• Caroline Kennedy

Direct from Market: Seattle

Seattle Gift Show registration lines were long at the convention center.

Showrooms were busy at the Pacific Market Center

The Russ Companies cut the ribbon to open its relocated showroom.

Seattle Gift Market Week got off to a strong start with a stream of buyers visiting the showrooms at the Pacific Market Center starting on Wednesday. “The showrooms were busy starting on Wednesday,” observed the Pacific Market Center’s leasing director Lisa Goodman. By Friday, the parking lots were full-to-overflowing and the showrooms were bustling. “Friday was like the old days!” enthused rep principal Jenny Hammons. “We were all busy writing [orders] all day.”

On Saturday morning at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center, buyers lined up early waiting for the Seattle Gift Show’s temporary exhibits to open. And there were long lines at the registration area up until nearly noontime. This was a very good sign for a good market. Greeting card exhibitor Judy Dugan of Jumping Cracker Beans noted, “We were writing orders from the moment the doors opened. Atlanta was good for us, but I expect to do even better here.”
Both venues have been going through a transformation. The Seattle Gift Show, under new management by Urban Expositions, which was pleased with the turnout, exhibited renewed vigor as evidenced by the long lines and many new exhibitors. Bill Douglas of Europa Giftware commented that he decided to exhibit his line of glassware for the first time in his own booth rather than in a rep booth. And after his best Atlanta show in 10 years, he looked forward to a good Seattle show as well. Another good sign: Some vendors who had not exhibited at the show in a while returned to the show. The Urban team worked hard at reaching out to work with buyers and exhibitors to improve the show experience.

The Pacific Market Center’s Lisa Goodman commented that the building had welcomed several new showroom tenants, some former tenants had returned to the building, and some tenants had expanded their space. With the support and help of the tenants, Goodman closed the fifth floor of the building temporarily to consolidate the showrooms on floors 1–4, while she is pursuing new industry services and tenants to occupy that space. The few showrooms that had been on the fifth floor were moved to new spaces on the other floors. The Russ Companies, whose ribbon-cutting G&DA caught during its time at the center, was one of those who moved from five to a bright new space on the first floor.

Grasslands Road is one of the new tenants at the Pacific Market Center. Director of sales Angela Stroh said that she was glad to have a permanent home in Seattle rather than having to go through the set up and tear down process of exhibiting in the temporaries. “We did better on Friday here than [our previous] opening Saturday at the temps,” she stated.

Traditions Unlimited is another of the tenants relocated from the fifth floor. Business in the new space was brisk with buyers gravitating to Pavilion Gift’s oversized mugs with a high perceived value and low price point. The large ceramic mugs with inspirational messages come with a cover that doubles as a coaster. Amia’s small stained glass holiday boxes that come with a tiny ornament tucked inside were also strong sellers. Again the low price point and high perceived value resonated with buyers.

Don Andrews of the Dandylines showroom noted, “People are looking for new. And they are looking for product lines with higher margins. Show special and free freight help them to counter costs.” Strong sellers in the showroom are the new collections from Grassroots Creations: Zig Zag bags and the fun rubber jewelry line Bounce, that G&DA first saw in Atlanta recently. The woven plastic handbags and totes are tagged to go from “Beach to Boardroom.”

Wine in the Kitchen

Wine in the Kitchen
Oopsie Daisy Designs

Oopsie Daisy Designs


First Timers
Regional markets are often where smaller companies begin their journey into the gift market and Seattle had a number of eye-catching companies new to the market. Fresh from Canada, Wine in the Kitchen made its U.S. debut. These wine tasting kits come gift-boxed complete with a DVD that guides tasters through the tasting process. It also includes wines bags, tasting sheets, a shopping list, hostess letter and guide book for hosting a tasting party.

For nature lovers, Oopsie Daisy Design presented cleverly designed and packaged bird seed cakes. Particularly fun are the egg-shaped seed cakes packaged in an egg carton that can be put out in a wire nest for the birds to enjoy.

A learning “toy” for kids and families is a new idea from Natural Aquatic: A Living Aquarium through Real Toy   Currently limited to the Northwest, the line hopes to expand its reach. The Living Aquarium is a small tank set up that comes with gravel plants and two African Dwarf Frogs.

The Kringlekins made their wholesale debut. These holiday Santa’s elves character figures have been around for nearly 20 years, retailing at art and craft festivals. They also won an Emmy Award in 1998 as Best Set Decoration on “The Young and The Restless.” And unlike many other holiday figures, Kringlekins are posable and can be arranged in many different vignettes with their complementary accessories.  

Are your customers looking for a way to keep hand towels from slipping off the towel rack? Try offering them ToweLocs. ToweLocs are handcrafted decorative pins that add an element of pizzazz to the hanging towel while holding it in place.

Skin So Soft
JC Beauty Group attracted interest with its line of Feeling Smitten Cupcake bath bombs. These bath fizzies come in several flavors, soften the bath water and moisturize the skin. They are available in two sizes and come packaged individually or in sets. They make perfect party and shower favors.

Particularly appealing (especially to an editor with aching feet from walking the aisles!) were the Foot Repair natural footcare products from Northridge Gardens. There’s the Flip Flop repair, Nurse Your Feet Tired Foot Relief, Winter Foot Repair, Stiletto Foot Repair and Cowboy Foot Repair — each made of different combinations of soothing herbs, fragrances and other ingredients.

For the baby with sensitive skin on their bums, there is the All natural ointment Rear Schmear from Jenteal Soaps. This gentle ointment created a natural protection against diaper rash. Packaged together with Baby Butter skin moisturizer and Baby Bubbles cleaner, it makes an ideal baby shower/baby gift suggestion.  

And speaking of baby bums … The Baby Bum casting kit is a novel baby gift suggestion for the new parent. The kit is one of several Tummies 2 Bummies casting kits offered by Sanoma Innovations. The kit includes medical grade plaster and instructions for making a plaster cast of baby’s bottom as a memento.

Yellow Label Kids was a strong seller at the Sugar B Sales booth. Buyers were attracted to the company’s fanciful knitted stuffed toys with rattles inside for babies. Also of interest was the TOTEM line from Hip from Holland.  TOTEM sets are construction models made from sturdy cardboard panels. The Tree of Life kit and Nature set are particularly interesting.

Organic sculpting clay doughs seem to have growing interest with parents. Two local companies were featured. Max’s Mud is made with rice flour, is gluten-free and comes in eight colors in a reusable container. And Mama K’s Play Clay  are fragranced with aromatherapy oils; there are seven fragrances and colors. The 5-scent tube is very giftable.

Kitras Art Glass

Colorstory Designs

H2M Trading

Crafted by Hand
Kitras Art Glass continues to impress buyers with its blown glass globe ornaments with interior “landscapes” that resemble trees. The globes are done in a variety of sizes and make great year-round sun-catching ornaments for sun-room, patio or front window.

The creative pieces from Colorstory Designs are artistic and eco-friendly. The designers re-purpose discarded magazine pages and other paper products to create shadowbox wall decor as well as other gift and home objects.

Moorcroft Pottery and H2M Trading both made the trek up the coast from the California Gift Show in Los Angeles. The severe West Coast weather nearly prevented their booth displays from getting to Seattle in time for the show. Fortunately that was not the case, and both exhibitors were set up and ready to sell when the doors opened at the convention center. H2M Trading imports handmade goods from South America, including incredible vessels made from waterproofed paper.

Caroline KennedyCaroline Kennedy | Editor in Chief, Gifts and Decorative Accessories

Editor-in-chief Caroline Kennedy has been with Gifts & Decorative Accessories magazine for more than 23 years. Her long association with the gift industry gives her a broad perspective on its trends and the ever-changing landscape of gift retailing. She brings her veteran's-eye view to the highlights and sidelights of our everyday world. When asked why she has stayed on the job for so long, her answer is, "It's like going shopping every day!"

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