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.”
In 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
Both 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.”
Another 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.