Because we’ve done so well with our leather banks, I’m always on the lookout for more. In Atlanta last year, I found a few of our designs plus a couple of great new ones from another vendor, but alas, the minimums were too high for me to make it work. I had to pass on the order.
When I was at Chicago in July, I stopped by the Mira Ethnicity booth, which was not only selling some of our old favorites, but a few designs she had created herself, including a new variety of bird and owl. I thought the camel and dino, which were not part of her custom line, were also quite snappy, and brought them in as well. Closer to holidays, we’ll be bringing out her wire holiday bowls, which got some oohs of approval from the Boswellians. And best of all, our new banks are fair trade certified.
In August, at the Minneapolis gift show, I was prowling the various commission booths, where lots of different lines rent a little space. Some lines will have a full showroom in one city will share space in a commission showroom in a second, and not appear at all in the third.
At one showroom, I was intrigued by a stationery/boxed card line that we used to buy at Schwartz. I had made the decision when we opened to pass on the line, but now I actually found enough items to place an order. I was quite taken with the beaded collection of boxed cards, journals, and diaries that featured a bird, an elephant, the Eiffel Tower, and a heart (the first three motifs work really well for us, as you probably know). There was an Indian graphic feel running throughout, and I was sold. There were also monkey and robot thank you cards that caught my eye and I finished out the order with a stationery collection that I'd call modern French ornate .
I put the order together, only to find that a lot of the things I liked in the line had been retired. With a few substitutions, I was able to make minimum, but it made me feel that the vendor swung for something closer to our store’s esthetic, and came to the conclusion that they felt they fouled out and retrenched. That’s ok, there’s got to be something for everyone and every store, and I still like what shipped.
And finally, with Labor Day around the corner, it was time to pull out the foxy fall collection from Tag. You know that I and several other booksellers are suckers for woodland creatures and this line features a fox, squirrel, raccoon, chipmunk, and hedgehog. There are appetizers plates and mugs and napkins and dishtowels, a doorstop, and the ubiquitous salt and pepper shaker. I told my booksellers that after last year’s miss with the apple and crow shakers, I wasn’t going to try again, but the hedgehog and tree stump were such favorites that my staff promised me they would buy out the line customers didn’t bite.
And yes, the items are nicely coordinate with an assortment of fall nature titles and some woodland plush. The raccoon is my favorite; I wish it could be reordered separately, instead of in an assortment. I’ll have to show it to the one who sometimes hangs out in our alley.
Assortments can be a blessing or a curse, a topic I've already discussed in depth regarding gray robots. With a lot of vendors, it's the only way we can bring in a variety of product, but in many cases, we simply can sell some varieties much better than others. Remember our rubber ducks in little professional outfits? We would almost immediately sell out of the detective and the chef, but the other jobs would just sit there. I'm pretty sure that our vendor was importing but not designing the product. So one day I'm going to be walking through one of these showrooms and find a detective duck for sale and I'm going to buy it.