This time of year if you stop in the store Mare or I may be missing, we aren’t vacationing, that’d be crazy! We are going all over the map looking for new and exciting things for the store! Last week we were in Atlanta Georgia, the largest of all of the trade shows we go to, and by far the most exhausting. There are three buildings, each least 15 stories high or more, filled with different wholesale vendors. It is set up almost like a giant shopping mall, row after row of showrooms, some are only 20’x20′ while others are 3 times the size of our store. There are more items than you can even imagine! Little things from pocket charms to giant things like dancing penguins that tower over you. There are strange things like toilet seat covers with Steve Harvey’s face on them or the “mensch on a bench” comparable to the “elf on the shelf” and really neat things like Oreo dippers and an owl made entirely out of post it notes. One building is general gifts (our favorite), one is holiday gifts and decor, and the third is fashion and temporary booths with all kinds of goodies.
Though our store is a very specific niche and many of the places do not carry items with race horses on them you never know what you may find. We scour the home decor showrooms looking for a equestrian themed lamp or pillow. You will think you can walk by the booth with all beach themed signs only to find that in the back corner is an entire wall of pet lover signs that are perfect for our customers. We walk, and walk, and then we walk some more looking for something new and exciting. Sometimes we don’t find anything of interest other times we find a great display idea that we never would have thought of, we snap a picture, and in a few weeks voila, our window is one of the best we’ve ever put together! You just never know.
Plus you see what colors everyone is using, whether stripes, solids, or bling is big. There are lots of purples and blues, this year’s color is radiant orchid. You’ll notice reoccurring animals, last year was the owl, this year the fox is huge. We also noticed how many things involved chalkboards, signs that look chalked, mugs that you can write on, ornaments with chalk. There are also some valuable seminars we can attend. We meet lots of other store owners and bounce ideas and stories off of each other. We have friends from Lake Placid that we rarely see through out the year and catching up at the trade shows is always fun!
This year we found some really great dog products, we are excited to expand our doggie section. New bowls and toys, some fun signs and cards, pint glasses and more. We also are going to have a much larger children’s section with a very prominent fox and horse theme! We found some wonderful children’s books and plush. Little onsies and pajama sets. We will have some great new jewelry lines, some equestrian themed and some not.
Really the trade shows prepare us for the summer and holiday season, most items we order we don’t get in until May or June. We have a knack for finding racehorse pieces in so many places! So our summer visitors will have plenty of options! Our holiday themes this year and traditional, horse, and Adirondack. We were happy to see felt and burlap were a part of many of the displays, things both Mare and I enjoy using when decorating. We get so many great ideas from the showrooms.
Though we work long days, and head back to the hotel room to do more work we do get to have some fun! This year we went to Mary Mac’s Tea Room, a local favorite, where we ate real southern comfort food like fried green tomatoes! And viewed a remarkable photo wall showing visitors like Jimmy Carter, James Brown, Richard Gere, Justin Beiber, as well as many government officials and sports stars.
We have lots of laughs at the show as well, this year one of our favorite memories is when we were separated from each other for a bit and neither realized it until we were 10 floors apart! We were waiting for an elevator to go down and Mare hoped on one. I had my back to her and was talking away until I turned around and realized she was no where in sight! She was 10 floors down calling my name into a crowded elevator. We found each other about 10 minutes later, both laughing a lot.
Next we leave for Philadelphia, Boston, some local shows, meetings with sales reps… We try to keep our customers involved in what we do so check out our Facebook page where we post tons of pictures.