Lovin’ those Georgia Made Exhibitors at the ATL Gift Show

Excitement and pride for strong product lines ran through most of the Atlanta Gift Show temporary exhibitors’ sections. Lauri Jo’s Southern Style Canning had a slide show showing the swiftly-outgrown facility and the beautiful new one. Diane Pfeifer was celebrating her 25th year showing at the Atlanta Gift Show. Her Grits Bits are always a big hit and a perfect Georgia welcome gift. Prissy’s of Vidalia “A Taste of Southern Gourmet” had moved over to a side row of booths and wrote orders. And Sartoria Monica, from right up the street in Madison, showed a couture line of shawls, scarves and garments.

My show faves included brand new exhibitors, brilliant young women, and new ways to use traditional products that are sure to be hits.

"Tea" and Jam Sample Station

BEST SAMPLE:  One Screw Loose – Kathy Senft, Jelly Queen, and her sons – are you reading this, Elizabeth Warnock from 13th Colony? –  mixed a big helping of lemonade with Vodka in a lovely glass container. In individual sample cups, they dolloped a spoonful of their Sweet Tea Raspberry Jelly, then poured the lemonade/Vodka over it. The booth had buyers begging for more!

Monterey Square

These are the ones for me!

BEST SALES PERSON: Savannah Shoe Co. – Katie Johnson. Who doesn’t like a pair of shoes that take you from “Cobblestones to Cocktails”? These colorful, comfortable shoes are stylish, sturdy and wildly appealing. Next time you’re in Savannah, go to 226 W Broughton St and try some on. You’ll be hooked, too. Great, great line!

Katie sat me down and showed me boots and sandals to my heart’s content. She offered to take my order & send them to me. She offered to show me around the Broughton St. shop. Her demeanor was that until I was happy with my new shoes, she wouldn’t be happy. Love, love, loved her style!

BEST NEW EXHIBITOR: Beautiful Briny Sea Salt. Suzi Sheffield, a restauranteur fresh from Columbia SC, and Kat Knetver and one other employee are working like people possessed to get this business running at full speed. For the past two years, they’ve exhibited at festivals and farmers markets in Georgia and South Carolina.

Truffle Salt on Roasted Asparagus

They’ve just opened their warehouse/kitchen five minutes from downtown, and exhibited in the Atlanta Gift Show for their first wholesale experience. Seven salts, including the best seller Truffle Salt, are available in this line. Lavender, Magic Unicorn, Santa Salt and Rosemary turn the ordinary into artisan creations. The booth was a French garden; the salts, remarkable.

honey hot picklesBEST NEW TASTE TWIST:  Jamaican Hots – Hollie Green. “Da Pickles Be Jammin!” The display was small. The product line was front and center. And the owner & originator herself, Hollie Green, offered samples of the “gate to heaven”, “gate to hell” and the “gate to Purgatory”. Those honey hot pickles were stellar! The ad isn’t misleading… it really is “like having a party in your mouth”.

eyedoll chatterBEST CONCEIVED PRODUCT LINE: Eye Doll Chatter – Kali Sharp, one of the sisters who originated this “Shimmer * Share” Tween Scented Makeup Kits line, blew me away with the sisters’ business strategy. The product line is very high fashion – shimmery & scented eyeshadow and lip glosses in a range of colors – that are combined by the young end buyer as she chooses her personal preferences. THEN, the Tween, on her EyeDoll Chatter iPhone App, shares those choices with her friends via Facebook, Twitter, and text!

Kali’s mainstream job was writing apps. So she was able to stretch the fun of choosing, buying, and wearing into high tech. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

Wholesalecrafts.com Breaks Records with 1st Qrtr 2010 Earnings

“Are you wondering where handmade retailers are buying their inventories?” Nancy Vince asked as she began her Three Minutes of Fame presentation at the CODA conference last Tuesday, “They are buying ONLINE at Wholesalecrafts.com!”

Total online artist sales for January, February and March 2010 were $737,259, an increase of 40.54% over 2009! Retailers placed a total of 3,167 orders. And, it is estimated that only 30% of transactions are actually placed through the online shopping cart; approx 70% bypass the system by dealing directly with the artists. See the entire article under Notes on their Facebook page.

Take a look at how Wholesalecrafts.com works. Seriously consider joining the 1300 artists and 16,000 retailers who do business on the site!

I’m going to BMAC!

Sue’s Funforable Clayworks

Thanks, Sue Chisholm of BurkArt Clay, for the “wild idea”… I’ll be checking out the Buyer’s Market of American Craft in Philadelphia next month! And thank you, Delta & frequent flyer miles, for facilitating the decision.

When ice and a 23 degree high temperature glazed the roads between me and the International Gift Show at Atlanta’s Americasmart last week, I felt a definite lack of insight about what artscentrics who in the wholesale trade are thinking. Then Sue gave me an alternative.

BMAC, February12-15, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, is the world’s largest venue for artists to meet qualified buyers. The only trade show for “Made in North America” quality products, this show provides retailers the ability to find unusual, cutting-edge handmade craft from over a thousand makers exhibiting in 12 categories.

If you are a retailer of handmade craft, do whatever you can to go to BMAC. And if you are a craft maker considering entering the wholesale market, pay attention to this important event.

Its summer counterpart is moving this year to Baltimore’s Convention Center, August 23-25. If this blog entry is too short of a notice for you to plan to be at BMAC in Philly in January, plan to go to the summer show.