Come Along with Me on a Gift Show Buying Trip!

Mary Dawson

Today is my first day off after an intense eight-day shopping spree. I would like to share with you part of what it’s like to be a small store owner in the Montrose Shopping Park.

One of the things that sets our little stores apart is that each owner has a vision of the marketplace that they are excited about – a niche. Many of us go to great lengths to find things that you won’t see anywhere else. For Mountain Rose Gifts, this involves getting on a plane and flying to Atlanta in mid-January. Reservations for this trip are made months in advance, as it is a major gift show. We never know what the weather will bring. One year it was in the 50s the whole week and we felt like we were home.

This year however we arrive on the heels of one of the biggest snowstorms Atlanta has had. It literally shut down the city. It is an all-day trip just to get there.

Yours truly with world-renowned artist, author, and designer Mary Engelbreit. See for more celeb pics.

We started the next day with breakfast at a B&B downtown. The 8:30 a.m. breakfast is like 5:30 a.m. to us. Ugh! But we need to fuel up because we will be shopping all day and into the night – until 9:00 p.m.! This trip, because of the snowstorms, some of the showrooms were open ‘til 11:00 p.m. We bundle up with coats, scarves, gloves, and boots because it is icy and freezing cold. The Atlanta Gift Mart is huge! There are three high-rise buildings, each having about 20 floors. The buildings are all connected with tunnels. You can get lost in this place!

We look forward to opening those doors and smelling what we call “the gift show smell.” It’s the smell of showrooms that sell all those scented candles that waft all the way down to the lobby. Yes! We are here and ready for the hunt!

Shopping a gift show is so much more intense than a ready-to-wear show. With clothing, you sit at a table sipping a Coke while the rep shows you the line and you take notes. With gifts and home décor, you are on your feet all day. One floor of one building can have 50 different showrooms. Some of the showrooms are so big that you need to keep your cellphone on in case you get separated. If Dale makes a left and I make a right we may never find each other again. This trip we had three shopping days in a row that went until 9:00 p.m., followed by some “normal” days. In addition to finding lots of great new loot for the store, we got to have Georgia Peach tea served from silver teapots with Mary Engelbreit and Bethany Lowe. Imagine meeting the two of these ladies together! We also met Iron Chef Cat Cora, Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman and visited some of the trendiest restaurants on the planet. We shop ‘til we drop, eat, and crash, then do it all over again the next day. If you would like to see pics of our trip please visit my blog

Hope you have enjoyed this insider’s view. Thank you for shopping the small stores of the Montrose Shopping Park.