A Day at the Mart

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My wife has been going to the AmericasMart Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market for a number of years now.  She doesn’t go to buy anything but rather to catch up on the latest colors and themes that may influence her glass art direction.  For me, that means a quiet day at home followed by the arrival of a variety of canvas bags filled with convention junk, such as various cups and an extendable back scratcher.  But not this year.  One of her Mart buddies is no longer available, and the other wasn’t available for this show.  I’ve always been a little curious, so… “Yes, I’ll go and play the role of ‘bag holder.’”

I don’t know the current statistics, but in 2014, this convention had an attendance of 91,000 with an economic impact of $133M, ranking it #1 in the local convention market.  That’s pretty significant for the local economy as well as a harbinger of the retail times, as the Mart primarily exists to introduce retailers to new products.  The second Mart of 2014 ranked 3rd, with 73,000 attending.  So… observations.

The three buildings are mammoth.  I’ve been in them for other business purposes, but this was the first time when there was a buying horde.  Usually, it’s a bunch of stores with a single employee looking hopeful for any kind of company, be it in person or on the phone. 

This is the central atrium of one building.  Elsewhere, it’s a figure 8, or similar, maze.

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As the diagram doesn’t quite suggest, the challenge of finding treasure involves finding the escalators, open stairwells, one of 24 pedestrian bridges to adjacent buildings, and/or an elevator that hasn’t yet motivated you to seek one of the other methods of migration.

Another observation is that aside from other rarely observed “bag holders,” the Mart is filled with women, ages 18-80, and they dress for the occasion, I would surmise, to represent the vibe of their own gift/furniture/whatever stores, wherever they may be.  This is to say that few dress down and some, more oddly, choose to wear high heeled shoes for their trek, if they were to walk it all, of 7,000,000 sq.ft.

Now, you might imagine mayhem, but actually, that’s ample room for people to spread out.  It’s the reality of the spacious freedom that DragonCon participants, who number an estimated 65,000 and rank #6 on Atlanta’s conventions, can only dream about.  Anyway, here’s what the wholesalers think the retailers think that you, the buying public, will want to buy this year.

A denim chair.  This kind of makes sense – you wear them, so why not sit on them?

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Well, every chick likes to pose on the hood of a car, so… why not make it possible within the comfort of your own home?

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What? Not buying yet?  Then you should help yourself to a free Mimosa!  (Bloody Mary and other mixed drinks observed elsewhere).  I should also note that a number of the shops also provide lunchtime buffets so that their customers don’t have to leave the sales area to get an overpriced bite.

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Wholesale sales are like retail sales.  You’ve got to decorate.  Curiosity revealed that this table included bric a brac even when opening a drawer.  Or, maybe this was a more subtle sales gimmick than the store that sells faux books for retailer bookshelf displays.  Yeah, there’s that much stuff for sale.

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Lamp variety is in, and it’s not your typical stuff.  I liked this one.  It would be handy for spotting neighbors as they walk their dogs along the edge of your yard, for example.  Actually, it was pretty cool.

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Perhaps you would like a 2.5’ ball made of wood carved to approximate oyster shells (my best guess).  I can’t imagine a purpose other than its utility for school kids wanting to create mischief with their chewing gum.

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This carved rhinoceros is more obviously a thing.  What you do with it…

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Mr. Money Suit was presumably giving something away in the machine behind him.  He seemed preoccupied in not giving anything away, though.

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Here’s a peak into one of the showrooms.  Note the “decoration” on the back of the chair.   Perfect for that cousin who is a chiropractor right?  X-ray technician?

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There was, in fact, a wide variety of skeletal remains to be seen, some carved, some painted, but mostly on chairs.  I don’t get it.  Maybe it’s because it’s an election year.

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Well, if you’re going to decorate your living space with a theme of the deathly hallows, then you probably would favor this LED lit wreath to welcome your guests.  Yup.  Shotgun shells.

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This photo has nothing to do with the Mart.  But, it’s time to shift the mood to the substance of life.  It’s a Sublime Burger from Cypress Street Pint & Plate, located near Tech Square.  The “buns” are Sublime Donuts, moderately grilled so that it’s not a complete sticky mess to handle.  It comes with bacon, cheese, pickles, and caramelized onions, the last overpowering the flavor and requiring a moderate subtraction.  It’s not healthy, but it’s far better than the indulgence would suggest.

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