AmericasMart grows Living. Outdoor/Indoor. The Gardens. showcase for winter market

ATLANTA -- Casual furniture, miniature gardening and birding and backyard nature are among the top concepts trending for early 2013 that will be showcased in Living. Outdoor/Indoor. The Gardens. at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, AmericasMart announced. The winter market will take place Jan. 9-16, with temporaries open Jan. 11-15.

With consumers embracing and investing in outdoor living spaces in ever-growing numbers, more than 20 casual furniture companies will exhibit on Floors 9 and 10 of Building 2 WestWing this January. An improving economy and a continued desire to entertain at home signal an upswing in sales for casual furniture, AmericasMart said.

"I anticipate a very good 2013," said Joseph Cilio, president of Alfresco Home, a long-time Floor 10 exhibitor. "Ever so slowly, our economy is going to improve."

To capitalize on buyer enthusiasm for the category, Alfresco will introduce new lines of cast aluminum furniture and all-weather wicker woven seating.

"After more than 25 years in this business, we've seen a lot of different cycles, and I think people are really gravitating toward outdoor living and spending time around the barbecue or fire pit," Cilio said.

A wide variety of styles and materials will be available from Crestwood Garden Collection, CRP Products, Darlee Outdoor Living, Hansen, Innova Hearth & Home, Jensen Leisure Furniture, Meadow Décor, Oakland Living Corp., Poly-Wood, Ratana Home and Floral, Southern Komfort Bed Swings, Summer Classics, Telescope Casual Furniture, Three Birds Casual, Three Coins Cast, Treasure Garden, Unique Arts and Uwharrie Chair Co., among other casual furniture companies exhibiting in January.

"As the housing market continues to strengthen, consumers look for creative, functional options for home improvement - a perfect opportunity for casual furniture," said Jill Brady Ford, executive director of leasing for Living. Outdoor/Indoor. The Gardens. at AmericasMart.

For those who don't have space to create an outdoor living area, miniature gardening is a blossoming trend for both urban consumers and those who enjoy the creative challenge of building a tiny environment. At least seven companies exhibiting on Floors 9 and 10 of Building 2 WestWing specialize in the miniature and fairy garden niche. Campania International, Echo Valley, Georgetown Home & Garden, GSI Homestyles, Land & Sea Imports, Magnet Works and The Stone Bunny are some of those with specially designed products.

Retailers can learn how to create, display and sell the concept during a dedicated seminar, "Miniature Gardening How-To," presented by Tara Dillard and sponsored by Magnet Works. The seminar will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 in the Building 2 WestWing, Floor 10 Seminar Room.

Retailers will also have a chance to learn how to be part of the $55 billion dollar birding and backyard nature industry with "Identifying Your Birder," presented by Raymond David of Birding Business magazine at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12 in the Building 2 West Wing, Floor 10 Seminar Room. This seminar provides an opportunity to learn to identify and cater to backyard and destination birders to build a business that reaches a broad and enthusiastic demographic.

With traditional bird houses, bird feeders, bird baths and innovative bird-themed gifts, there are appealing products across the category. A new addition, Opticron, will have a temporary exhibit on Floor 4, Building 2 WestWing. The company started manufacturing world-class binoculars in Europe more than 40 years ago. Opticron brought its technology to the United States with the motto "smaller, lighter, brighter, sharper" to meet the needs of birding enthusiasts, sportsmen and travelers.

To explore the full spectrum of product available in the collections, buyers are encouraged to "Start in the Gardens!" at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 and Friday, Jan. 11 for coffee and breakfast selections on Floors 9 and 10 of Building 2 WestWing.

A new corridor on Floor 10 will link Building 2 WestWing and Building 2 with direct access to Building 1. The grand opening champagne celebration is at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10.


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