Shopping AmericasMart

Stan Topol is one of America’s preeminent decorators. As his design notoriety has grown in stature over the years, he’s done everything from appearing on billboards for American Express to designing a residence for Elton John. In January, I joined him on a shopping excursion at AmericasMart Atlanta, the world’s single-largest home furnishings and gift marketplace. While many showrooms at the trade-only facility are open year-round, every January and July is the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, where tens of thousands of designers and retailers from around the globe convene to buy for their clients and stores.

On my visit, I try to keep up with Topol’s pace, though I feel as if he has trained for a marathon and I’ve only prepared for a 5K. He’s a serious shopper and has a discerning eye for detail and precision.

“Shopping with a critical eye, the Mart offers me 300 more sources right here in the South that I can’t find anywhere else in the States,” says Topol. “I’d have to fly to Los Angeles, New York and Chicago for the same amount of sources—and then realize I’d missed a couple of places along the way.” I asked Topol how he’d describe “the Mart,” of which it’s commonly referred. “I don’t know how many people have been to High Point for the furniture market, but it’s like going to High Point, yet you don’t have to travel, and you can get a taste of almost everything available all under one roof. Plus, you can see it all in a day if you’re good. At High Point, you might need a week if you’ve never been before.” Beyond furniture, for which High Point is best known, the Mart also features everything else for the home, including lighting, linens, tabletop décor, outdoor furniture and more.

“Two of the things that both the Mart and [the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center] offer is that you can see, touch and feel the product. You can’t do that while sitting in front of your computer. And if you want to adjust the pitch of a chair or sofa, try doing that over the Internet.”

On a current project, Topol reaped the synergies that both the Mart and ADAC offer design professionals and retail buyers.

“They’re a perfect complement to each other,” he says. “I’ve just ordered a less-expensive sofa from the Mart and I’m covering it in an elegant Manuel Canovas fabric from ADAC; it’s going to look like a million dollars but the best part is that it’s going to last. I might be looking for value, but service and quality have to be a part of it, too.” Spoken like a true pro.

What is AmericasMart? AmericasMart-Atlanta is the world’s single-largest home furnishings and gift marketplace, the preferred product resource for specialty retailers and designers from every U.S. state and more than 90 countries.

I’m a designer and have always shopped at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center. What am I going to find at the Mart that I can’t find at ADAC? AmericasMart and ADAC cover the design resource spectrum with complementary product presentations appropriate to the unique nature of each facility, offering designers unmatched selection across lines, styles and price points. AmericasMart’s medium to medium high-end merchandise selection includes great depth and breadth in upholstery and case goods, plus extensive presentations of home accents, accessories, wall art, lighting and more. Extending those resources are its exclusive garden/outdoor/casual furnishings as well as holiday, floral, fine linens and tabletop collections. Plus, during the January and July Markets, there are exclusive HD Home and High Design juried collections of home furnishings and accessories.

Who can shop here? Who can’t? AmericasMart is open to the trade only, which means active retailers and designers engaged in the resale of product to consumers and clients through recognized business entities. Design firm staff and set production staff or stylists for the film and tv industries are welcome, as well. Business credentials (such as a business license and resale tax certificate) must be presented to register and gain admittance. Employees of design firms and film/television studios must have proof of current employment (such as a business card and/or company ID badge) and a copy of a resale tax or tax exempt certificate. Those planning a first visit are strongly advised to register at at least 24 hours prior to arrival.

Do I have to get an admission badge every time I visit? To ensure only qualified buyers enter the facility, every visitor must show a photo ID at the registration desk and obtain an admission badge for each visit.

Where do I park? Convenient on-site parking is available in the AmericasMart Building 2 garage on Spring Street, and in lots located close to the AmericasMart campus.

OK, now that I’ve visited, how do I buy something? Do all the design showrooms have minimum orders? Or as a designer, can I buy one of something? Each of the showrooms within AmericasMart is an independent business and maintains its own buying terms and conditions. Since buyers will need to set up accounts with each business separately, they should carry their credentials with them throughout the market center. Most of the showrooms are accustomed to working with the design community and allow the purchase of one item. If a ‘minimum’ exists, it is typically a nominal dollar amount for an opening order. Many showrooms forgo minimums after the initial opening order minimum is met. Some showrooms have no minimums at all. The showroom managers welcome business from designers and are more than happy to answer designers’ questions and help them get acclimated. The goal for all of the vendors at AmericasMart is to build lasting and supportive relationships with the design community.

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