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Live from Atlanta: New partnerships draw an audience at the Atlanta Gift Show

Courtney Paschal -- Casual Living, July 13, 2007

Despite the disappointment expressed by some vendors over the lack of traffic during this summer’s International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, many expressed high hopes and optimism about new product introductions for the outdoor market, a variety centering around newly created partnerships.

“We have been swamped,” said Tad Featherman, one-half of the mom and son design team who founded The Hen-Feathers Collection.

The company launched its line of “garden timepieces” in Atlanta this market, presented by Kirch & Co. Inspired by nature, the indoor/outdoor clock collection includes close to 200 SKUS, all crafted in a unique combination of bronze, copper or pewter metal bonded to a stone and polymer composition.

“It’s just been going great guns,” Featherman said. “It’s been wonderfully successful from mail orders straight through to nurseries and high-end gift boutiques.”

At New Creative, the emphasis this market has been on birding and the company’s new collaboration with National Geographic. The line of birdhouses, baths and feeders made its initial debut at the Dallas International Gift & Home Furnishings Show last month, where the company saw a definite “(sales) increase, and we’re seeing it here, too,” said Eileen Power. 

The collection features ceramic, metal, glass and mahogany wood products, several of which feature graphics inspired from the book, “National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” truly combining form and function.

“From a retail perspective, that kind of romance helps make the line successful,” Power said.

A party will be held tonight in New Creative’s showroom (Building 2, Suite 1441) to celebrate the launch of the new collection, featuring guest illustrator, editor and bird expert Jonathon Alderfer.

 Williamsburg introduced garden accents from two of its newest licensees, Campania International and SPI-Home. Campania’s line includes handcrafted garden containers and sculptures, including cast stone copies of urns in the Governor’s Palace gardens, part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. Birdbaths and an elegant Chippendale fretwork window box round out the line.

At SPI-Home, a selection of garden products in aluminum, iron and other metals were introduced, formerly produced by Virginia Metalcrafters. 

The Encore Group introduced a range of products for the home and garden, from rain gauges and garden statuary to inspirational products through its agreement with artist Thomas Kinkade.

“Mr. Kinkade is America’s most popular living artist, and we are excited and energized by the opportunity to present his remarkable work in a variety of original formats,” said “Redge” Hanes, chairman of The Encore Group.

Several companies debuted new or expanded outdoor lines during the show, including Evergreen Enterprises. The Evergreen Outdoor Living Collection, shown exclusively in Atlanta, features 165 items, including pots and urns, birdbaths, statuary and arbors. 

“We’re known for our flags and windchimes, so this is an extension into items Evergreen traditionally wouldn’t do,” said John L. Toler, vice president of sales for Evergreen and Cypress Home

The new collection is offered to retailers as part of a pallet program, where buyers can mix-and-match items to create their own pallet, receive the product within 120 days and pay only $50 in freight.

“This is a test,” Toler said, “and, so far, it has been well-received.”

Other things seen and heard during the show include:

• Inspirational items for the outdoors continue to sell, from crosses and angels to wall decor and other items bearing scripture-based quotes.

• Products designed and inspired by nature draw attention, such as an acorn bench from Unique Stone and teak root bench from Antiques & Interiors.

• The eco-friendly trend marches on, with products like the Wine Bottle Plant Nanny from The Plant Furniture Company, a unique way to recycle wine, water or 2-liter bottles, and re-use them to water plants.

• LED, solar and candle lights merged into the outdoor lighting category. Woodstock Percussion’s LED-powered water fountains drew attention, while solar powered urns and sculptures were introduced by NCE. Tealights proved to be a popular outdoor lighting choice for buyers at Napa Home & Garden, MSM 4 Imports and Majestic Handicrafts Co., to name a few.

A complete summer market review can be seen in Garden Decor’s upcoming Fall issue.

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