business with smaller buyers. “We would do different things,” Gary Vaillancourt says. “We would have scavenger hunts and Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts.” He even admitted to having photos of himself dancing a tango with Bethany Lowe, another early exhibitor in the product center.

Bethany Lowe, artist and creative director at Bethany Lowe Designs, remembers those early days well. Her company specializes in one-of-a-kind, collectible Christmas figurines and ornaments, as well as products for other holidays and family celebrations. She still designs and hand-finishes her high-end products, while her daughter Erin Glennon serves as CEO.

Lowe says she sent three Santa figurines to her first Atlanta Market more than 25 years ago. “I sold out my production for the year with one show,” she says. “After that, I was hooked on Atlanta.”

When the product center opened in the mid-1990s, it didn’t take long for Bethany Lowe Designs to move in. “We jumped on board on the 20th floor in the second year, and we’re really happy we did,” Lowe says. “It was appealing to me that the Mart was willing to offer dedicated showrooms to a select group of artists.”

All About the Relationships
Bethany Lowe - AmericasMart AtlantaBoth Bethany Lowe and Gary Vaillancourt credit the close-knit community of exhibitors with helping them maintain a competitive edge. Glennon echoes those sentiments. “We’ve been in a prime location for going on 20 years,” Glennon says. “People know where we are, and we’re absolutely a destination. That recognition is based, in part, on the relationships we’ve built in that building—from fellow exhibitors to the AmericasMart staff.”

Stephanie Voss, director of marketing for K&K Interiors, says her company also found a home in Holiday & Floral/Home Décor because K&K had an emphasis on the Holiday product category. Since first exhibiting on floors 19 and 20, K&K has experienced sales growth each year, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. “The shows represent a reunion of sorts for us because many of our customers are like family since they have been doing business with us for so long,” Voss says. “The ambiance is always upbeat with music, the smell of baked cookies, laughter and plenty of hugs.”

Kurt S. Adler is also celebrating an anniversary this year – the company’s 70th. Founded just after the end of World War II by Kurt Adler, the company is guided today by his children – Howard, Clifford and Karen. As the decades passed, the company has modified its product line from European traditions such as Black Forest Christmas Trees to blown glass ornaments, bubble-blowers and limited edition ornaments. With a nod to the past, its collection of Hollywood Nutcrackers has been popular for the past decade, and animatronics, fiber optic trees and interactive advent calendars carry it into the future.

Always Evolving and Growing
Julie H. Fry, CEO of Select Artificials, has had a decades-long association with AmericasMart, but only moved to Building 1 in late 2014 with a grand opening in the new space in January 2015. With the expanded showroom, Fry says Select Artificials continues to welcome both long-standing and new clients. “It is a great way for old friends, I mean customers, to see our product in a different venue,” she says. “It reinforces relationships.”

Building 1, Floor 20 - AmericasMart AtlantaAnother relatively new exhibitor in Holiday & Floral/Home Décor is Kaemingk, an international company focused on seasonal products from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Easter to summer gardens. Mark Hooper, USA sales manager for Kaemingk, says the company’s experience has been so positive, it’s making an investment in its showroom this year. “We see Atlanta as one of the strongest markets in the U.S. and Building 1 the best place for our type of products,” he says. “We’re expanding our showroom for the 2017 January Market,” he says, “doubling our space from 7,000 to 14,000 sq. ft.”

As Holiday & Floral/Home Décor moves into its third decade, exhibitors are excited about the future. They expect their products to stay rooted in Christmas with continued expansion into Halloween, Easter, spring, Valentine’s Day and family traditions. They also have great plans to introduce their products to new buyers.

Join the exhibitors on Friday, January 13, from 4 – 7 p.m. as they celebrate 20 years of Holiday & Floral on Floor 20 and visit all the Holiday & Floral/Home Décor showrooms in Building 1, Floors 16-20 during January Market. And, keep in mind many exhibitors are Open Year Round between Markets as well.

Images courtesy of Bethany Lowe and Vaillancourt Folk Art.

Ho Ho Holiday Returns

What to do when returns come back to your store.
The holiday season can bring a lot of joy for shoppers and a slew of sales for retailers. But in the season of giving, there are inevitable returns.

We asked retailer and trend expert Steve McKenzie of steve mckenzie’s and Joni Vanderslice, interior designer and owner of J. Banks Design, and retailer of J. Banks Retail, for their advice on how to best handle holiday returns so they don’t become holiday hassles.

Joni Vanderslice

Joni Vanderslice

 

Turn a Design Return Into a Retail Offering
“We are in a unique business as we have both interior design clients as well as retail clients so we have to face both angles when it comes to returns. Returns from design clients, although not encouraged, are sometimes advantageous to our retail store. We know that the item was selected by one of our designers, so generally, it’s great looking.” – Joni Vanderslice

Steve McKenzie

Steve McKenzie

 

Be Upfront About Your Policy
“First make sure your return policy is clear and available; we have it on our receipts. We only do in-store credit and that at least makes sure that they leave with something from the store and you are not out the cash.” – Steve McKenzie

 

Re-merchandise With a Story
“Returns have sometimes actually served us well by filling a spot on the retail floor that was vacant after an unexpected merchandise turn. We market these pieces as curated selections from our design team and retail shoppers love the story.” – Joni Vanderslice

Get Creative & Think Beyond Holiday
“A lot of the Christmas we buy will also cycle through as red items for Valentine’s Day or when merchandised together looks holiday, but can be merchandised with everyday following the holidays. For example, the R. Wood Studios pottery can be merchandised with all the colors and fit an everyday theme.” – Steve McKenzie

steve mckenzie's

steve mckenzie’s

 

Provide Flexibility to Keep Customers
“We believe accommodating returns with a service driven approach creates long-term shoppers. People are coming to us for the experience. Providing client flexibility makes them more apt to shop our store, take more things to try in their home, which ultimately leads to more sales that stick.” – Joni Vanderslice

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J. Banks Retail

Make the Experience Positive
“I think a merchant’s attitude toward customer service sets the tone on how you move forward with a customer. If someone brings in a return following the holiday, this is a chance to sell them more! Usually we give the in-store credit and they end up buying something that is more expensive. Making sure to create a positive, fun experience keeps them coming back and telling their friends.” – Steve McKenzie

Upsell the Return
“Retail returns are never met with enthusiasm; however, it gives our enthusiastic sales staff the opportunity to upsell with something that would suit the client’s need better. With the new selection, there’s an opportunity to talk and connect with the person, finding out more about them, which in turn allows us to better tailor suggestions at that moment and for the future.”  – Joni Vanderslice

About Steve, steve mckenzie’s

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steve mckenzie’s

Steve and Jill McKenzie opened steve mckenzie’s interiors and lifestyle store in September 2012. The brand offers a design sensibility that converges two fundamental influences—the graciousness that they have grown to appreciate while living in the South and their personal love for the mid-century modern aesthetic. The store combines products designed by Steve and Jill McKenzie with handmade pieces from Southern artisans. The cornerstone of the store’s offerings is steve mckenzie’s textile designs that are derived from the canvases of Steve’s artwork. Learn more at stevemckenzies.com.

Hear from Steve in person this January at the Home for the Holidays: Setting the Trends in Tabletop & Seasonal Décor event during Market.

About Joni Vanderslice, J. Banks Design

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J. Banks Retail

ASID, president and owner of J. Banks Design, Joni Vanderslice founded her multi-discipline design firm thirty years ago. Since then, she has nurtured the Hilton Head Island-based operation into an internationally recognized force in residential and resort design. The firm’s residential, resort, and clubhouse interiors have been widely published in a multitude of shelter and trade publicationsAt her store, J. Banks Retail, Joni and her buying team bring together specialty pieces and small treasures that are not widely accessible. Learn more at jbanksdesign.com.

Don’t forget to see Joni’s design picks in her vignette at the Diamonds of Design Vignette Exhibition, in Building 1, Floor 14, Vignette Gallery, 14-D-9.


For a full list of Market events happening during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, January 10 – 17, 2017, visit AmericasMart.com/Events.

Jaime’s Coconut Cake – a Recipe From Paula Deen

Jamie’s Coconut Cake – a Recipe From Paula Deen

paula-deen-cakeCake:
Servings: 1 three-layer cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake recipe, but substitute 1 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk for regular milk

Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 Tablespoons milk
1/2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut

Frosting:
7 Minute Frosting recipe
Flaked, sweetened coconut for sprinkling

Directions:
Follow directions for Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake, substituting coconut milk for regular milk. While cake is baking, prepare filling. Stir together sugar, sour cream, milk and coconut in a bowl until well blended. Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pan as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Using the wrong end (handle) of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately one inch apart until entire cake has been poked. Spread one third of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again. (As I stack layers together, I stick them with toothpicks to prevent the cake from shifting.) You can place the cake in the refrigerator for up to three days to allow it to absorb the filling mixture.

7-Minute Frosting
Servings: Frosting for 1 layer cake or approximately 8-12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 7 min
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
1/3 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 Tablespoon white corn syrup
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water and egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat for one minute with a handheld electric mixer. Using the double boiler method, place the bowl over the top of rapidly boiling water, making sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top bowl. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy.) Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the boiler and gently stir in vanilla with a spatula.

Prepare 7-Minute Frosting. Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with additional coconut.


Join celebrity chef and author Paula Depaula-2en at Market on Friday, January 13, 2017 at 1 p.m. in the Fiesta Dinnerware Demonstration Kitchen located in Building 2, Floor 8. She’ll prepare her famous Ooey Gooey Butter Cake while sharing fun and heartwarming stories about her family and friends. In celebration of the new Paula Deen Décor launch with Young’s, Inc., attend a meet and greet in their showroom located in Building 2, Floor 13, 1318 immediately following at 2:45 p.m. You’ll receive a complimentary gift and one-on-one time with Paula.

Learn more about The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market® and register today.