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Merchandising for Gift Sales

By Micah Cheek

Jill Foucré, Owner of Marcel’s Culinary Experience, has a tried-and-true strategy for last-minute gift sales. She has arranged the front of her store to be accessible to customers running in for a quick hostess gift or holiday item. “We do a ton of walking in and not knowing what [they’re] looking for,” says Foucré. “We have an array of products that cover an array of price points. If you come in and say, ‘I want to do something super special,’ we can cover that too.”

Marcel’s specializes in arranging little collections of two or three items arranged by theme. A food product like artisan dried pasta or a spice blend can make a nice centerpiece for some small items. “I love really great quality food products, [like] a really nice olive oil. Not so much a bottle of wine, but something I would cook with. Something you wouldn’t buy for yourself,” says Foucré. “We also have things like salt boxes – we’ll do that with a nice salt, or a mill. We have a lot of cocktail accessories, and we’ve got some really fantastic bitters that we can build into a cocktail thing.”

For folks who don’t know what they are looking for, Foucré recommends having some go-to items to recommend. “One of the things we always tell our staff is, ‘Always have three or four things in mind.’ I don’t want the staff there hemming and hawing. Because we carry a lot of local artists and food, we really try to be unique,” says Foucré. Handmade or unusual items are good suggestions, because it lowers the chance of the gift receiver getting multiples of the same gift. Handmade serveware has that individual look, and also makes itself a handy container for other items. “We carry a lot of different ceramic bowls – some of them are dipping dishes, some of them are ice cream bowl-sized – and we do tons of stuff with those. We’ll take a bowl, we’ll put in maybe a salt or herb blend and an olive oil, or something like that. Those tend to be very popular,” says Foucré. “The vessel will be part of what they bought. It they’re doing a baking thing, a glass bowl becomes part of the gift.” Bowls from ceramic companies like Carmel Ceramica can make a statement. Inspired by the beautiful gardens seen over Carmel, their porcelain Flower Garden collection has a hand-carved design and is safe for use in both dishwashers and microwaves.

Having a range of seasonal items available is an easy way to supply this need during the holiday season. “I love seasonal things. I love the things that you put away and bring out again,” says Foucré. “We generally have a very good selection of seasonal home décor things.” Even seasonal items aren’t needed, something printed with a statement shows that the consumer put some thought into what the receiver likes. “We have a lot of kitchen towels that aren’t seasonal,” says Foucré. “ellembee, they do towels with saying on them, and we sell literally hundreds of those. When you’re going to your book group and want to bring a little something, they’re great and a little irreverent.”

Candles on their own can seem like bland gifts, but a little something extra can make them special. “We sell a lot of scented candles in jars. We have them from a company called Lasco, Detroit Rose, we have a lot of different kinds that are great for hostess gifts,” says Foucré. “They can be a standalone, and we have a lot of fun matches we can sell them. Skeem [Design] sells some pretty matches in jars, we almost always will sell them.” Skeem Designs has matches in multiple colors and designs, packaged in tins and jars with different symbols and sayings on them. Some sets even have lines of poetry printed on the individual match sticks.

r. wood studio Introduces Carr’s Hill Tableware

r-wood-cottonThe new Carr’s Hill line of hand-crafted pottery was created by Rebecca Wood for r. wood studio ceramics based in Athens, Georgia. Wood’s distinguished career in fine art and beautifully crafted pottery has spanned 25 years, and this new line of multi-functional tableware comes in two neutral colors, sky and cotton, which are ideal for the minimalist aesthetic of the modern kitchen.

The versatile Carr’s Hill line includes salad and dinner plates, a sugar and creamer set, and a series of cups and mugs which range in price from $30 to $50. You can view the collection at


French Bull Debuts Holiday Collection

French BullFrench Bull debuts its first holiday collection, a natural extension of the celebratory lifestyle brand’s LIVE VIVID™ attitude. The collection comes packaged with dangling ornaments, gift tags, and are ready for gifting. The festive mix includes a Cookie Platter for Santa, a four piece dessert plate set in the brand’s cheery Dotty Tree pattern, four of their famous spreaders in a candy-cane pattern which come neatly wrapped, and a set of two nesting storage containers in a merry ornament-inspired pattern for treats and left overs.

Jackie Shapiro says, “My favorite are the candy cane spreaders because of the sparkling dangling ornament around the set of four. Since nobody remembers who brought the wine, I think our customers will make a lasting impression with whomever they celebrate the season, and they will make fantastic stocking stuffers.”

Home Collections Grow at Las Vegas Market

By Lorrie Baumann

New product introductions abounded at Las Vegas Market in all categories, offering buyers access to innovative, new products as well as best-selling resources from established industry suppliers. John M Hunt, President and CEO of America’s Backyards & Outdoor Living, which introduced its new AB Modern line in Las Vegas, stated, “We have been extremely busy and we’ve seen all the right buyers, everybody we needed to see. I have never had a launch as strong as we have had this Market. We are very pleased and it has been a great Market.”

The show experienced double-digit gains in buyer attendance and the busiest-ever opening day in its 10-year history, according to International Market Centers, which owns and produces the show. Overall attendance hit an all-time high, fueled largely by recent explosive growth in gift and home decor resources, which resulted in gains of 22 percent in gift buyer attendance and 5 percent in home decor buyer attendance.

Winter Market was extremely strong with robust traffic. Despite weather-related travel delays, people were committed to getting here and we set another Las Vegas buyer attendance record,” said Scott Eckman, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Furniture Leasing, International Market Centers (IMC). “The industry has a real sense of optimism right now. We saw major exclusive-to-our-market product introductions and countless showroom expansions. Order writing also was fast and furious – a strong indicator that 2016 is starting off on very solid footing.”

Cedar wood_stackAmong those exhibiting at the market was bambu, which was showing a new line of serving trays and boards and coasters made from reclaimed cedar wood obtained from mid-century Chinese homes that have been replaced with new construction from modern building materials. Each piece is uniquely grained and treated with a food-safe finish, and the serving trays and boards are, generally speaking, offered at a better price point than equivalent items made from bamboo, according to Jeff Delkin, bambu’s President. Suggested retail prices on the trays range from $10 to $24.

bambu_Vware_SquareUtensilsGroupbambu is also offering a line of disposable veneer ware made from certified organic bamboo sourced in China. Dinner plates come in a package of eight to retail for $12. A package of small lunch plates retails for $10, and a package of 24 little tasting plates retails for $10. The veneer ware is intended for single use, but they can be wiped clean and used again for family occasions. They’re fully compostable. For more information, visit

The home host can continue the story about valuing both the environment and the gourmet table with paper napkins from the napkins that feel like textiles. Designed in Switzerland and produced in Italy, the napkins are made from a fiber blend that is both absorbent and sturdy. The company also offers PURE LINE, a new collection of products that offer the same fabric-like feel in napkins made from 100 percent biodegradable bamboo fiber. They’re offered in 14 solid colors and six florals as well as special editions. They’re packaged for retail in a box of 20 with a sample on the box’s cover so customers can feel the texture. The box doubles as a dispenser that’s attractive enough to go right on the buffet table.

The Kitchen Line is a collection of napkins with a rustic tea towel look that will work for casual or outdoor entertaining. The napkins retail for $20 for the Classic line, $16 for the Deluxe line, $14 for the Kitchen Line and $18 for special edition designs.

The line also includes cocktail napkins and placemats in five of the brand’s preferred colors: silver gray, dark gray, cocoa, kiwi and turquoise. For more information, visit or call 800.884.9314.

Eat Drink BBQ Beek Pork Chicken towelsDesign Imports’ spring and summer collection includes a line of aprons, oven mitts, dishtowels and serveware in its Eat, Drink, BBQ line that’s perfect for the casual backyard barbecue. Towels are 100 percent cotton and a generous 18 inches by 28 inches. They’re printed with pork, chicken or beef designs and will retail for $5.99. For a look that’s just slightly more formal, the Lake House Collection is styled from soft blue, green and brown plaids, checks and solids to match the wood-shadowed waters of the family’s favorite fishing hole. It’s available now and is drawing great response, according to a company spokesperson.

Mountain View LodgeThe Mountain View Lodge Collection, also by Design Imports, is a collection of tablecloths, placemats and dishtowels that come in maroon, forest green and ivory plaids and prints that will work for both the winter holiday season and for the rest of the year as well. This is another best seller for the company and is available now. For more information, visit or call 800.344.4115.

3191Magenta is introducing the Chocolat collection by Rae Dunn this year. This collection of tea and breakfast pieces features a dark natural clay in minimalist modern shapes that include a teapot, sugar bowl and creamer, mug, cereal bowl, plates and tray/platter. The service pieces were designed by northern California ceramic artist Rae Dunn, whose utilitarian approach to designing ceramics is strongly based on the Japanese concept of wabisabi, which is about the beauty of the imperfect, incomplete or worn. She incorporates text into her work – each piece is labeled with a one-word sentiment: “SWEET.” for the sugar bowl, “NOURISH” for the cereal bowl – which is intended to lend a deeper level of meaning and point of view.

The pieces are food-safe and dishwasher-safe. For more information, visit or call 510.849.3888.

The summer 2016 Las Vegas Market runs July 31-August 4. For more information, visit

Portmeirion Group Launches New Melamine Collections

Portmeirion® Group, brings style to outdoor entertaining with the introduction of new melamine collections in best selling patterns, Botanic Garden and Sophie Conran.

Portmeirion Botanic Garden“From inception Botanic Garden was always the perfect look for outdoor entertaining. We are overjoyed to finally bring that element of outdoor entertaining to the market,” states Wendy Bryan, Corporate Vice President of Portmeirion Group USA. “Fun, fresh and truly beautiful, the melamine collections are both durable and dishwasher safe. This exciting new launch affords consumers and collectors the ability to enjoy Portmeirion design anywhere, from their dining room to their patio.”
The melamine collections feature a mix and match of motifs from Portmeirion Botanic Garden and a twist of colors of turquoise blue and yellow from Sophie Conran. Each melamine collection includes an 11-inch dinner plate, 8-inch salad plate and 7.25″-inch bowl. They are also available in sets of four and a three-piece place setting.
The Botanic Garden pattern showcases Botanic Garden Sunflower (dinner plate), Poppy (bowl), and Hydrangea (salad plate) motifs. The Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Blue and Yellow pattern is decorated with a stamped blue and yellow design in the same organic shapes as Sophie Conran porcelain dinnerware collections. Sale prices range from $7.50 to $39.99.

In addition to bringing style to outdoor living, the Melamine Collection can be enjoyed by the whole family with new children’s sets. The children’s melamine collection boasts three-piece sets of plate, bowl and two-handled cup, sale priced at $24.99 each. The available patterns are perfect for young children and toddlers, including Botanic Garden flower and a festive Spode Christmas Tree set.

For more information about the Melamine Collections, Sophie Conran, Botanic Garden or any Portmeirion Group product, visit

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