5 Things You Should Know About the Atlanta Gift/Furniture Market!

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1. WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL??

The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market (commonly known as "Market") is a biannual market held to showcase the newest merchandise in the world of gifts & home furnishings. Don't be fooled--the term "gifts" covers a wide range of products! Gift/furniture markets are held in most major cities (San Francisco, Chicago, NYC, Toronto, Dallas, & Las Vegas), but Atlanta is home to the largest in the world, with 3 buildings housing up to 23 floors and 7.7 MILLION square feet. Only 800,000 of that is used for trade shows, but still . . . that's a lot of wholesale shopping! In these buildings you'll find more than 4,000 showrooms housing products including area rugs, beds, apparel, novelty gifts, furniture, kids toys, candles, ornaments, dinnerware, accessories (home & fashion), lighting, linens, cookware, & wall decor.  They even have massage stations on every floor to add the pep back to your step when your energy starts winding down! Still not sure what you'll find? Take a look . . .

Got it?

2. IT'S A PRIVATE CLUB (sort of).

Most gift markets are wholesale (meaning items are sold to other retailers, not general consumers) and therefore not open to the public.  Entrance is only granted to established businesses, and a guest pass can be purchased by a business for an additional $50.  Attendees are expected to wear badges at all times and identification must be visible upon entering the building, so it's not the kind of  place where you can just plan to mix in with the crowd--security is tight and ever present. Unfortunately, attending Market is not as simple as providing a business license for entry;  AmericasMart requires all of the following to register:
      
- Current retail business license or federal resale tax certificate
- Imprinted business check
- Corporate credit card or proof of merchant credit card ID #
- Photo ID or passport (one per buyer)
- Personalized business ID (business card or cancelled payroll check) – One per buyer required
- Internet businesses must provide proof of search engine with website and proof of URL registration

  Plus one of these:
- White or yellow page business phone listing
- Current year executed sales tax return or sales tax coupon book
- Lease agreement for commercial space
- Photo of retail store front with company signage clearly displayed
- Current invoices showing you purchase Mart related merchandise in quantity for resale

Definitely serious business.

3. YOU HAVE TO PAY TO PLAY.





Because Market is technically for wholesalers, every showroom has an established minimum purchase requirement (or "open"/"opening").  Depending on the company/showroom, minimums can go as low as $500 (and maybe lower for certain goods) and as high as $3,000-$5,000.  Higher-end showrooms set high minimums as a means of increasing demand and ensuring that their products lines don't become oversaturated in the marketplace.  Most showrooms also have minimum purchase quantities on smaller items, meaning you can't buy just one of that cute little ginger jar you had your heart set on.  These rules often keep the average consumer at bay, because there aren't too many non-retailers that would want to buy a lot of 75 iPhone cases or 25 Mother-of-Pearl jewelry boxes.

4. TRENDS RULE!!!



People go to Market for one of 3 reasons--to purchase items for design clients, build store inventory, or get an early peak at the trends that will be hitting the design world in as few as 4 weeks.  Certain companies are known to be the Market trendsetters, and buyers flock to those showrooms to see the newest trends, as well as their fabulous displays.  Want to know the trends I spotted last week?   Lots of ceramic/iron animal motifs (not just owls anymore!),  big infusions of fresh color featuring a lot of orange & turquoise, and an abundance of organic elements.  




5. NO PHOTOGRAPHY, PLEASE.

Because Market is really about spotting the latest trends (see #4), there's fierce competition among the showrooms--everyone wants to be the manufacturer (or wholesaler) of the latest and greatest product.  As such, showroom/display photography is generally not allowed.  While not every showroom has a posted "no photography" sign,  company reps will often ask you to put your camera away if you whip it out and start snapping away.  Sometimes asking helps, sometimes not. I have a bit of personal experience with this because I was actually asked by a security guard to stop photographing a display--they don't play around!  Some of the showrooms are known for scouting out their more prestigious counterparts and then copying the popular items for the next Market (lesser quality at a lower price), so it's not uncommon to see similar items on different displays. Don't be immediately fooled by the big discrepancy in price--often times it's indicative of quality.  


In addition to thousands of showrooms, each Market also features dozens of seminars by well-known personalities.  This year's lineup included Lifestyle Designer Eddie Ross, Potter & Interior Designer Jonathan Adler, renowned Interior Designer Suzanne Kasler,  Chef Tyler Florence, and Brand Strategist Olivier Blanchard.  The seminars are a great way to round out your Market experience and promise to add to your repertoire, whatever your interests!  In a nutshell, I'd describe the Atlanta Gift/Home Furnishings Market as one of the best places to go to spot the newest trends and color palettes for the upcoming season.  


For those of you who attended, what were your thoughts??

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