An Antiques Primer

Learn to make the most of the myriad available collections
By Poormina Apte

Both retailers and designers are always looking for on-of-a-kind pieces, which is why the ANTIQUES Temporary collection and one-of-a-kind showrooms at AmericasMart offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore and find interesting treasures. The category brings together top dealers from across the country in one location, making it more convenient to source impressive, diverse collections.

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These items add a layer of warmth and history that’s unique to each piece or project but you need to be a savvy shopper to ensure you find what you really want. While it’s both invigorating and challenging, the world of antique sourcing can be a bit intimidating for the novice buyer. Where does one start and how? We talked with some of the experts and offer a basic primer on buying and working with antiques.

Ask Questions
Be prepared with what you want to learn about the antiques you’re buying. Of the pieces they source from France, designers Ann Huff and Meg Harrington of Huff Harrington Home will find out what kind of wood is used, what region did the piece come from and how the specific style is defined. If a dealer tells you a piece is 100 years old, ask them how they know that, advises Huff. It’s always better to ask and confirm so you can pass along that knowledge to your customer.

Build Relationships
Building a working rapport with reputable dealers is a reliable way to know you’re buying a genuine product. “Buy from a group of dealers at venues such as AmericasMart. They don’t just let anybody into the show. These exhibitors have been vetted so they’re selling a good product at a good price,” says Kenny Ball of Kenny Ball Antiques.

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Change It Up
Mix and match. “It’s never a good idea to have a one-note interior,” says Susie Quillin of MiNTY, “It’s the mix of eras, materials, and colors that creates a sophisticated look. If you sell new furniture, have your lounge chairs flank an age-worn table; use antique bookends to corral a collection of new books,” she suggests as ideas for retailers and designers. Start small and don’t go crazy when creating retail displays, advises Janice Palmer of Palmer Design Group, “You’re not creating a museum; you’re replicating a lived-in space.” Finding a common theme like color between a set of disparate pieces from different periods helps things not get too frenetic, says Meg Harrington of Huff Harrington. Vendors and designers recommend buying functional products for display purposes—working chests of drawers and mirrors are great examples.

Display Their Socks Off
Since antiques are great conversation-starters, they can be displayed in more interesting ways that spotlight multiple items. Ball placed an antique African mask atop an armoire to draw attention to both the mask and the furniture. Huff believes antiques are best complemented by contemporary art because each dramatically highlights the other. Huff Harrington has used sinks from an Italian church to display soaps and a painted armoire from the south of France to hold baskets in their retail store.

Educate Your Customer
“Point out the tongue and groove joints on that Harvey Probber cabinet, show your customer the pontil mark of a mouth-blown Murano ashtray; run your finger over the artist’s signature,” suggests Quillin, reminding buyers to inspect an antique thoroughly and learn all its flaws and damages. Learning the story behind each piece can really help sell it. “Antiques marry the past, the present and the future,” says designer Connie Seitz. Quillin agrees. “Every antique has a personality, a history, a story. It’s what makes them so beloved and interesting.”

In addition to the one-of-a-kind showrooms, visit the ANTIQUES Temporary Collection located on Building 1, Floor 2, January 12-15 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Items purchased with the ANTIQUES exhibitors may be picked-up at the Distinguished Transport warehouse. Distinguished Transport also can ship items directly to the purchaser via white glove delivery service. Rates apply. Learn more about how purchases work, here. Find helpful answers to frequently asked questions about ANTIQUES, here.


Connie Seitz Interiors – connieseitzinteriors.com, 985.630.7102; Huff Harrington Home – huffharrington.com, 404.467.0311; Kenny Ball Antiques – kennyballantiques.com, 434.293.1361; MiNTY – loveminty.com, 404.863.9220; Palmer Design Group – palmerdesignllc.com, 470.375.2506

Celebrating the Best of the Best

The undeniable beauty of rugs was celebrated at the 2012 America’s Magnificent Carpets® Awards, recognizing the newest area rug introductions. A rug pulls together a room and makes a strong statement, much like how we pull together the best of the best in the industry for this grand annual evening event. With entertainment by Dancing with the Stars and set in the world’s largest aquarium, AmericasMart pulled out all the stops to celebrate the rug industry in a BIG way!

A coveted award that has only been given out three times over the years was presented to David Harounian, a principal of Harounian Rugs International. The surprise of the evening was that Jeff Portman welcomed to the stage Lucille Laufer (Executive Director at Oriental Rug Importers Association) and Gene Newman (a retired importer/wholesaler of Oriental Rugs [owner of Noonoo Rug Co.] and Managing Director, EDEN Consulting Group, Ltd.) to present the ORIA Award to Chas Sydney, former senior vice president of AmericasMart leading the rug franchise.

Emcees Lynne Russell (former anchor on CNN Headline News ) and Chas Sydney announced the winners one by one in classic product categories such as Handmade, Hand-Knotted and Power-Loomed and in two new categories: Indoor/Outdoor and Licensee. The area rug winners—selected from the Museum of Introductions (MOI) gallery by an independent panel of renowned tastemakers—were announced and presented by AmericasMart. Click here to see all of the winners.

5 ways to use Social Media to find success in 2011

Crystal Vilkaitis high res[1]It’s that time a year again: new products, new deals, new themes, new marketing and of course, New Year’s resolutions!

In 2010, if you didn’t use social networks like Twitter and Facebook to market your store, network with your community and find ways to grow your business, then that’s ok. It’s ok because in 2011 you’re going to do things differently. You’re going to embrace social media and use it as a daily tool to help you grow, learn and succeed! (If you did use social media in 2010, leave a comment on how it helped your business; also assess what worked and what didn’t, then make a 2011 Plan of Social Media Action.)

To get started, here are 5 ways to use social media to ensure a successful show this January.

1. Pictures! If you don’t have a phone with a built in camera, make sure you bring your digital camera to the show because you’re going to want to make your customers so excited for your new products they can’t stand it! Take pictures of some new items or lines you bought at market. Post to your Facebook page and let your networks know that in a matter of days they could get their hands on those items. Posting pictures of the showrooms and people shopping at market is also a great way to let your customers in on your business, taking your relationship with them deeper.

2. Follow Vendors and Sales Agencies. The best way to stay up-to-date at market is to be monitoring your favorite vendors and sales agencies on Twitter and Facebook. You might even find show specials posted on their social media outlets. To find their accounts (if you don’t know them already) visit their websites, go to search.twitter.com and enter the company name or try Googling their name +Twitter.

3. Hashtags! You might not know what a hashtag is, so let me first explain.  Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter. Through these you can tag a post with a keyword so it can be found or referred to later. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol:  #hashtag. Here are a few examples:

via @AmericasMartATL: AmericasMart launches HD Home juried home furnishings/lifestyle collection: http://bit.ly/hFp0ty #atlmart

Via @AlexasAngles: “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” #quote

Via @snapretail: Cute Displays for the #Holiday Season http://ht.ly/3ipaP #retail#marketing

4. Connect with other retailers. Running a successful retailer store can be hard. One way to learn what works is by talking to a retailer that has proven success. You can find these retailers online and set up a time to share a coffee, walk showrooms together or grab dinner after market. Continuing that conversation throughout the year will help you stay on track and feel the support of someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. A great way to find these retailers is by following the #atlmart hashtag. Another way is by sending out Facebook posts and Tweets that you’ll be attending the market and you’re looking at connecting with other retailers. Finally, go to AmericasMart Facebook page and see who they are talking to/who is posting on their page and reach out to them.

5. Attend a social media seminar at market. As you return to your store after the shows, you should be asking yourself: how will I market the products I just bought? It’s important to create a 2011 marketing plan and make sure social media is a part of that plan.

There are lots of good seminars at Market. I will be speaking on Thursday, Jan 13th in the Social Media Track. Please consider spending an hour with me on: Top 10 Facebook and Twitter Strategies to Drive Sales.

For a complete list of seminars visit AmericasMart seminar page and SnapRetail’s seminar series page.

If you can embrace social media in 2011, you will find how beneficial it is for your store. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, how to use the sites, and create a plan of action first that way you can track your efforts. Wishing you a happy new year and a successful 2011!

Handmade Rugs—the Orphans of the Decorative Rug Trade?

Photos Alix 5-30-2010 034Ever since I became immersed in the rug world in the 1980s working for HALI and later The Oriental Rug Magazine, I was frustrated that the decorative application of handmade rugs was basically ignored. Although rugs are designed for the floor—either as the focus or as the backdrop of the room’s décor—they were rarely featured in their decorative context. Instead, they were typically displayed as isolated objects hanging on a wall or on the floor. Yes, there are plentiful and admirable books on rugs’ history, construction, and designs but these are geared to the rug aficionado, not to the decorative buyer or user focused on finding out what rugs would work best in their home or their client’s. Moreover, shelter magazines feature beautiful handmade rugs, both antique and contemporary, but how often are they mentioned in the article or even in the caption?

And so, you may ask, why should anyone care? Actually, the decorative application of handmade rugs does matter. For one thing, they represent one third of the usable space and are the first element that catches your eye upon entering the room. Secondly, aside from furniture, they outlive any other furnishing in the home—including window treatments, wall paint and coverings, and upholstery. Their resilience to wear-and-tear and virtually all forms of human abuse is second to none in essence guaranteeing that they can not only move with you from house to house but also be passed down from one generation to the next. Hence they are the most-effective investment furnishing investment in the home. Last but not least, they are the greenest of floor coverings being produced with renewable organic materials such as cotton and wool, and free of from adhesives and petroleum-based products, present in most machinemade carpeting products that produce off-gassing. Still, despite these attributes, handmade rugs have been treated as the orphans of the decorative trade.

When editor of The Oriental Rug Magazine and later consulting editor on AREA Magazine, I sought to redress the image of handmade rugs as important elements in the décor with an ongoing article series featuring  the country’s most prestigious designers’ use of rugs in their work. I knew I was onto something when they all responded with unquestionable enthusiasm. “Finally! It’s about time to publish articles on how rugs are actually used in interior design!” they exclaimed. When helping my clients buy rugs, I always was a bit at a loss when trying to recommend books helping them identify rugs they would like to buy.  Most found rug books too intimidating. Some sent me photocopies of illustrations of rare collector’s items that they wanted in oversizes. Not surprisingly, they were frustrated when I told them these did not exist in the market only in the hands of a few collectors and museums. Other clients, desperate for a visual guide, created their own “look book” with ads and images of rugs in rooms torn out of magazines.

And so, buoyed by the encouragement of my clients and featured interior designers, I took on the project of The Decorative Carpet—Fine Handmade Rugs in Contemporary Interiors, a monumental but very rewarding task. I was lucky to find Monacelli Press/Random House who believed in the project. My 32 featured celebrity designers—including Samuel Botero, Clodagh, Jamie Drake, David Easton, and   Bunny Williams—were overwhelmingly as enthusiastic as I about giving decorative handmade rugs at long last their deserved place in the interior design world. Today, handmade decorative rugs are orphans no more.

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Learn more from Alix at her presentation on Friday, January 14 during Market at 2 p.m. Here she’ll discuss “The Decorative Carpet in Interior Design.” Plus, stay around and purchase a book for her to sign. Find her in Building 1, Floor 4, 4-G-7

Guest Speaker Niki Papadopoulos’ Top 10 AmericasMart Tips

IMG_1048I 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.

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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.

AmericasMart January Gardens Market Continues to Grow

IMG_9000[1]With the debut of seven new companies on floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 WestWing, AmericasMart’s Living. Outdoor/Indoor. The Gardens product mix will grow by almost 4,000 sq. ft. These new companies will be joining more than 130 exhibitors—many of which will be launching new product during the January 2011 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Leading this charge is the newly reappointed executive director of leasing, Jill Ford, who reassumes this position after returning to AmericasMart.

New to AmericasMart and establishing a permanent home in Living. Outdoor/Indoor. The Gardens are

  • Stone Age Creations, 9A13
  • Jackson Pottery, 9A34
  • Homespice Décor, 9C103
  • SS Sarna, 10A11
  • Spruce, 10A120
  • Hansen Corporation, 10B56
  • Giftwares Company, 10B59

Highlighting Living. Outdoor/Indoor. The Gardens at Market is a special Gardens Party hosted by Jamie Durie, host of HGTV’s The Outdoor Room. Durie, one of Australia’s leading Landscape Designers and most recognizable talents made famous in the United States by making regular appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, will speak about the latest and greatest in outdoor room décor trends.  A meet-and-greet, cocktail party and book signing will follow. The event takes place on Friday, January 14, 4:00-6:30 p.m. on floors 9 and 10 in B2WW.generalgardens

Also making its debut this January is the newly created Birding & Backyard Nature, showcasing bird feeders, bird houses, bird seed, bird baths, birding and nature books, optics, hardware, birding software, bird-themed giftware, note cards, magnets, bookmarks, butterfly houses, bat houses, wildlife art, bird-themed jewelry and decorative accessories, recycled nature products, water garden supplies and décor. All three temporary categories are strategically located on floor 3 in B2WW, just a few floors down from the permanent center.

Visit AmericasMart this January and discover new exhibitors and new categories. To learn more about the January 2011 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishing Market, click here. To read the entire release, click here.

Caravan Recommits to AmericasMart

caravanCaravan Rug has reaffirmed its commitment to Atlanta and the industry by renewing its multi-year lease at AmericasMart. After 15 years in Atlanta, Caravan has ensured its future success with the renewal of its 5,700 ft showroom on floor 4 in Building 1—the 20-floor destination for all Home products. The showroom has allowed Caravan to spotlight some of the world’s finest designs in the world’s largest collection of area rugs.

Be sure to check out Caravan at the January 2011 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.

More details on Caravan’s renewal here.