Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday Gift Post--Not One But Two Chicago Gift Shows.

I had thought I might make it to the Atlanta Gift Show again this year, but when I looked at the schedule, our store had too much going on the days I'd be gone. Then I saw that the Winter Institute overlapped with the Seattle Gift Show, and while that seemed like a great opportunity, I couldn't leave Milwaukee early due to two events one night, meaning I arrived in Seattle as the show was closing up shop.

So what's a gift buyer to do who has limited time and resources? I wound up going to two different gift shows in Chicago on the same day, and by public transport, no less. Amtrak got me to Chicago, where I transferred to the blue line, which left me half a mile from the Donald Stephens Convention Center. Alas, despite the tremendous amount of traffic between the train stop and the center, nobody seems particularly interested at facilitating this traffic--the path was barely shoveled, and we pedestrians felt like a hindrance to the cars. The irony is that I also despise driving in this area, far more than downtown Chicago, actually, so walking actually did seem like a step up.

At the show, The Voice auditions were going on at the same time, and I walked through the wrong door, at which point two officials starting screaming at me, "Out, out! Exit only! Get out, get out!!!" I stepped outside the door to see if there was any signage that said "exit only" and of course there was nothing.

I wound up buying three lines at the show, one new and two I'd picked up previously. When I took the blue line back downtown and walked over to the Merchandise Mart, I found one of the three lines actually had a full temporary showroom, whereas at the Stephens, it was just a corner of the commission rep's space. The other two lines I'd been thinking about reordering, and needed to spur myself to action.

At the Mart, the floors had not condensed further than one temporary floor and a partial floor of showrooms, though I noticed there was more empty space in the temporaries. I wound up buying three lines there as well, one new paper line from a stationery/card rep I am not usually in contact with, and two from the Anne McGilvray showroom because it was easy and there were show specials.

So how do I think I did? Two new lines came in, both of which I hope I'll reorder. I took back information on a half dozen other lines, and I'm hoping at least two of those will show up in our mix one day. I was thinking spring, so my favorite purchase was this fair trade line that features wire flowers, animals, and insects, wrapped with dyed newspaper and phone book pages. I'm holding the animal magnets for a bit later, but wanted to get the flowers out for Valentine's Day.

Similarly, I wanted to reorder these felt animal purses, as they went over so well at Christmas. I focused on spring animals and insects, making sure to include the ever-popular fox. The rest were birds and bees and butteflies and dragonflies. I'm not sure why  I think insects are for spring. I think it's like snow--we feature it in late fall when it's nice in theory, but by winter we're sick of it. So by summer, when the insects are bugging us, it's time to move onto something else, like sea creatures.

And finally, I do like to find at least one new card and paper product line. One Canoe Two is based in Columbia, Missouri, and features both offset and letterpress cards. They have several aesthetics, one of which reminds me a lot of Rifle Paper, while another bookseller spotted a Ghost Academy vibe, but not in the printing process of course, which is one of a kind. We've got loose cards and a few boxed assortments, plus some memo pads.

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