Today Jim Martin is here to give you some insight on the biggest gift fair in the country;
I think the New York Gift Fair is the only remaining international gift show. In our last show there, in January 2012, we opened new accounts with customers in Ireland; we opened new account with customers in Japan. I just think that the attendance, the quality of the retailers, and the quality of the exhibitors is the best of all the shows.
It starts August 19th, and what’s different about it this year is that they’ve cut it down to four days – it used to be a five-day show. Which is great for everybody – the exhibitors, the attendees – but I think it’s going to make those days really action-packed. I think it’s going to be great; it’s going to be exciting.
Roughly, how many exhibitors are there for the show each year?
It’s only temporary exhibitors, whereas the Atlanta Gift Show is a combination of permanent showrooms and temporary exhibitors. I don’t know the exact number, but I would guess it’s close to four or five thousand temporary exhibitors. One of the better parts of the New York Gift Fair is they have international exhibitors as well, and they set up different sections for specific countries. It’s fun for the other exhibitors to go and take a look at what’s going on in other parts of the world.
How are exhibitors set up?
The New York Gift Fair is primarily at the Javits Center out on the west side, but the show is sold out from an exhibitor standpoint so they have overflow out on the piers of the West River. They have buses that run back and forth from the Javits Center out to the piers, and new companies have to put their time in. You might be out at the piers exhibiting for a few years, and then as spots open up in the Javits Center, you can get moved in. We’re fortunate to be in the Javits right now. Our booth is 8639.
What is the Javits Center like at the show?
Beyond all of the glamorous parts of it, it’s also probably the least glamorous show in terms of aesthetics. The Javits Center is this giant monolithic concrete building. The show is kind of dark and cavernous as opposed to the Atlanta Gift Show which is all big open modern buildings. But it’s cool, because it’s very New York – it’s very compressed, stuffed full of people and exhibitors. It feels a lot like the city itself. There is this great energy that’s there because it’s so compressed, which is exciting.
What is transportation typically like at the show?
The show has bus lines that run all over the city and will pick you up from anywhere because again, just like the rest of New York, there’s no parking. Traffic is just nonstop, so there’s buses that run continually throughout the city picking people up and dropping people off. It almost doesn’t matter where you stay; it’s easy to get to the show and get back from the show. Classic New York – I’ll catch the first bus over to the show usually around 7 in the morning and it takes ten minutes to get to there. At night when the show ends at 6, the buses are running during rush hour, so the same trip takes an hour and twenty minutes to get back. And you’re only going less than two miles! Every time we’ve been there it’s either been incredibly hot or horrifically cold, so the buses are kind of nice. But you definitely experience the New York traffic.
Where do you typically stay during the gift fair?
We stay over near Bryant Park. I’ve been going to New York for probably 25 years and just the way the city has transitioned – Bryant Park, when I first started going, it was a classic shooting gallery. It was just infested with drug dealers and you would walk by and there would be people standing all around the perimeter of the park selling drugs. They would be saying it under their breath, reciting the menu of things they were selling. And inside the park – you didn’t go inside the park. Now 20 years later, it’s this amazingly beautiful park. They have movies in the park at night for families, there’s a carousel and it’s just fantastic. They’ve really revived the area.
What is your favorite thing to do while you’re in the city?
One of our favorite things to do is to just go down into the Village and walk. If you’ve never been to New York, that’s absolutely something you should do. Before I went to New York, I just assumed that these things were very far apart, but because everything’s so compressed they’re all right on top of each other. Little Italy is just a couple square blocks, and then you cross the street and you’re in Chinatown and that’s a couple more blocks from the East Village. People who haven’t gone before are almost afraid to go because they don’t know where to stay and they don’t know what to do. I think it’s one of the easiest cities to get around in. It’s small and compact and laid out in a grid form, and as long as you go where you should go I think you’re completely safe. It’s just not a city to go where you shouldn’t go, but it’s not too hard to figure out. I just love to get out and walk.
We will be out at the show on August 19th and as always if you are in the area we would love to see you!