Ep. 154 AmericasMart Market Tips for Retail Owners 2023
Every January, I’m excited to visit AmericasMart in Atlanta. Their annual market week is when we put in our orders for lots of the merchandise we carry in our store. It’s also an excellent opportunity to reconnect with our vendors, discover up-and-coming brands, and meet retailers from around the country.
I always learn something new at AmericasMart. Read on for some of my takeaways from this year’s market week and my market tips for retail owners.
How AmericasMart Has Changed Due to COVID-19
The first few years that I attended AmericasMart, it was packed! Every showroom, escalator, and elevator was filled with people. The pandemic changed AmericasMart in a few key ways.
In 2021 and 2022, attendance at AmericasMart was much lower and masks were required. This year masks weren’t required, so I thought the showrooms might be packed again. That wasn’t the case, though, and it still felt like there were fewer buyers than “normal.”
In pre–pandemic years, the market featured live entertainment, bartending stations, and fully catered meals provided in some showrooms. There aren’t as many of these extras available, but we still saw grab-and-go meals and snacks.
This isn’t a complaint, by the way, as I don’t expect showrooms to provide all the fancy extras. I’m just noting that things were a bit different this year.
Temporaries are vendors who rent a small, booth-style setup for market week. These are different from vendors who rent full showrooms for months or years. Within the first few days of the market, I kept hearing other buyers saying there weren’t as many temporaries as in the past.
We walked through the temporary areas and placed wholesale orders with several temporary vendors. It seemed like there were plenty of options, but since we heard that there were fewer several times, I thought I’d mention it.
With online wholesale platforms becoming more popular, it’s possible that fewer temps came to the market in person. The cost of having a booth, staying in a hotel, flying or driving to Atlanta, and hiring help for the time you’re at the market can add up.
Preparing for Market Gets Easier
Preparing for and buying at the market has gotten more manageable after a few years of practice. We ran another customer survey this year and didn’t get any new insights, which tells me that we are serving our customers well! We know what they like and what they’re looking for.
On the flip side, that can make buying more difficult in some ways. I like bringing in new items to the store, but many vendors keep their product lines consistent year to year. We’ll sometimes walk into a showroom at market and realize that we’ve placed a large order with that vendor before on sight. That’s usually a sign for us to take a break from ordering from them, then go back a year or two later when they’ve updated their lines.
I CAN Pack for 6 Days in a Carry-On
I’m really proud that I can pack for six days in a carry-on suitcase! Atlanta is cold in January, so I like having sweaters, jackets, and boots with me for AmericasMart. I end up being very strategic with my outfits and honest about what I’ll genuinely wear.
The most important thing that I pack is a pair of comfortable shoes. There is a LOT of standing and walking at AmericasMart. Sometimes I’ll feel like I’ve walked 20,000 steps, but my Fitbit says I’ve walked 8,000; that extra soreness comes from standing for hours and hours each day.
Other Details to Prep in Advance
Speaking of preparing, I work on lots of details in advance. For example, I ensure that I have the email starred for my AmericasMart badge and pack a badge carrier.
I print market cards in advance with all the information a new vendor will need from us. These cards include our EIN or tax ID number, phone number, billing address, and shipping address. I also print the Savvy Shopkeeper worksheets I use for planning at our store.
If you’re interested in using these resources, the market cards and the worksheets are available to members of Master Shopkeepers inside the Shopkeeper’s Academy. The worksheets are also included in the Savvy Shopkeeper Digital Planner, which we’ll be relaunching later this year.
Lastly, I look at all of our data and update my dashboard. And, of course, my sister Karen and I have conversations about what we’re planning to buy each year. We never want to just show up and hope for the best.
Scheduling and Navigating the Market
With six days, three large buildings, and hundreds of vendors, AmericasMart can be an overwhelming experience. I’ll share my market tips for retail owners and how we plan our time (and find our way around!) at market.
How We Spend Our Time
We’re at the market from 9 AM to 6 PM. If that sounds like a long day, it’s shorter compared to previous years! AmericasMart used to be open until 8 PM, but I’m happy it’s only open until 6 PM now. Those days were way too long.
Spending all day at market means eating there, too. Some of our vendors provide small meals, so we indulge when we can. Time is precious—especially when one appointment can take up to 3 hours!
Where We Eat
For dinner, we’ve learned to pick restaurants within walking distance AND make reservations in advance. We celebrate the end of another successful market week with a reservation at Cuts Steakhouse.
Getting Around the Market
The buildings at AmericasMart can be tough to navigate! Thankfully the staff is always friendly and helpful.
We also use the AmericasMart app, which has some handy features. The app can help you create a market plan, save favorite vendors, and direct you to the correct building and floor to find a vendor. With 20+ floors in each building, this feature is so necessary! The app is slow, but I still find it worth using.
Lastly, I do set appointments in advance with vendors. I add these appointments to my Google Calendar and include the building and floor information there, too.
Market Preparation Inside Master Shopkeepers
We do quite a bit to prepare before market season inside Master Shopkeepers! For example, we had a Market Moodboard Challenge, a 2-hour group call about attending market, and group chats for the three big markets in January (Atlanta, Dallas, and Vegas).
If You’re Going to Market, Be Sure to Snag This Free Resource
If you have never attended AmericasMart or another wholesale market, my five-part Buyer’s Guide to Attending AmericasMart will help you prepare!
The Buyer’s Guide to Attending AmericasMart is the kind of resource that I wish I’d had when I started shopkeeping. Sign up for my email newsletter to get access to it for free.
- Free resource: Buyer’s Guide to Attending AmericasMart
- Join Master Shopkeepers, the only territory-protected, community-focused mastermind for brick-and-mortar business owners
- [04:02] How AmericasMart Has Changed Due to COVID-19
- [08:57] Preparing for Market Does Get Easier
- [15:55] Scheduling and Navigating the Market
- [20:01] Market Preparation and Market Tips for Retail Owners Inside Master Shopkeepers
- [01:54] If You’re Going to Market, Be Sure to Snag This Resource
I’m curious about this market – is it primarily home decor/gifts/clothes? I run small yarn & craft shop but I’m always looking for things that can fit my customer profile that may not necessarily be “branded” for makers but it’s a LOT to fork up money to go to something that may not benefit me at all.
Hi Candice, it’s all that you mentioned. Home, Gift and Apparel. You can learn more about events and market dates for each specific type on their website: https://www.americasmart.com/ – for example, probably the biggest home and gift market week is in January. When you visit the website, click on “Markets & Events” to see a detailed list with upcoming dates.