Happy Holidays!

2016_holidaytrends_sm_r3-011. Winward International 2. Melrose International, LLC 3. Coton Colors, Inc. 4. Grasslands Road/Amscan, Inc. 5. Abbott 6. K & K Interiors, Inc. 7. Creative Co-Op, Inc. 8. Allstate Floral, Inc. 9. Mud Pie, LLC 10. Hester & Cook Design Group 11. Mud Pie, LLC 12. Seeka and Yoolie’s 13. Kaemingk International 14. TAG – Trade Associates Group 15. DEMDACO 16. Arcadia Home

Shop Holiday & Floral/Home Décor, plus an array of Gift products, during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market,® January 10 – 17, 2017, and select showrooms open year-round.

Holiday Decorating Tips

For most retailers and designers it’s definitely looking a lot like Christmas. 

How can buyers make the most of seasonal décor? We asked the decorators extraordinaire at Studio M  Executive Vice President and General Manager Tammy Hickel, Senior Director of Product Development Anne Brown and Marketing Coordinator Maura Lodes  for their tips for making the season and the upcoming Market merry and bright. 

What trend are you most excited about for Holiday 2016?

holidaytrends-merrimentartplanters_studiom_rgb Holiday décor for 2016 features lots of black, white and red color schemes and has a classic, homespun feel that we just love. Popular nubby knits, burlap and muslin give a warm, relaxed feel that’s perfect for the holidays. The red-and-white ticking stripe and large-scale buffalo check seen throughout this year’s holiday décor provide a nice pop of pattern. We’re really excited about all of the natural elements like birch, pinecones and antlers that are being woven into holiday décor for 2016. These characteristics can be seen throughout Nordic, woodland and forest themes that are very trendy this winter.

What are your tips for customers decorating their homes?

unexpectedholidaydecor-gypsygarden_studiom_rgbOur advice is to create something unexpected. The holidays are all about that sense of wonderment and joy, and your décor can reflect that. Decorate in unexpected places — put a small Christmas tree in your child’s room, add a fun holiday pillow to the bed in your guest room, or brighten up the space above your kitchen cabinets with Christmas decorations. Think of the areas in your house that you may not always pay attention to, and add a little something there for the holidays.

For outdoor holiday decorating, think of ways to create a welcoming front door statement that reflects your personality and is seasonally relevant. Many people are looking for outdoor décor to accomplish this goal, and that’s a huge reason why we’ve expanded our seasonal flag collections to include Art Planters, Art Poles and other outdoor décor. We encourage people to think beyond just lights and candy canes. There are so many unique ways to decorate — festive Art Planters and a coordinating MatMate at the front door, a holiday terrarium full of colorful mini garden items as a centerpiece — think outside the box!

What are your tips for retailers decorating their stores?

retailertips-gifts-to-go_artpots_studiom_rgbCreative merchandising is key to generating sales. Shoppers can’t resist stopping to “ooh” and “ahh” at a clever display. Welcoming seasonal décor and an attractive display in a window will draw people in, giving them an opportunity to see everything your store has to offer. That doesn’t mean you have to spend big bucks on extra holiday decorations — use as much product as possible to decorate your store. For example, use monogram garden flags to spell out a festive message like “Let it snow” or “Ho Ho Ho.” This way, your store showcases its own merchandise and helps to decorate it at the same time!

Another great way to approach a display is to use your products to tell a color story. Pull everyday red or green products into a Christmas display — they’ll fit right in and feel more like a holiday item when surrounded by seasonal products. Don’t underestimate the power of a little holiday ribbon to turn everyday items into Christmas gifts.

Special Tip: Many plain red and green items can move forward into Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day displays, giving those products a longer life.

holidaytrends-winterpalette_studiom_rgbWe also advise retailers to make shopping as easy as possible for their customers. Create pre-wrapped gifts-to-go for different recipients – mom, dad, friend, hostess, etc. Think about all the unique items you have in your store and turn them into containers to hold additional product. We find that our 6-inch Art Pots are great to fill with holiday gourmet treats or unique personal care items. Not only are gifts-to-go convenient for shoppers, they’re also a great way to increase the average sale for the retailer. Set some by the register or checkout area for those last-minute impulse buys.

Special Tip: Another great way to increase sales and help shoppers find great gifts is to create a “Staff Favorite” or “Item of the Week” that can be promoted and suggested by staff.

What trends do you see emerging for Holiday 2017?

Next year’s holiday trends will be somewhat of a derivative of 2016, but with lots of white-on-white and green-and-white color schemes. Textural elements will prevail and homespun, cozy-cabin themes will expand, but in a cleaner, more refined way — kind of a mid-century-modern-meets-cabin look. We’ll see more woodland animal elements like antlers and snowy owls as the wise, nocturnal birds continue to be a strong trend.

holidaytrends-shoplocalThe shop local movement will continue to have a large influence on trends for 2017. City and state pride will remain a popular theme in both décor and gift items, as communities’ support for independent retailers grows. We don’t want to give too much away, but retailers can expect to see some state-themed products from Studio M at summer markets in 2017!

The farm-to-table movement is picking up steam and the desire to grow food at home is increasing. As more people spend time in their outdoor spaces and learn about gardening, gifts for gardeners will become a big part of the holidays for 2017. These can range from decorative gifts such as mini garden items or a festive Art Planter to functional products like a birdhouse or birdbath.

 What are your Market shopping tips?

newproducts-kaleidoscopemobiles_studiom_rgbOur biggest tip for retailers is to come to market with a Buying Plan. Take stock of all your current inventory and future needs. Then determine your budget by deciding how much product you need to buy to reach your target sales volume for the season. Identify every product category that you need in order to drive business in your store, and then allocate dollars to each area. This will ensure that you are purchasing the right mix of products for your store and save you from buying too much of one category and too little of another. Make sure to hold back some reserve dollars for hot new items or product categories you find at market that weren’t in your plan. Your Buying Plan will be a huge help in figuring out when you’ve purchased enough of each category and make it easy to see what areas still need to be filled in.

Special Tip: Ask vendors if they have any best-seller lists that they can show you. While best sellers do not work in every region or store, they can be a good place to start!

Do some research before market and decide which vendors you’d like to visit. Look through trade publications and the Market Magazine to see what catches your eye and make a list of vendors you can’t miss. Once you have your list, map out a schedule of when to visit each showroom. Don’t forget to leave time to look for new items or to stop by vendors that weren’t on your initial list. When making your schedule, plan to get your essential items first. There will be lots to see and you don’t want to get distracted by too many new products and leave market without ordering the necessities.

Special Tip: Take advantage of showrooms like OneCoast that open early in the morning and close late in the evening. This way, you can visit more vendors per day.

newproducts-cambriaartplanters_studiom_rgbAnother thing many retailers find very helpful is working with their local rep whenever possible. Reps know the product well and are a great source of information. They can tell you what has been selling well in your area and help you make better-informed purchasing decision to help round out your offering. They also may be aware of special incentives being offered on products.

Special Tip: Schedule your showroom visits by floor so you don’t waste any time waiting for the elevator in order to go up and down the building throughout the day.

You’re going to see some amazing merchandising ideas and unique ways to display product as you make your way through the mart. Bring a camera to photograph anything that inspires you or that you may want to replicate in your store. Not every vendor allows photos to be taken, so make sure to ask permission first. At Studio M, we love when retailers take photographs! While flattering, it is one of the biggest reasons we spend so much time planning out and creating our displays, We want retailers to get inspired and take ideas home that will help them be more successful.

We hope these tips ensure that you have a smooth and successful market! Stop by and see Studio M at our main showroom in The Gardens (9-B-84, Bldg. 2) or in the OneCoast showroom on the 18th floor of Building 2.

In addition to our five floors of Holiday and Floral merchandise in Building 1, retailers and designers can also find holiday merchandise in The Gardens®. Shop the collection at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, January 10 – 17, 2017, and use our Market Plan to create your budget and plan your visit.

Images courtesy of Studio M.

Hosting a Seasonal Open House with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga.  He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.


With the holidays quickly approaching, get your business and customers in the spirit by hosting a seasonal open house. This can be something as simple as snacks and beverages during the day or a great sale after hours. This is an opportunity for you to thank your customers for their business, as well as successfully gain new customers for the holiday season and months following.

AWH_PHOTO-9231TIMING IS KEY

Planning an event around the holidays can be stressful. With new merchandise coming in, busy store hours and even busier customers, it can be hard to find the right time. Planning in November with Thanksgiving approaching is a great time. Christmas shopping is on the customer’s mind and it will help them begin planning early, without worrying about other holiday events. Sunday evenings work well for events such as these with shoppers already around town after morning events or breakfast.

SET YOUR THEME

Set a fun theme as the basis for your event, such as a classic Christmas song like ‘White Christmas.’ Carry the theme throughout your in-store decorations, window decorations or food items. Don’t forget the holiday music! This is a great idea to help get customers in the mindset of the holidays while shopping.

INVITE PARTICIPATING GUESTS

Invite other vendors to participate in your open house, overall attracting more guests to the event. Contact your favorite local photographer to document the event or set around a few Polaroid cameras for customers to use on their own. You can use the photos on your social media accounts to promote your event for years to come. Looking for something for the kids? Invite Santa and his helpers and have your photographer there to take photos as needed. These can be sold through packaging deals and will make great gifts for parents.

OFFER REFRESHMENTSAWH_PHOTO-0771

Collaborate with local caterers, bakeries or cooks to offer refreshments at your event. Donated samples of their items offer a chance for them to promote themselves and sell items if they choose to do so. If local customers have cookbooks, welcome them to bring a few samples made from their book and offer them the chance to sell their cookbook in store during the event. You can have signs made to promote the event or advertise your event on social media and include the local food options that will be available.

CREATE AN INVITE LIST

Check out your customer email list for a start on creating the invitation list. Of course, all customers and the public passing by will be welcome to your event, but getting the word out ahead of time will be essential. Send invitations via email or through traditional mail to whomever you have information for. Reaching out to men will be helpful on their end, as well. Let them know that employees will be available for any shopping assistance they may need.

HELPFUL TIPS

Here are a few other helpful tips for planning and organizing your seasonal open house event. We recommend not trying to gift wrap that day, as the store will be busy and require attention. Instead, offer a redeemable ticket for them to come back the following week to have their gifts wrapped. This will give them the chance to return to the store AWH_PHOTO-8686for a less crowded, more personable experience. Not only is a seasonal open house event a great way to draw in more business, but it also sets you apart from other businesses around town. It gives you the opportunity to get the store decorated prior to the holidays and see what pieces in your store sold well, giving you enough time to reorder before the holiday season really begins.

The holidays are such a fun time for business owners, so why not share some of the fun with your customers?

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.
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Make Your Holiday Shopping List – in March

While there are glimpses of spring in some parts of the country, mounds of snow cover the ground in other regions. Forget sunshine and jonquils for a moment, let’s talk Christmas. Why? Because March is the last chance for retailers to book orders for the 2015 holiday season.

ESC Trading Co. Industry veterans understand the prolonged ordering season but newcomers or those who don’t carry a lot of product might not realize how critical timing is in the world of tinsel, wreaths and twinkling lights. Manufacturing orders are placed based on the orders written at the beginning of the year during January Markets. That means March is the last order-writing opportunity for many of the most popular holiday products. Otherwise, they’ll simply be sold out.

Such long lead times makes it absolutely vital for retailers to know their customers so they can accurately anticipate what they’ll need – and want – when the holiday season rolls around again. If a retailer waits until a customer comes in and asks Midwest for something, it’s probably too late to order it. Stores have to have plan ahead for what shoppers will want before they even start thinking about summer vacations.

When shopping for the 2015 season, there are several concepts to keep in mind. Look for gilded glam with lots of gold; soft monochromatic with silver and pastels, rustic woodland colors and textures and luxe bejeweled pieces. All those choices should mean there’s something to delight every customer as soon as they finish Halloween candy and hit the stores for Christmas décor.

Sullivans           Melrose International           Homart

Find it all during the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market.

Bestowals of Fall: Gift ideas for Fall/Winter 2014

When autumn arrives, festive occasions such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, are not far behind. With all these opportunities for gift-giving, consumers begin to think about finding the latest and greatest items options for the people in their lives. Discerning retailers who are aware of the trends will be able to draw their customers’ attention and inspire them to make a purchase. Insightful information from the trend specialists at WGSN-Stylesight, a trend forecasting service that offers key directions for the season can help retailers to plan ahead.

Here are some of their recommendations for Fall/Winter 2014.

Owls

Owls are mysterious creatures that enchant and delight. Usually camouflaged within trees their distinctive large eyes reveal their presence. Whether rendered as regal birds or whimsical caricatures, owl motifs are everywhere and certainly make for a charming gift.

owl 1 owl 2 owl 3 owl 4

Black Silhouettes

There’s a renewed interest in 18th century black-silhouetted imagery. Originally an inexpensive method of paper portraiture, artists and designers are now mimicking this archaic style by printing black silhouettes on various materials, such as wood coasters and cloth napkins, stamping everyday items with a sense of history.

black 4 black 3 black 2 black 1

Simple Sayings

In an era of information, we constantly receive a barrage of messages from multiple sources, and it can be overwhelming. That’s one reason items with simple sayings, or even a single word, are gratifying because they’re soothing in their simplicity.

simple 4 simple 3 simple 2 simple 1

Embroidery

Embroidery is back in vogue because there’s a desire for things made by hand. This centuries-old technique is being used in both traditional (for example, via monogramming) as well as imaginative ways (such as embroidering a box to look like a book and even applying it to a metal bracelet), imbuing objects with a personal touch.  

Embroidery 4 Embroidery 3 Embroidery 2 Embroidery 1

Babushka dolls

Since designers are looking to Eastern Europe for inspiration this season, the Russian nested doll, commonly known as a babushka doll, is trending. Painted on tea cups or sculpted into a ring, you know this folkloric expression is fashionable when Dolce & Gabbana conceive their version of the doll in black, creating a covetable gift.

Babushka 4 Babushka 3 Babushka 2 Babushka 1

WGSN-Stylesight is the industry-leading content and technology solution for professionals in the style, fashion and design sectors. For more information, visit wgsn.com or stylesight.com. Images courtesy of Stylesight.

For more Market trends see our July 2014 AmericasMart Market Magazine, available next month.

JingleNog Awarded “Best in Show” for Market Temporaries at Spring Market

AWH_PHOTO-3641The Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market inspired retailers with fresh product, ideas and creativity. You could especially feel the engery and excitement Market Temporaries where more than 140 booths were positioned to attract retailers from around the nation. And, there was one booth in particular that stood out above the rest: JingleNog.

JingleNog’s booth at the Spring Atlanta Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market caught the eye of judges, who were tapped to identify the best displays in the Market Temporaries, with an unexpected and fresh take on holiday product. The winner of the AmericasMart “Best of Show” Visual Display Award this spring, JingleNog showcased the best use of space, product arrangement, lighting, flooring and signage overall.

JingleNog’s handmade glass ornaments are the product of owner and creator Melissa Byrne’s stories and drawings. The glass blown ornaments showcase her twenty years of experience in the Christmas and Gift Industry, as well as the tradition of European glassmaking.AWH_PHOTO-3645

The JingleNog booth brings the product packaging to life as a whimsical, winter circus wonderland on a green and cream palate. Against the candy green striped curtains lining the space, white wire display trees and unexpected faux-grass flooring, JingleJog ornaments came to life and transformed this temporary booth into a fanciful fairytale.

This outstanding and unique display showcased JingleNog’s creativity and supported the playful nature of their product. Congratulations, JingleNog!

Be sure to join us for more creativity and excitement next Market!