Buyers excited, energized by robust summer market offerings
Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, 9/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
Home Accent buyers at the summer markets found so many new products, showrooms and events waiting for them that we found ourselves asking, "How do they do it? Where do they start, and how do they make sure they see everything in such a short time period?" We hit the halls and found a few who were willing to slow down for a few minutes to share their thoughts on their buying plans, the new offerings, the positive market climate and the retail business in general.
We are buying for Costco's special event road shows. That's where we pull our normal merchandise off the floor and provide space for suppliers, in every category from furniture to jewelry to apparel, to come in and physically set up shop inside the building. You may have seen this at your local Costco - with the Vitamix blender, or a furniture brand, a large rug show where it's actually an event. It brings something special that our inline buyer can't really do. We're usually a little bit more upscale and we can go a wider in our selection than the inline buyer can. We are seeing a lot of potential in almost everything in home décor - fine art, furniture, home accents, glass art, paintings.... Our Costco member is that demographic with more disposable income, in their 40s, 50s, 60s; that older generation that's not really buying new houses, which includes me. We're remodeling, we're changing up the feel of a room by putting in new art, a different rug.
- Liz Auten, Non Foods Buyer, Southeast Region and Carolyn Friedman, Special Events Buyer, Costco Wholesale
We are super-excited about what we're doing. With our growth, we are trying to be very much a fashion and lifestyle inspiration to customers that come into our store. We have really gravitated toward gracious style all the way to wonderful, casual art-like pieces. We're trying to hit all different lifestyles. With our new expansion into Chicago, we are branching out into more cutting-edge styling and color, and we think we have a great opportunity to present more pre-peak-type trends, rather than peak or post-peak trends. A lot of our items are being made custom now to hit these trends. We have a lot of great partnering vendors. I came to Las Vegas with a list of looks that I am trying to achieve in different parts of the store ... natural elegance - something that's easy to live with - is probably at the top of the list. We're doing good-better-best price points in those looks. I am also looking for quality top-of-bed and interesting lamps.
- Donald Dilliplane, Art Van, Warren, Mich.
We are shopping for our family-owned department stores in Bogota, Colombia, South America. They were started 40 years ago, and we have five locations in Bogota. This is our third visit to Americasmart Atlanta. This time, we're concentrating on home decor and accessories - special things that are different than what everyone is buying in Colombia. Before our first visit here, we assumed the prices would be very high, but we've found good products, good prices and very good suppliers here - they're very accurate and organized. Trend-wise, our customers love blues, silver, traditional styles, some contemporary.
- Clara Arango, Clara Rodriguez, Amparo Parra, Los Tres Elefantes, Bogota, Columbia
I'm interested in seeing what's new this market. We're really looking for home accents, accessories and tabletop. Global Views is one I'm really looking forward to - from what I understand, there are several new introductions. Historically we've always done really modern, contemporary interiors, but I'm really open and looking for more free-form, organic looks ... rawedged, raw materials. We have four stores, three Interior Illusions and one I Squared. We are very blessed that we've seen a slow rise over last year's numbers. July has been slow, but overall for the year, we are still on the incline. I'm looking for a strong fall.
- Mike Valles and Lottie Valles, Interior Illusions, Hollywood, Calif.
I've been involved in the interior design business for about 30 years; three and a half years ago I moved to Las Vegas. I've shopped the Las Vegas Market since it opened, and am here between markets. We get so excited about market weeks. It keeps expanding ... All the home accents that are now in Building C I think is fabulous, as well as those in Building B. We are buying for clients, so we have specific needs for them, but I also have my overall vision. I know I'm a better designer for those clients by coming here, because I can bring something new to their thinking. I can go back to them and say "there's a huge number of possibilities now instead of what we thought were in this little box." I'm looking for things that take tradition and turn it into something unique and new yet retain some of the tradition. I absolutely love Uttermost, it's one of my favorite showrooms. They've already sent the preview catalog of everything that's new and I can't wait to see it. I'm a handson, touch-touch person. I bring my entire team here for the week, and a few of my clients later in the week after I've done some previewing. We attend the seminars to hear about the trends, to see where colors are going, where manufacturing is going, what's been added. Coming here re-energizes me, rejuvenates my thinking, opens my eyes to what's possible.
- Lisa Matvay and Jane Cunningham, Room Resolutions, Las Vegas
Hautelook home has remodeled. In Home, we've extended the sale event time period to seven days - members can now shop a week's worth of events starting every Tuesday at 1 pm Pacific time. We have integrated with Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack in a number of areas, including working with the brand community, marketing and back office functions. As part of Nordstrom, we have the ability to serve the customer however he or she likes to shop. HauteLook's members still love the thrill of coming to the site every morning to find their favorite brands and discover new ones at the best prices, but in Home, we listened to our members who said they'd like to have more time to think about their purchase since those products can often be a bigger commitment. We're finding that bedding and furniture are our best-selling and quickest growing categories. Our members also love distinctive items with a purpose like shoe storage cabinets or unique-sized items like larger luggage or uncommon sized or shaped rugs that they may not find in stores but we can ship straight to their front door. One trend our members seem to be gravitating towards lately is modern/contemporary, especially white. I'm really excited to check out everything at market. We have three buyers here this (Las Vegas) market and will call on at least 80 vendors, if not more. Home décor has been a large piece of our business - it's a great impulse buy - so I'm particularly looking to discover new categories and new brands that have compelling, unique and quality products. Online, conveying the product's proper size and scale in an image is so important - we're very detail-oriented when it comes to product specifics. How an image will photograph for online absolutely plays into our decision. We buy with an eye for online.
- Kecia Hielscher, vice president, home, Hautelook.com
We've only been in business since last year, and have been married for two and a half years. Our home is what brought us into this business. Being newlyweds I was literally shopping every single day for furniture ... converting a bachelor pad into a home. We expected certain things when we were shopping, and now we focus on delivering that service to our customers. We sell online right now and are planning to expand into brick and mortar. We are live all the time - communication with our customers has been the key to our success so far, live chatting on our site, on social media platforms, answering telephone calls in person. A voice is so important. When we were the customers, so often we would send emails with a question about a furniture purchase and never hear back from anyone. We carry contemporary furniture - a lot of white, clean lines - and accessories and are working on expanding the latter. That's one of our biggest goals in being here this week is getting more distributors on board. Just started uploading all of our lighting, and met with another one of our lighting reps this morning. This is our first morning on the first day of our first market as business owners - we're market virgins. Our very first stop this morning? That was Zuo Modern, one of our biggest distributors. It was the first time we've met our rep face-to-face.
- Rina and Ephrem Jando, Contemporary Collections, Gilbert, Ariz.
My store has only been open for nine months. Prior to that, I was a director at nonprofits for 30 years. Business has been a breeze compared to nonprofits. It's fun. We've exceeded our best-case scenario by 40%. We scouted the show last summer to learn the ropes, then came in January and are back now. We drove in on Tuesday night and will leave next Tuesday. Last year we just popped in and missed a lot. This time, our goal was to find new lines and also to spend time with my reps looking at new products - you can reorder over the phone. We have an urban, handmade, hipster vibe in our store, so we're looking for funky, eclectic items. Smart humor sells well in our store. Our customers want humor that takes a pause to get. They also want unique products, such as vintage items and letter-pressed looks. We had fun in the Aesthetic Movement showroom and bought from six of their lines, including Imm Living. They have edgy, good-quality, offbeat products, and good stuff for guys. We have lots of tech companies nearby, and the guys want to buy nice things. We also found flasks, brass combs, and soaps wrapped in letterpress papers from Izola. I thought the market would be more mainstream, but was pleasantly surprised you can find stuff outside the mainstream, especially in the temporaries.
- Pam Blondin and Emma Blondin, Deco, Raleigh, N.C.
We are looking for more products made in the U.S., but they're also responding well to it even if they're not asking for it. We started shopping the show on Tuesday and will be here every day through Wednesday, since we're close by. Our first stop was Just Got 2 Have It! We saw a line of bath balms and sugar scrubs there that look like cupcakes, lollipops and bakery products; they're adorable and the price is great. We're also excited about Tamara Hensick Designs at OneCoast, which offers handmade pewter sculptures made in the USA. At DHR, there are scarves made in Alabama by ladies who couldn't find a job; they come in an organza bag with information on the line. We like that it's giving back and shopping for a cause.
- Carole Keith, owner, and Becca Tonge, merchandising manager, Love Street, Smyrna, Ga., and Dallas, Ga.; and Heart & Sole, Smyrna, Ga.
We've shifted away from home décor and accessories to unique, artsy gifts. People aren't moving, so they aren't decorating, and they're not buying my stuff. We are buying more baby and children's products, since it seems that we're still having babies by the zillions, and babies and families have become "trendy." We come with a list of companies to see as well as inventory sheets, so if it's a company we're reordering from we can immediately reorder things we want to repeat. But, we try not to repeat stuff; we try to find new products at each show. We're spending six days here, from Wednesday through Monday - it's our main show. We start at the top floor of Building 2 and work our way down ... we're structured.
- Reed Masten, owner, and Jay Strackeljahn, partner, Masten Fine Framing & Gifts, Denver, Co.
This is our favorite show because you can do the permanent showrooms and the temporaries all in one trip. We're here Wednesday to Tuesday. We start on the 18th floor of the gift building so we can walk down the stairs instead of wait for the elevator. We look at everything; we don't want to overlook anything. Sometimes you find that perfect little item in the back of a showroom that you would have missed otherwise. Among new lines we've found are Uno de 50 - a contemporary, leather-and-silver jewelry line made in Madrid that we saw in Appelman Schauben; and Kaleidoscope - a nice, ethnic-looking candle line from Capri Blue Candles that is U.S.-made. We're more about American handcrafts - that's primarily what we sell. Our business has been very good; we've been going with the times. Nothing stays the same - we're always looking for new product lines.
- Jeff and Vickie Cotton, Blue Moon Artisans, Guilford, Conn., and West Hartford, Conn.
After 41 years, we're still growing. Each year of the last few years have been the best yet. We're hands-on at our store and there every day. We specialize in gifts, jewelry and women's accessories. We're here at the show from Wednesday until Monday. We're not line buyers, we're now more item buyers. We look for items as well as color. Right now we're buying spring; we just bought some florals and décor items in purple and lavender to give the store a spring look. The key to being in business 41 years is that you need to be flexible and to change - the products, the look of the store, and your attitude. The customer base is dwindling and the marketplace is changing so much. I'd like to see the gift industry be more innovative.
- Edwin and Jeanne Aldrich, Edwins, Franklin, Mass.
Kathy Krassner of sister publication Gifts & Decorative Accessories contributed to this report.
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