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Buyers selective at Atlanta market

New product only philosophy spreading

Lindsey Hughes -- Casual Living, August 1, 2009

Buyers inundated the Atlanta market last month with a set agenda and a discriminating eye for new products. Vendors repeatedly said existing customers kept scheduled appointments, but only wanted to purchase new merchandise. Buyers showed little interest in products of seasons past, reasoning they could not lure consumers into stores with previously seen merchandise.

Phoenix Enterprises
Bumblebees create a buzz on the whimsical display from Phoenix Enterprises. Below, distressed meets texture in flirty Retro planters by Jill Rosenwald for Atuto.

“We are seeing our regular customers, but we have a shorter amount of time to make the sale because the buyers are physically staying in Atlanta for a shorter amount of time to cut back on cost,” said Christina Sehn, sales manager of Scheurich. “Our buyers only want to see what is new because that is the only way to get customers into their stores.

“I think the garden segment is suffering less than other parts of the industry because people can still afford to purchase pots and outdoor accessories,” Sehn said. Scheurich debuted a textured collection of pots, which buyers reacted to positively. “We have had great response to our introductions, and we will continue to bring out new designs to keep the buyers happy,” Sehn said.

Napa Home & Garden’s showroom buzzed with positive energy as an abundance of designs debuted. “We are excited about our faux bois collection, which is attracting a lot of attention,” said Jerry Cunningham, CEO of Napa Home & Garden.

Many vendors reported that the bulk of orders placed were with existing customers and designers, while only a handful of new customers were writing orders.

Esschert Design celebrated a new showroom location with a ribbon cutting during market. “We are enjoying our new location, which is more central and drives more traffic,” said Dirk Burghouts, key accounts manager of Esschert Design.

Designer Wicker & Rattan kept its showroom looking fresh by adding several new designs to existing collections as well as introducing collections. “We have had good reactions to the new collections,” said Trifu Boronka, president of Designer Wicker & Rattan. “We found at this show in particular, price point has been very important. Buyers are being more selective and cautious. They are not window-shopping. They are making appointments and sticking to them.”

Silhouettes of hummingbirds flit across Parasol’s indoor/outdoor lanterns.

Several vendors opted to drench new designs is bright, vivid colors as a method of attracting buyers. A few manufacturers noted cheerful color palettes create uplifting and playful energy, which are great combatants to the less-than-upbeat economy. Orlandi’s new Tezza Collection served as a prime example as garden accessories were splashed in popping shades of canary yellow, avocado green and ocean blue.

Atuto launched quite a few outdoor products that packed a colorful punch by designers Randy Ouzts and Jill Rosenwald. “We are consistently seeing new people now who never knew we were here before,” said Holland Millis, owner of Atuto. “You have to set yourself apart and continue bringing out innovative designs for the customers.

“We brought out 40% new products this market. We wrote three huge ticket orders in one day that could make the show for us.”

“We are having a better market than we expected given the current state of the economy,” said Jeremy Rago, national sales manager of Summer Classics. “A lot of our existing dealers are attending the show and traffic has been steady.”

Summer Classics’ SHOPS Program Director Mike Runnells said, “We have seen three times as many dealers this market in comparison to last year. Buyers are taking advantage of the hotel special AmericasMart is offering. It encourages first-time marketgoers to come and see what this market is all about.”

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