What a wild start to this year’s Gift Show in at AmericasMart, or to those who frequent the three buildings regularly, “the Mart”.  Snow and ice in Atlanta – that doesn’t happen often!  In fact, the mere threat of snow on Thursday caused Delta to cancel about 90 flights for Thursday on Wednesday in anticipation…  Restaurants were closing while the roads were still dry… again, anticipation.

"Fashion Forward" Flour Sack Towels - new from Kay Dee Designs © Tara Reed Designs Inc

The snow did begin to fall in the evening and iced over night.  There was 29 car pile up near the airport.  Georgia is simply not prepared for ice and snow.

But the show must go on and on it did. This year seemed to have a better energy than the same time last year.  Many manufacturers were happy that they were having a better year than last and retailers on the very crowded elevators (always a good sign even if it’s a hassle) were looking for things that are “bright, quality and good price points”.  (I heard that more than once.)

I did hear that both retailers and manufacturers sold out of Christmas items before Christmas – having ordered much more leanly last year so they didn’t get stuck with a lot of extras.  Hopefully that means lines will be stocked deeper next year – meaning more royalties trickling back to the licensed artists.

Celebrity sightings

The January show wouldn’t be complete without lots of celebrity and designers coming out to draw attention to their product lines.

I met Meredith Baxter (remember her from Family Ties?) – she has a skin care line and was as nice as she seemed on TV.

During my signing with Thirstystone, where I was giving away “Walk on the Wild Side” coasters, I had the pleasure of meeting author Patricia Cornwell – who was surprised that I recognized her. (She looks just like her photo on the books and we had been talking about enjoying her Kay Scarpetta books at dinner the night before, so she was on my mind.)  When I asked why she was at the show I learned that she not only has a gift store, but a turkey farm as well!

Marie Osmond was there but I didn’t see her and Mary Engelbreit had a ‘meet and greet’ for the launch of her Christmas ornament line with Katherine’s Creations.  I didn’t get to meet her either, as I had to get 10 flights up to my signing with Thirstystone.

The artists in the License & Design area seemed pleased with the new contacts they were making, even if their room was freezing for the three days they were there!

Overall, I hope the positive outlook at the show translates into a slow and steady recovery at the retail level
.  I am optimistic, exhausted and ready to dig into follow-up.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is a waste to go to or exhibit at a trade show if you don’t do your follow-up!

Here’s to a growing economy in 2010 that we may all increase our creative business bottom lines!

– Tara