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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Art Licensing Editorial: Buyers Swarm the January 2020 Atlanta Gift and Home Furnishing Market

It has been years since the January wholesale Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishing Market at the AmericasMart in Atlanta, Georgia has been so crowded with buyers. The elevators, escalators, showrooms, and hallways were packed with people in the three buildings that have from 14 to 21 floors of permanent showrooms and temporary booths.  As usual, the most activity was in showrooms that had the most variety of products as buyers looked for new products to purchase and sell to their customers.

It should not have been surprising that the show had so many buyers because according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) article “NRF says 2019 holiday sales were up 4.1 percent” (published 1/16/2020) and retailers and other kinds of buyers (ex. hospital gift stores) needed to replace their merchandize for 2020 holidays.  According to NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz “This was a healthy holiday season, especially compared with the decline in retail sales we saw at the end of the season in 2018. Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn’t go away. We’ve had months of strong employment numbers, high wages and strong household balance sheets. There’s no doubt that gave consumers a sense of confidence about their ability to spend, and they did their part to keep the economy moving."

The increase in the number of buyers at the Atlanta Gift Show is great news for artists that license their art. Companies that license art will sell more products and that will increase the royalty amount that artists earn.

Below are examples of trends seen at the 2020 Atlanta Gift Show. The photos shown in this article were taken in public areas of the AmericasMart were photos can be taken without permission or the photos were taken with permission by the companies. Note: Most of the photos taken were of companies that do not license art for their products but use their own in-house designers.

Art Trends
Most of the art trends seen at this show are elements (components of an image) that are evergreen (timeless) and used on a lot of products.  Some of the elements that are evergreen include dogs, cats, bunnies, turkeys, roosters, garden flowers (most popular = poppies, daisies, sunflowers, poinsettias), birds (most popular = cardinals and hummingbirds), insects (dragonflies, butterflies, honeybees, ladybugs), seashells, lighthouses, plaid decorations (bows, borders, backgrounds and used on elements), fall leaves, pumpkins, Santa Claus, snowmen, and more.

At the present the most popular elements are bees, lemons, farm themes, exotic leaves (fronds, ferns), vintage vehicles (trucks, cars, campers), animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, farm, etc.), and sayings (on plaques, pillows, towels, etc.). In the last couple of years nautical themes, mermaids, flamingos, llamas, vintage bicycles, succulent and cactus plants were seen on products everywhere. However, the amount of these elements were fewer at this show than previous shows. The only new element that I saw at the Atlanta show was Christmas gnomes (manikins).  See more information below in the Christmas section about Christmas gnomes.

Keep in mind that not all trending themes and elements are suitable for every kind of product.  The popular lemon element is seen mostly on towels, tabletop and kitchen products. And, dogs, and farm animal heads are seen mostly on pillows and decorative boxes. Also remember artists that it is important to research a company website before submitting art to them. Make sure that the company does license art and your art style and theme fits their product line.

Pantone 2020 Color of the year
Pantone's color of the year for 2020 is called Classic Blue which is considered a navy blue shade and is versatile and sophisticated according to Good Housekeeping author Juliana LaBianca in the article “15 Home Decor Trends You’re About to See Everywhere in 2020”.  For several years, navy color has been popular for clothing and home decor (furniture, pillows, towels etc.) but so far it is not often used in the gift industry that seems to use brighter colors. Note: If interested, read the above article to see what is trending in home décor (from navy paint to floral wallpaper).

The farm theme is still going strong and was seen in many showrooms at Atlanta. Farm animals (cows, sheep, goats, chickens and roasters, etc.), barns, trucks, farm sayings, etc. are very popular.  The grey/white and black/white check design is used on many farm theme products. Even though those check designs are mostly considered farm theme designs, they are also used on other products as seen in the photos below.

Christmas products appeared to be showcased by companies in their showrooms at the Atlanta Gift Show more than other themes if they sold Christmas products. This year like last year, the popular Christmas elements seen at AmericasMart were snowmen, Santa, reindeers, polar bears, moose, pinecones, holly, cardinals, poinsettias, Christmas sayings, some trucks, trains, etc.  All kinds of red/green/white plaid designs and some grey/white and black/white check designs were used to spruce up the Christmas decorations and designs.

Consumers usually want to decorate with traditional bright red and dark green elements such as shown above in the Raz Imports photo. Traditional red poinsettia and berries with green pine needles and holly and maybe some white bows were used to give the decorations a little ‘snap’.  But if you look closer at the Raz photos you will see that Raz also added spring flowers such as red tulips, white daffodils and white magnolias to the Christmas decoration to make it a little different and show that non-traditional décor can also be used in a Christmas display.

Scandinavian garden gnomes (manikins) have been popular for a long time and is often seen in gardens and sometimes as art on products.  In the last three years the popularity of Christmas plush gnomes has slowly grown and was available in many retail stores during Christmas last year.  Several buyers I talked to said that they had purchased some gnomes for last Christmas and they sold “really" well. And obviously the wholesale companies at the Atlanta Show thought that gnomes would also sell well because gnomes seemed to be in almost all the showrooms that have Christmas products. Now that Christmas gnomes has gone viral, I wonder how long gnomes will stay popular with consumers?

The coastal theme is still popular but not many coastal products were showcased up-front at Atlanta this year as in previous years.  Flamingos, mermaids, and octopus did not seem as popular as seashells, starfish, seahorses and coastal sayings on plaques.  Blue-green/white colors seemed to be the most popular although navy/white OR navy/blue-green are also used in nautical products as shown in the C& F Enterprises photo below.
 Transformation of AmericasMart 
International Market Centers (IMC) purchased the AmericasMart in 2018 and since then they have been making a lot of changes.  Recently IMC has rebranded the Atlanta Market major gift, décor and lifestyle market brands, which includes a new name and logo.  The above new Atlanta Market logo is similar to IMC other wholesale showroom facility logos (High Point in North Carolina and Las Vegas in Nevada). For more information read "IMC Rebrands Atlanta Market”.

The next phase in transforming AmericasMart is to move some of the showrooms from one building to another.  Originally Building One (Bldg. 1) was meant to have showrooms of only home accent (furnishings, rugs, wall décor, fine linens, etc.) products and Building Two (Bldg. 2) was meant to have showrooms of gifts and other miscellaneous products such as gourmet food and housewares. But over the years, home accent showrooms were also put into Bldg. 2 instead of only Bldg. 1 and seasonal gifts (mostly Christmas products) showrooms were put into Bldg. 1 instead of only Bldg. 2.  Now that the January Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishing Market is over, those showrooms will be moved to the correct buildings so that the same type of products will be in only one building.  That way buyers that are looking for certain type of products will not have to go to another building searching for what they want to purchase.  

This change will NOT be easy at first for buyers that have shopped at AmericasMart for years.  They are use to the location of the companies they usually purchase products from and will now have to look for them in a different building. Also the change will NOT be easy for the companies that need to move to different buildings.  It will be expensive to pack and move their products, decorations, and display furniture.  It will also take time to rearrange and decorate the new showroom that probably will not be the same shape or size that they are now using. Needless to say most of the companies that are moving are not happy, as they will need to start moving soon to their new showroom. IMC wants all the showrooms that need to move be done by the time the next Gift and Home Furnishing Market opens in July.

AmericasMart Showroom Videos
View the following videos to see a couple of AmericasMart showrooms and products
• "AmericasMart Atlanta - 2020 Gifts & Decorative Accessories Interview” CTW Home Collection  (Jan 17, 2020) 

• "Atlanta Market at AmericasMart 2020” Sullivan Gift (Jan 15, 2020)

Related Articles

"Art Licensing Editorial: January 2018 Atlanta Gift Market Success & Trends

"Art Licensing Editorial - 2017 January Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market Trends / Record-Breaking Attendance

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