Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our Trip to the Merchandise Mart in Atlanta

We just got back from our annual January trip to Atlanta to order for Fall and Winter of 2011.  We brought our employee, Emily Murphy Saksa, and our friend, Susan Medart who makes Knollwood Lane products for our store, to help us order.  Our flight left at 6:30 a.m. and it was actually 2 days later than we had originally planned to leave because of the ice in Atlanta.  The photos are on my IPhone so the quality isn't perfect, but bringing a huge camera just wasn't practical.

Angie and Susan on the plane.  We were so tired at 6:30 a.m. but excited!
 When we got to Atlanta, we dropped our luggage at the Twelve Hotel and took a cab straight to market.

Angie and Susan in the cab.  We actually made friends with one driver and we called him every time we needed a ride. 
 When we actually got out on the roads, we realized just how unprepared Atlanta was for the ice storm they had just gotten.  The streets were filled with things like sand and kitty litter.  Nothing was plowed or salted.  It was kind of a mess!
This is what the streets looked like!
The first thing we did was to go to our favorite showroom, Creative Co-Op.  It was pretty crowded but we still got to work with our favorite rep, Harriet, and we met the owner and chatted with him for a while.

Angie looking at all the fun, french merchandise.  It was really overwhelming!

Angie and Susan taking a rest on a sofa in the showroom.
We ordered the mirror in this picture.
After we ordered the "everyday" items in this showroom, we looked at some of their Christmas stuff.
Some vintage looking Christmas stuff we ordered in Creative Co-Op

On the same floor is another of our favorites, Peacock Park.  I didn't get any good pictures because you're not allowed to take photos in most of the showrooms, but I snuck a few.

An overall picture of people shopping.

A cool dress form and some french stuff.

We visited a few more showrooms the first day and then went back to the hotel and got room service and made plans for the second day.  We were all so exhausted from getting up at 4:40 to catch the plane so we went to bed really early.

The second day, we split into two groups so we could cover more ground.  Emily and I went to lots of showrooms that were filled with Christmas and Halloween.  The first was Bethany Lowe, one of our favorites.
A shelf of Halloween at Bethany Lowe.
We ordered some cute headbands and hats for Halloween.

I asked Emily to model one of the headbands and she struck a pose.

I tried on a skull hat.
 We ordered some cute, vintage looking things like the pumpkin lantern below.
This lantern comes with a light inside.

The Bethany Lowe Christmas area.  We ordered lots of glittery, amazing stuff designed by our favorite designers.  It was really fun to see all the 2011 designs.
The next showroom was ESC.  We get most of our cute bunnies, snowmen, and angels from ESC.
Some fun snowmen and a burlap banner we ordered.

A bunny snowman

A display in the showroom that had lots of queens and angels.
A queen I ordered for Christmas.
Some more fun snowmen I ordered
A fun glittery sleigh that says, "Winter Magic"
After Emily and I ordered at ESC, we went to Midwest/Seasons of Cannon Falls to get our Wendy Addison goodies and other designers.  I didn't take a lot of pictures because it was unbelievably busy and really overwhelming.
We're having an aqua themed Christmas section for 2011 and got a lot of it here.

A Wendy Addison display.  My mom wanted the burlap chair but it wasn't for sale.

The second day was coming to an end, but we had one more showroom.  This is the place where we get our belsnickle santas.
We also ordered the cutest Halloween stuff including the tablecover below and the lace covered pumpkin sitting on it.
It comes with the black tulle attached!  So cute!
A fun standup raven that has a note that says, "Nevermore"
At the end of the second day, we had dinner in the lobby of our hotel.  Emily ordered a bleu cheese olive martini and was disappointed to find that instead of stuffing the whole olive, the just put the cheese in the opening of the olive.
A sad martini.
We shared desserts and scraped the plates clean...
A molten chocolate cake we devoured.
After a couple of cocktails, we all went up to the room and got plenty of sleep so we could have the energy for another 10 hour day of ordering.

Day three was probably my favorite day because we got to meet Cody Foster!!!  He's been one of our favorite designers for a long time.  Remember the cool, mercury glass whale ornaments we had this past year?  And the really elaborate paperpulp houses?  He designed those!  Here's a picture of me and my mom with Cody Foster.
We felt like we were meeting a celebrity!
After placing a huge order in Cody Foster's showroom, we looked around at other booths in the High Design section.  Here's a picture of the aisles.
Another thing we found in the high design area was Jill Schwartz jewerly.  We've had a few of her pieces before and they sold, so we decided to re-order.  Here are a few examples of her work.
After ordering the cool jewelry, we witnessed something really strange...suddenly a band started playing and weird people started dancing.  I snapped a few pictures but still have no idea who they were or why they suddenly started playing.  It's so strange!
They had weird costumes and puppets!
They were marching so it got a little blurry.
The band was really loud, so we moved on to other showrooms.  I didn't get any more pictures that day.  I kept forgetting to take them because we were so excited about the things we were ordering!

Day four included a couple of places with cool french furniture and accessories.
This is the showroom where we get our cool canvas bags.  We re-ordered all sized of them.
We ordered mercury glass here and those cool panels hanging in the background.
 Here are pics from Blue Ocean Traders, a place with old items that can be ordered.
You can see Susan in the background looking around. 
A fantastic chair with a burlap back.
We had been looking for a good place for pillows that were reasonably priced the whole market, and finally found them!  Below are some examples of the pillows we got.  We felt really bad for the rep in the showroom because we kept throwing pillows around and changing our minds.
Some of the pillows we ordered.

This is my very favorite picture from the trip!

Our last stop for the day was K&K where we got some great holiday goodies.
A cool striped wall.
A tree that was all done up for Christmas.
Halloween wall decor
The fourth day was really productive and with only one left, we had some margaritas at a Mexican restaurant and called it a night.

The last day of market was a lot of fun!  We got to hang out in the cash and carry section.  There were strict rules against taking pictures here so I only got a photo afterwards of some of the rings we got.
Our very last stop was in the booth of Glenda Gies handbags.  I have wanted a Glenda Gies bag for years now and we finally ordered some.  They're not inexpensive but they're soooo special that we thought maybe we'd carry a couple and see how people respond to them.  And if they don't sell, we can always take them home! :)

I didn't get any photos there, but found some online to give examples.
One of my favorite bags ever!
I'm pretty sure we ordered this exact bag.
Overall, this was a great buying trip for The White Rabbit.  We can't wait for our customers to see the great stuff we ordered.  It will be coming in gradually.  It's so hard to wait for all of it, but we have to follow the budget!  I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip.  Please come in and see the new stuff because some of it will be in the store soon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting ready for market in Atlanta

    To market, to market we go!!!  We can not even begin to explain how excited we are for market this year.  We have never been more experienced, more confidant, more organized, or more ready for our buying trip. 
    For those of you not familiar with market, just imagine several huge buildings filled with showrooms that contain everything you could possibly order for a store.  Everyone who owns a store (a store that carries "new" inventory anyway) goes to one of a few of these to order products.  We have been to Dallas, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Chicago and have found Atlanta to be the best in terms of selection.  There are 6 million square feet of showrooms.  Some are boring and cheesy and some are the most glorious experience ever!

What we do at market, basically, is that we look at all the merchandise that will be available for 2011 and some of 2012 and tell the sales reps what we would like to order.  We have to decide things like whether to get 6 of the cute lamps we like or 24 and get a lower price.  It's really hard!  Then we tell the sales rep when we would like the merchandise shipped to our store.  It's really frustrating because you want everything all at once because you're so excited about it, but have to spread out your ship dates to keep the budget in check.  Lindsay is in charge of the budget....always...

The reason we are so prepared this year is that we have made "mood boards" that tell us what we want for different sections of the store.  I think we got the idea from one of the fashion reality shows.  We watch waaaaay too much of those shows!  We basically started by cutting out pictures of things in magazines (and I mean we have hundreds of magazines) that we love.  Then we looked through them and tried to find common themes between some of the images.  It became clear that  while everything was sort of vintage inspired, some of the things we liked were really "cottag-ey" and others were more "French-ey" and others more "european Rustic-ey".  We separated the different areas and took a really fun trip to Anatols in Brentwood to look for fabric that could go with each section.  I gathered a few paint sample cards and voila! a mood board was born.
The cottage area will have blues and greens and creams.  It will have starfish and shells and an overall casual feel.  This area is fun and bright with clean lines.  Nothing sophisticated or "rich" looking.  Just a casual, no-fuss, family feeling.

Here's the Glamorous area below.  This is Lindsay's creation.  She wants a little more drama in the store.  This area is all about velvet, silk, pattern and gold, gold, gold.  Not yucky, shiny gold; the good kind of gold that looks old and rich.  We're going to experiment with some sheer gold washes on painted furniture too like the blue cabinet pictured below.  Ooh can't wait!

Below is the area we like to describe as Rustic European.  It will have tan linen, burlap, faded writing details, old suitcases, branches, watch faces, and darker colors in general.  Angie has always kind of had an affinity toward things that look like they're falling apart and those things fit right in with this look.

Above is an area really similar to the Rustic European area but a little more clean lined.  We will probably mix these two looks because they're not much different.

Below is the feminine area.  This has more traditional shabby chic elements to it.  It will have cream linen, white denim, floral fabrics and lots of white, cream, pink, and aqua.  The furniture is the white, shabby type that we have always offered.

Each of these boards is about 3 feet by 2 feet so we've just taken pictures of them with our iphones (The photos shown are actually taken with an iphone) so that while we're ordering, we can reference them.  This way, we won't end up with a bunch of merchandise that doesn't fit into any area of the store.

I hope you enjoyed peeking at our mood boards!  I will take pictures during market and blog about it when we get back.  See you soon!