Tuesday, July 20, 2010

First Time at AmericasMart, Part One: What's it all about?

Last week, I attended the AmericasMart show in Atlanta for the first time. This is often referred to as "the gift show" and it is the largest of its kind in the country. The event takes place twice a year - once in July, and again in January. The show exists mainly to deliver easy access to the latest and greatest in products to retail buyers from across the nation. Buyers for retail stores across the country who budget one show per calendar year will likely choose this show for their one-stop shopping needs.

The July show consists of manufacturers who exhibit in either Temporary or Permanent Showrooms (though a few show in both- more on that later). All of the showrooms reside in three connected "AmericasMart" buildings. The buildings collectively take up about the equivalent of a couple of large city blocks.

The "permanent" showrooms are on their own designated floors, and resemble large shopping mall stores with product beautifully displayed, but without the registers and price tags. The "temporary" showrooms are typically on the lower floors of the buildings (though Building 3 consists largely of temporaries with exhibitors booths taking up several floors in an artium-style, circular-shaped architecture. The floors in each building are broken down thematically- for example, a floral buyer can go directly to the "Floral" floors, or for a shop owner who only buys Christmas at the show, they can spend their time perusing the floors labeled with the word "Holiday".

Each of the three buildings have areas for both permanent and temporary showrooms. The permanent showrooms live in their areas all year round. Buyers can visit these showrooms throughout the year, to my knowledge. But the manufacturers' bi-annual big product/line collection releases are launched at the bi-annual shows.

The temporary showroom exhibits are not housed in the storefront-style floor plan- these are regular tradeshow booths. These usually feature smaller manufacturers, but some companies who have permanent showrooms choose to also exhibit in the temporary showrooms (such as paper company Gina B. Designs). I noticed that a number of other manufacturers seem to also cover their bases in this way, as well.

This is an excellent show to attend if you are interested in seeing what types of art & products manufacturers have committed to in their lines, to sell to the store buyers. So Basically what you will be seeing at the show are the products that will be the freshest and newest products at retail for the next six months. (What is more fun and exciting than that??) As such, this may be THE MOST important show for an art licensor to attend. I am sure a lot of folks would debate me on that, but the bottom line is that, between Surtex, Licensing, and AmericasMart, (can't speak to CHA; never been,) this is the only show of the three that's all about the finished product. Art and design's entry into the commercial retail market from the hard work and collaboration between art licensor and manufacturer.


Tamara Henderson said...

Thanks for the information! I live in Atlanta and didn't know we have a show like this one going on each year. I'm going to definitely try to attend next year.

BJ Lantz said...

Hi Kathy ~ I won't debate you :-) It was good to meet you in person at the show...er, OK at happy hour afterwards :-)) I hope you found a home for those darling clever cards you showed me on your groovy iPad, you hip-chick, you!

Andy Mathis said...

I am rather spoiled, living only 2 hours away from Atlanta. Love going to the show and/or exhibiting.

I carried an ipad too. Love that thing. Manufacturers and sales reps seemed to really like looking at artwork on it as well.

cynthiapendley said...

Heading to the Mart tomorrow. Haven't missed a show since 2003. You are right, it is a fantastic place to spot what is new and exciting in product design. But, the caveat of spotting in Atlanta is that the trend/product you see here is already or fixing to be on the shelves at retail. With most products taking 12-18 months lead time from design to market, Atlanta is a little late to catch what is up-and-coming. by the time it is on the shelves at AmericasMart, it is here.
Not to say that it is not a great place to check out what manufacturers are banking on. It's a great place. Like I said, I go every mart - jan and july. But if you are looking for the future, Atlanta is not it. Atlanta is now.
Personally, I believe to get a really good jump on what is trending in the future (and in time to bring a product to market) you have to attend the large shows in Paris and New York. I've seen this time and time again - what you see at Maison de Objet in Paris will be in New York in about 2 yrs, then about 2 yrs after that you'll see it in Atlanta.

If you have questions about the mart, I'd be happy to chat. I live near Atlanta, so obviously it is the easiest show for me to visit regularly.