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August, 2009

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Sept, 2009
4-6, Minnetonka, MN
9-11, Lansing
12-14, Atlanta
12-14, Dallas
13-15, Billerica, MA
13-15, Columbus
20-23, Chicago
22-24, San Francisco

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In this issue:

July Retail Sales Down As Consumers Remain Nervous

Those hoping the Federal stimulus would jump-start consumer spending were disappointed in July as retailers reported sales were down 5 percent over the same period last year (source). Figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed some good news in sectors like health and personal care and electronics but the overall total was down.

A variety of retailer categories reported sales down: Discounter Target reported that sales at stores open at least a year were down less than expected (source), but posted a 6.2% downturn from a year earlier in the quarter ended Aug. 1, while upscale Saks Inc. reported a 15.5% drop (source).

"Many families postponed the bulk of their back-to-school shopping this year, possibly waiting to take advantage of their state sales tax holiday or hoping for additional discounts," said Rosalind Wells, Chief Economist of National Retail Federation (NRF). "Hopefully, retailers’ aggressive promotions and reduced inventory levels will make for a better August and shield retailers from a disappointing season."

Featured Vendors in GiftsWholesale.Com
indicates a CAMEO EZ© web site.

Aspen Bay Candles: The best candles on the market--a result of our continual and diligent application of superior candle science. Take a moment to visit our unique high quality line of candles. Once you have experienced the superb fragrances and long burn times, we are sure you will be back again and again.

Brownlow Gifts: Brownlow produces a full line of inspirational gifts for every occasion. You will find useful and attractive home decor gifts for the kitchen, bedrooms, study and all other rooms in the house. Brownlow is well known for gourmet products, journals, gifted paper items, photo albums, photo frames, decorative sentiment plaques, a variety of stationery, many different ceramic gifts as well as a large assortment of inspirational gift books. Most products are in coordinating themes that retailers can purchase in eye-catching countertop display collections.

Don Mark Lifelike puppies & kittens that actually breathe. These adorable pets offer a real pet ownership experience without the work or expense. Perfect petzzz -------the ultimate pet. We now offer 30 breeds of puppies and kittens to choose from. Visit our web site to see our entire line of petzzz plus over 180 other unique gifts and gadgets.

Europa Home decor including glass, candleholders and candles for garden, lodge and more.

Gina B. Designs is an award-winning greeting card, stationery and gift company featuring exceptional art and design. With an array of styles, variety of products and outstanding customer service, Gina B. Designs has “something for everyone.” Online ordering is now available!

Highland Graphics: A leader in functional gift with decorative items for gift giving and kitchen. From our top selling Absorbastone coasters, to our decorative bamboo cutting boards, everything we manufacture is made in the USA. Our high quality plus competitive pricing lets our customers make higher margins. We feature licensed art, official collegiate products and have a full range of custom capabilities with low minimums.

Mud Pie: Mud Pie products are now featured in three catalogs: Mud Pie Baby, Mud Pie Gift, and Mud Pie Pet. It has always been our goal to offer innovative giftware that's affordably priced and adorably packaged.

Natural Life: Fashionable and fun treasures to share or keep! Whether you’re shopping for friends, family, baby or yourself, Natural Life has the perfect gift for you.

Peking Handicraft, Inc. is a global manufacturer and wholesaler specializing in home textiles decorative accessories and gift items. The company expertise in sourcing, manufacturing and brand development are second to none. Peking’s variety of products consists of renowned designer collections as well as exciting designs from their in-house design studio. Both are trend right and of exceptional quality and value. With over three decades in the home textiles and gift arena, Peking is proven to be a company that you can trust today and in the future.

Regal Art & Gift: Offering unique & colorful Metal Garden Décor, Home Décor and Gifts. Garden items include: 3-D Garden Décor, Garden Stakes, Wind Chimes and Welcome Signs. Home items include: Wall Art, Wall Hooks, Candleholders, Ornaments, Boxes and Photo Frames. Popular themes include: Garden Bugs, Birds, Frogs, Tropical, Coastal, Fish, Suns & Celestial, Southwest, Western, Crosses, Americana, Country, Halloween, Harvest & Holiday

Sample House Take a look at our unique collection of original design gift bags, tissue paper and home to the 2-second wrap. We have a complete selection of Take-Out-Cartons solids and prints, tissue, bags, wraphia and more.

Spring Street is proud to offer the finest assortment of personal, home, and office accessories. Our extensive product lines are all theme oriented, from baby to bride and beyond. All of our gift items are hand epoxy enameled and adorned with faux jewel encrusted motifs. Many of our designs are inspired from the famed Soho district of New York City where the very real Spring Street is located.

Sunset Vista Designs: From the same creative team that brought you Care and Wonder Company; We're back with a fresh new line of the latest in home and garden decor.

Wellspring: Stationery products that help keep you organized by giving you fashion with function--wherever you are in your home, office, or on the go. Includes: Pencil Pads®, Auto Notes, Flip Notes, Wiggle Pens, note cards, note pads, and recipe books.

Under Stella's Umbrella Chosen "Industry Rising Star"
by Gifts & Decorative Accessories Magazine

Atlanta, Ga. August 20, 2009- Under Stella's Umbrella was awarded "Industry Rising Star" by Gift and Decorative Accessories Magazine at a ceremony on Sunday, August 16, 2009 in New York City. In an industry that encourages entrepreneurial enterprise, the Industry Rising Star award is presented a new vendor, in business three years or less, that has made an impact with innovative products, fresh ideas and good business sense that carries them forward. The 2009 Industry Rising Star award was presented to Under Stella's Umbrella of Atlanta.

Fine Whines, one of the company's six brands, was earlier selected for a High Design award at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, which led to expansion into other brands.

Although the corporate name is new this year, the corporate presence is not, with its six brands: Fine Whines, Bellemonde, Pewter-a-Peel/Noble Initials, Toppers, Mi-Pops and the Gerard Puvis Collection. Under Stella's Umbrella continues to grow by drawing customers in with a clever and diverse range of products they know they can sell, but more than that Stella Martin draws them in with her boundless energy, warmth of personality and joy in what she does. Stella Martin, CEO (Clever, Enthusiastic, Opinionated) was on hand to accept the award at the ceremony which was held in conjunction with the New York Gift Show.

Websites for Under Stella's Umbrella, Fine Whines and Bellemonde were developed by OmegaNet, Inc., publishers of this newsletter. (more)

To Discount or Not to Discount...
Being Smart About Price Cutting

A war is raging right now among retailers over discounting. Cutting prices has been seen by many as the only way to move merchandise during tight economic times, but others are alarmed that the trend may be training consumers to only buy when there's a sale.

Yet many major retailers are doing it. Recently the following was observed during Back-To-School season in Florida (source):

  • Old Navy offered 20 percent off any online purchase over $100.
  • Sears gave 50 percent off school uniforms and backpacks, with other discounts on items such as underwear and socks for children.
  • Speaking of uniforms, the French Toast-brand school uniform company dropped prices online so an 11-piece uniform wardrobe costs about $107. Normally, the company sells its stock in Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory and other locations.
  • Macy's joined the back-to-school discount parade with up to 50 percent off on children's clothing and a buy-two-get-one-free deal on uniforms.
  • Staples had 1-cent notebooks, $1 bricks of printer paper and $5 coupons on anything else in the store.
  • Office Depot gave a free backpack with any $10 in-store purchase and a free Papa John's pizza for some orders.

Meanwhile, in the face of third quarter losses, Abercrombie and Fitch planned its own price cuts. "Consumer spending patterns domestically continue to be dictated by cost and value propositions, and this is clearly a headwind for our premium brands," Chief Executive Michael Jeffries said (source).

"Discounting stinks," says Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork Cleveland Advertising, a firm that specializes in helping stalled companies rekindle growth (source). "Discounting destroys brand equity, hamstrings investment in innovation, and zaps profitability for companies and their stakeholders," If you must discount, do so wisely, McKee says:

  1. Discount briefly. Discounting is addictive, but it can drive your perceived value down.
  2. Discount credibly. Make the reason for the discount obvious to the customer so they don't see it as an act of desperation.
  3. Discount creatively. The solution is not always to hang a 30% off tag on an item, but to add value in another area or create a new price category with a shift to different products.

Quick Industry News


Sea Island Notes Trends During Summer Atlanta Show

Sea Island Imports, Inc. reports that the scarf craze continues very strong, proving the often-heard idea that women will continue to spend small amounts on themselves and their friends when times are tight. Top sellers are our unusual patterned wool and silk pashminas that wholesale for under $15 and our solid silk scarves that are inexpensive but have a very high perceived value.

Among other products, classic blue and white, always a safe category, came on strong in Atlanta in July, bolstered by the introduction of many elegant higher-end pieces. Our original wooden step stools are fresh and different and continue to sell extremely well. Dog and horse items have outstripped cats in popularity after many years of cat dominance.


New Cards Key on Pets and Nostalgia

Above are examples of the new pet and nostalgia cards

The Greeting Place has added new designs to the company's "Talk to the Paw" pet line and "Go Girl" nostalgia line. The nostalgia trend continues to be popular. In difficult times people find comfort reflecting on "the good old days". Nostalgia mixed with a little humor is a popular combination of fun and relief that many people need right now. Giftbeat’s most popular companies in several catagories reflect this also .

"We are seeing a surge of inactive accounts come back for Go Girl products," says Michael Rance of The Greeting Place. "Because of the popular combination of female, humor, baby boomer, and price point, and we are sure other companies with similar focuses are experiencing the same."

Consumers are spending money on children and pets, in many cases instead of themselves. There is no human product that is not available for pets as well it seems, and price does not seem to be an issue. With more and more interaction being done electronically the void of nurturing and connecting is being filled more and more with pets instead of people. Case in point, even a line of fake pets that actually appear to breathe is very popular, and there isn’t that big college bill or wedding bill in the future. "Pet products will continue to grow, I think, we all need a little love sometimes," Rance said.

Eco-Friendly Water Bottles Offered by Don Mark

Don Mark has a line of refillable, reusable bottles which encourage you to "Go Green" to protect you and your environment. These bottles enable you to refill, reuse and reduce our landfills. Each bottle comes with dual, leak resistant caps, one for drinking, the other wide mouth to insert ice cubes and make hand cleaning easier. Also comes with handy caribineer clip. Our lightweight bottle weighs less than 6 ounces and holds 24 ounces of your favorite cool or cold drink (not for hot liquids). Many different styles, colors and patterns to choose from. Measures 10" tall and 2.5" wide to fit most auto drink holders. Comes with attractive "Go Green" hangtag.

Messenger Collection Celebrates 10 Years

Featured is the Mother (Lavender Shoe) Paisley Messenger.

The Messengers Collection from About Face Designs celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary in 2009. The collection has grown in size and popularity each year due to new designs, creative enhancements and the continued strength of sentiment gifts. Each Messenger is a unique hand molded glass design accented with pure 24 karat gold and packaged in a satin-lined silk box with an original poem inside the lid. Each poem is an original verse conveying a "message" which is sentimental, inspiring and heartfelt.

Brand new for summer 2009, About Face Designs introduces the Messengers' "Paisley Collection" consisting of the top 20 designs and sentiments from the past all featuring new contemporary paisley patterned silk boxes. The Paisley Collection is sure to be a favorite of current Messengers enthusiasts as well as appealing to many new consumers with the new "fashioned forward" designs.

Paisley Messengers retail for $14.00

New Website Features "Philosopots®"

PHILOSOPOTS®, "little pots for thought" are flower pots with sayings on them. The company's new website makes ordering a breeze. Over 20 new quotes have recently been added to the already extensive line. Football Fans/Team pots are now available, as are recently added Holiday quotes and designs.

DecoGLOW debuts unique Monogram Candles: the SALES POWER of initials WITHOUT the typical inventory burden

DecoGLOW's Monogram Candles include embossed, frosted glass, polka dot, stiped and fluted candles

San Diego, Ca. - Global Product Resources, Inc. (GPR), the manufacturer of the new popular decorative candles known as DecoGLOW, introduces Monogram, a new collection of monogrammed fashion wax candles, and EverLast LED Lanterns, with the unique feature of packaging all of the letters of the alphabet in each box.

Monograms are very popular in the industry and offer a great way to make gift giving personal. Truly unique, each DecoGLOW Monogram Candle encourages the consumer to PERSONALIZE IT since each candle comes complete with a full set of 26 custom printed (A to Z) alphabet decals. Once in place, the sophisticated and elegant initial decal looks and feels like a permanent part of the candle. This eliminates typical retailer complaints about inventory burdens associated with having enough of the letters each consumer wants. (more)

Brownlow Introduces New "Fireside Wassail"

FT.WORTH, TX (May 1, 2009) -New for Christmas 2009 Brownlow presents "Fireside Wassail" featuring art by Susan Winget. Cute "Christmas Stockings" are filled with our new quick and easy instant wassail that tastes just like our original brewed wassail

Each stocking makes a gallon of wassail when mixed with heated apple juice. With this new easy instant wassail you can make just one cup at a time. The new collection contains four stocking designs to choose from and each retails for $5.99. (more)

Animal Lovers Flip Over New Stationery Line By Fiddler's Elbow

July 2009 - Middle Falls, NY - Fiddler's Elbow adds a decorative collection of Boxed Note Cards to their diverse line of pet lover gifts. Adorned with beautiful illustrations of dogs, cats and horses, these special cards come packaged with 10 notes and 10 envelopes in a linen box. Available in 38 original copyright designs exclusive to Fiddler's Elbow. A perfect way to send an invitation or personal note to a fellow pet lover. Suggested retail $14.99.

"100% USA made these note cards combine beautiful illustrations with a practical gift that animal lovers will find hard to resist." says Judy Pate, VP Sales & Marketing. Fiddler's Elbow has been designing and manufacturing American made, hand printed gifts in their Middle Falls, NY factory for over 36 years. John Gunther, President is a vital part of the daily operations, management and forward vision.

Brownlow Announces a New "Winter Wonderland" Gourmet Collection

FT.WORTH, TX (May 1, 2009) - New for Fall/Christmas 2009, Brownlow introduces a new Christmas Gourmet Cookie and Cocoa Collection "Winter Wonderland" featuring the art of Susan Winget. These charming cookie jar and mug shaped packages are filled with tasty treats that are sure to be enjoyed by everyone!

This new "Winter Wonderland" collection includes A Cup of Christmas Cocoa in 3 delicious flavors: Chocolate Royale, Mint Chocolate and White Chocolate. Also included are A Jar of Christmas Cookies, 3 of our best-selling cookie mixes: Snickerdoodle, Peppermint Snap and our classic Sugar Cookie. These items retail from $5.99 - $7.99. (more)

Mark Roberts Expands Limited Edition Christmas Collectibles

Mark-Roberts-designed crystal candleholders

Mark Roberts, "The King of Christmas" continues to add to his Limited Edition Line of Santas, Fairies, and Elves. New for 2009 are Limited Edition collectibles that will be on the top of the collector’s wish lists.

Mark Roberts, the Home Accessory designer, has recently introduced a line of timely and timeless home accessories, such as lamps, vases, picture frames, candleholders, urns, platters, ornate boxes, bookends, clocks, permanent botanical arrangements, and soft goods. The Mark Roberts Home Collection offers a selection of classic accessories in a mixture of mediums, adding a touch of whimsy to each item.

The company will be showing our new designs in our showrooms, for the fall shows. Showdates are Atlanta -- September 12-14, Dallas -- September 12- 14, and Las Vegas - September 14-17.

Mark Roberts is embarking on a 20 city tour this year, promoting these designs along with signing consumer’s purchases while meeting collectors. For his complete signing schedule or more information, go to