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Cinde W. Ingram

AmericasMart's garden grows

The top two floors of AmericasMart's Building Two West Wing will showcase more casual furnishings and accessories for living

The top two floors of AmericasMart's Building Two West Wing will showcase more casual furnishings and accessories for living, outdoors and indoors, when the doors open to buyers in January.

"We are sending a continued message — in a more grand way — of the size and scope of all the product collections and myriad products and resources that are presented here," said Jeff Portman, AmericasMart president.

Now measuring 7.7 million square feet, the downtown Atlanta showroom complex is expanding The Gardens concept it pioneered in 1994. A two-story fiber-optic waterfall serves as a focal point for the 170,000-sq.-ft. garden space, which is fully leased for its Jan. 6–14 debut.

When the decision was made three years ago to build the new wing, AmericasMart stood at about 5 million square feet and had no room to grow. "This gives us the opportunity to grow, but it's a controlled growth," Portman said, referencing the fact that the new wing was built so that additional floors could be built atop the existing 10 — for a total of 18 if needed.

"We've stayed with the wandering pathways but made it easier to navigate," said Karen Graeber, vice president of The Gardens leasing for AmericasMart. "We hired a team of ex-Disney Imagineers to recreate The Gardens venue. We added design elements scattered throughout the floor to help with buyer traffic, and we've got a great group of exhibitors coming in to show with us."

Portman said AmericasMart is adding value to its exhibitors and its retailers through education programs, expansion of product categories and improving the visual presentation in the market so buyers can take home merchandising tips from each show. Showroom owners were asked to bring in designers to raise the bar on visual merchandising.

"We are in the business of trying to provide (retailers) a competitive edge," Portman said. "We think we are well-positioned to do that."

Temporary exhibits in AmericasMart also include products for gardens and coastal lifestyles.

During non-market times last year, a team of 10 showroom managers wrote orders for nearly $3 million worth of home and furnishings product on The Gardens former floors, Graeber said.

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