It's only the LARGEST, most OVERWHELMING gift show on American soil. For those of you not familiar with this concept...Store owners from across the US travel to Gift Shows, where they basically "window" shop for new products. This is where they meet up with business owner's they've done business with for years, place orders, order/find new products, or find out what the trends are in the marketplace for the upcoming year.
This time, I put aside my "Buyer's" badge (well, most of the time), and instead put on an "Exhibitor" Badge. For about a week I helped out a fellow business owner of Baskets of Cambodia, who I have purchased from for the past 5 years. Tom, the owner, has created an unbelievable company, with amazing moral ethics, sustainable fair trade practices, and some amazing products that are all hand-crafted in small villages in Cambodia. His workers can work for the neighboring sweat shops in terrible conditions, or work for him (often at home, or just in small groups, in great conditions) for about 3 times the wage. Their work generally consists of hand-weaving strong baskets from a ratan-type material, or weaving a local dried and dyed "grass" into beautiful purses. I have always loved the purses from Baskets of Cambodia...
and their baskets are such an amazing quality, they're the last ones you'll ever have to buy.
Anyways--my participation in this show meant that I had to drive a 1 hour commute into downtown Atlanta for a week (immediately following the unseasonal crazy snow fall that left packed ice downtown), and spend long hours on my feet. Okay, so, coming from Alaska...more than 2 cars in a row is "traffic," so I get a bit nervous on big roads!! Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed helping Tom out, and I think I was a pretty darn-good sales' person. After all, I know from experience that his products sell (they were always a best-seller in my store), and I would tell browsing buyers upfront that I didn't even work for the company--but I've been selling the products for 5 years, and they're great! Suddenly--those browsers turned into buyers!
Anyhow...the Americasmart is a ridiculously LARGE show, that almost literally brought me to tears in 2006, when Jared and I attended it for the first time. I walked in the front entry, and was confronted with this:
This is just one of 3 buildings, with approximately 13+ floors in each building. Permanent showrooms take up a large percentage of the space, while other areas are designated for "temporaries," where temporary exhibitors set up booths and attempt to market and sell their product. Permanent showrooms are typically owned by one business (i.e. Bearington Bears), or owned by a Product Rep company, who represents/sells MANY different product lines. They make money by getting a commission for the sales that they make (such as we do with our Wood Watches).
Anyways...there's a bit of Retail/Wholesale education for you for the year. I'm off to bed!