• Tina Benitez-Eves

GDA Reveals 2015 REA Winners

Industry Rising Star award given to The Grommet

2015 REANEW YORK – Gifts and Decorative Accessories' 64th Annual Retailer Excellence Award (REA) winners were revealed during the annual, gala event at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

In addition to the core award categories recognizing retailers' accomplishments, REAs were also given to an Outstanding Manufacturers' Rep, Retailers' Choice Manufacturer/Vendor of the Year Awards and an Industry Rising Star.

A perfect close to the opening weekend of NY Now, The Lighthouse was packed with approximately 300 guests. To kick off the evening, Diane Falvey, Editor-in-Chief, Gifts and Decorative Accessories, shared a few words on the true importance of recognizing retailers and their impact on the industry. "The cornerstone of the industry is the independent retailer," she said.

The 2015 Retailer Excellence Awards winners are:

Store Design/Redesign: D.L. Rhein - Los Angeles

Marketing Achievement: Glee Gifts - Mansfield, MA

Visual Merchandising: Bath Time - Cape May, NJ

Store Events: A. Dodson's - Suffolk, VA

The evening's first award went to this year’s Industry Rising Star: The Grommet. programmeCo-founder Joanne Domeniconi, who accepted on behalf of nearly a dozen colleagues who were also in attendance. The Industry Rising Star was followed by this year's Manufacturer's Rep award, which went to Karen Mischler, who has worked with Appelman & Schauben for 22 years.

Primitives by Kathy took home the Retailer's Choice Manufacturer of the Year award for the second consecutive year. Introduced by Dorothy Belshaw, president, gift, International Market Centers, Kathy Phillips, owner and CEO accepted the award on behalf of nearly 40 other colleagues, who were also in attendance and roared with excitement during Phillips' speech. "This honor tells me we're doing something right," said Phillips. "Nothing makes me happier than making other people happy."

To close the evening’s celebration, Frank Joens introduced Tom Mirabile, winner of this year's Gift for Life Industry Achievement Award, which recognizes overall excellence and contribution to the gift and home industry.

Mirabile, who is currently the senior vice president of global trend and design for Lifetime Brands Inc. has worked on the evolution of brands like Mikasa, Pfaltzgraff, KitchenAid, Farberware, Towle and Wallace, also serves as consumer trend forecaster for the International Housewares Association and a contributing editor for Pantone.

Emotional at times, Mirabile recounted losing friends to AIDS and why the fight against the disease still needs attention. Mirabile said that it seemed odd to win an award for what he loves to do. "It's like awarding a zebra for having stripes..." Mirabile also choked up as he recounted something his sister once told him, which continues to stick with him and speak to the industry as a whole. "Give people lasting snapshots in time that they will carry with them."

Click below to see more photos from this year's REA gala.

wine glasses


Tina BenitezTina Benitez-Eves | Business Editor, Gifts and Decorative Accessories

Tina covers the business of the gift/home decor and toy industry for Gifts and Decorative Accessories and Playthings. Also published in Men's Fitness, amNewYork, Wine Spectator and other publications.

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