As part of my new year routine as a downtown business owner, January means it's time to seek out the best of the best for my shop, This & That Gifts. Before opening in 2011 and again in 2012, I visited the Atlanta gift trade show, discovering a number of items that have become top sellers for me, like my Nourish organic bath and body line and the Habersham wickless candle bowls.
This year I'm headed to the New York International Gift Show at the end of the month. The New York show features more vendors in a larger space but lower attendance than the 100,000 who flock to Atlanta in January. I'm hoping that mix will let me find some wonderful new treasures for the store.
I think my buying process is a lot like my customers’ shopping process. And why shouldn't it be? I'm a boutique shopper myself. That's part of why I opened This & That Gifts.
The first day I window shop, taking notes and talking to vendors about their merchandise. I also get pricing and collect brochures. Then I take everything back to the hotel and review it and make a list of the booths I want to revisit.
Typically I focus on the companies that have come in just for the gift show, as opposed to the larger companies that have permanent space in the trade center. It can be overwhelming with all those possibilities, so narrowing the options at the beginning helps me a lot.
The next day I go back and begin placing orders. Customers should begin to see some of my new finds appear within the month.
The first year I attended a gift show was harder. I'd never worked in retail buying, and I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Now I see things, and I just know they’ll do well in the shop. I see something and it just hits me. That's it!
Like my cork cages. Those have been another top seller, and I found those in Atlanta. I'm hoping that having a "New York state of mind" will let me discover a whole new world of this and that. You can keep up with my latest finds on Facebook or just stop by the shop.
See you downtown!
~Nancy C. Owner of This & That Gifts and Frankfort Historic Business Association President