I’ve just spent three fast and furious days at the America’s Mart in Atlanta, Georgia for the Fall Gift Show. “Gift” is loosely used in the retail industry to describe anything from furniture to sheets and towels to my favorite, a high heeled shoe that cradles a hairbrush (as seen above).
Twice a year, like thousands of other buyers, I travel to shows looking for the latest and greatest from the world of consumer goods. Wholesalers exhibit their goods and buyers buy them to sell to consumers like you and me. Editors from magazines come to look at the latest trends and shape their stories for the seasons to come. Sounds exciting, right? Sometimes it is, but more often than not, especially if you’re of a sustainable bent, it can be a little depressing.
If you’re like me and feel there’s entirely too much stuff in the world, attending a Gift Show will really make you a believer. When you come to these shows, the sheer amount of stuff, utterly useless stuff, is truly overwhelming.
At the America’s Mart, there are 5 million square feet of showrooms and 99% of them are filled with things you can’t imagine anyone ever wanting. And certainly not needing. Floor after floor of fake neon Christmas trees, LED polar bears, strange elfin mannequin dolls meant for I’m not sure what.
Every now and then you find the needle in the haystack, the innovative item that could make your life easier, help you be more efficient or teach you something about lessening your impact on the planet. But mostly, it’s just more of the same, more of the different, and more of the “what the…?” variety. With “more” being the operative word.
At my company, VivaTerra, as at EcoSalon, we’re all about conscious consumerism and we’re trying to help wean us all from the “more” and on to the fewer and better for longer. If we can’t make that change, those LED polar bears may be the only ones left.
Let us do some of the work for you. (And let me tell you, Atlanta in July is hard work!)
Editor’s Note: Guest contributor Susan Donaldson Ely is the Director of Merchandise at EcoSalon sister company, VivaTerra, and is a sustainability consultant working and living in the Bay Area.