Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Domestic Trade Shows issue 12/01/2009

AmericasMart’s main goal for the first half of 2010 is simple: Get retailers into the building.

This story first appeared in the December 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

To this end, the mart has added staff, increased its marketing budget and refocused on special events to encourage still-hesitant buyers to shop the Atlanta Apparel Market.

“We’re hurting just like everybody else, but the encouraging thing is that we’re investing more money on marketing in one of the most difficult economic times we’ll ever see,” said Lori Kisner, senior vice president of leasing for AmericasMart, adding that 80 percent of the new funding is being allocated to staffing. The mart has created three marketing positions and hired two more people to work in retail services, a department that focuses primarily on getting buyers to attend shows.

“The beauty of specialty retail is that you don’t have one or two big retailers who, if they don’t come to the show, your whole market falls apart,” she explained.

In a continued effort to make the experience more enticing for buyers, AmericasMart will feature on-site and off-site events during shows, perks for attendees such as snacks and cocktails and add more runway shows to highlight product.

Kisner reflected on the new wholesale market climate, saying that although buyers have trended toward immediate deliveries in the past year as a way to hedge against the recession, she expects buying patterns to loosen up in the spring or summer as the industry regains confidence.

“This time last year, the market had become so oversaturated and people had overbought so much inventory, they had to dump it. We all got caught with our pants down,” she said. “I think immediates will be more prevalent than they were before the recession, but you can’t run a business based solely on immediates.”

The mart is also focusing on its aesthetic appeal, undergoing some product category reorganization as well as polishing its image. Temporary booths on the fourth floor are being moved to the third and more young contemporary exhibitors are being relocated closer to Premiere, a high-end contemporary show-within-a-show on the second floor.

“There was no real synergy in the temporary spaces because they were so spread out and we were missing out on cross-selling and cross-trafficking opportunities,” Kisner said.