Runnin’ Wild in Atlanta

Five days in the Atlanta market and I can tell you this – if I see another wall sign/plaque/wall-anything/ with block/script/hand-drawn letters using the same shopworn messages that can be found on a hundred others it will be way too soon. And chalkboard design – it is so pervasive now that they have all morphed into the same look and feel so you absolutely cannot tell one company’s from another. Usually that means bye-bye trend.
But enough of that. Great show even if the traffic was a little off. The place was reeking with positivity. Overflowing with opportunity. Or if Bush 43 was still around, maybe he’d say it had oppor-tivity-posi-tunity.
We decided the Word of the Week was “positive”. Everybody we met with (and in 5 days of running we met with a lot) was up, they were happy with the way the market was going, the customers were buying and they wanted to talk product. There was a lot more of “I think we have something here, expand this, add X more designs and send it to me” rather than the “well, send it over and we’ll look at it” that used to be the norm. Of course you never really know until it hits the paperwork (and maybe not even then) but the message was much more encouraging. We talked with the owner of one of the bigger rep agencies and she was quite happy with sales at the show because on Thursday they had their biggest single show day ever with orders topping seven figures. Ya gotta love that!
One of our end-of-day meetings with a gift company was particularly interesting – we were sitting around chatting with the owners and a couple of their long term retailers when they asked if the retailers could sit in on our meeting. We were absolutely on board – what an opportunity to get immediate feedback from the people who make the final decisions. It turned into a great session, two hours of presentation, analysis, questions and answers while we all swilled wine and gobbled handfuls of Chex mix. You can’t pay for that kind of education. If I had my druthers it would be an annual event (well, as long as it’s the last meeting of the day). 

What’s Next? is always the question in this business, but it seems to have taken on a new urgency as of late. If you take away most of what dominates in the market today – signs with words, chalkboard, Duck Dynasty, various redneck approaches, camo, woodland creatures – there’s not much of anything left. It’s a great big hole that everybody would like to fill – a genuine huge opportunity for creatives if they can find something fresh and new for the market. What it will be is anybody’s guess at this point, but if you think you know, please call me ASAP, let’s talk…

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