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.