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The Chicago Gift Market saw a double digit increase of gift buyers, with 50 percent of those buyers being new to the fall edition, which ran Sept. 17-19 at the Merchandise Mart. Permanent showroom representatives reported their best Fall Market in years, with some doubling their usual amount of business.

“It was the one of the best fall shows we had. It was a nice, steady pace of customers. Vendors were pleased with the size of orders for local stores plus all the out-of-territory orders we wrote. We more than doubled what we did last year, so we are very happy!” said Blanche Nastovski, principal, Sarm & Nastovski.

Buyers who focused on finding a new market and unique products drove the buyer increase. As a result, the largest market for Handcrafted in the Midwest is expected to increase, with the addition of vendors from the Fair Trade Federation being a significant contributor to the show. The Design Centric and Emerging Designer section also grew.

The increase in new buyers and the positive direction of the Chicago Gift Market is expected to carry forward into the Winter Market, taking place Jan. 16-21.

“We will implement the next phase of our improvements for the January 2014 market, namely better-organizing and expanding categories to improve the shopping experience,” said Margaret Powers, director of sales, Chicago Gift Market.

The temporary exhibit floor will be re-merchandised to allow a straightforward shopping experience while an expanded selection of buyers’ activities is expected to draw a large crowd of new and returning buyers. Additionally, a range of buyer perks, such as affordable hotel rooms and free parking, will enhance the experience.

Permanent showrooms for the Winter Market open Jan. 16-22 while temporary exhibits will show Jan. 18-21.

The Chicago Gift Market is a quarterly wholesale tradeshow designed for store owners, retail buyers and designers.

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