Trade Show News

October 26, 2020 •
Survive and Succeed: Adapting while remaining hopeful

{Sponsored} As soon as the region opened back up following COVID-19-based shutdowns, Alabama native Christie Howell opened a third location of her gift shop, Wrapsody. The small chain focuses on clothing, shoes, candles and jewelry and also sells puzzles, paint-by-number kits, stationery and notebooks. Their Greek Boutique is popular as well; within that section of the store, they create and sell sorority-themed merchandise for 18 different sororities.

The Hoover, Trussville and Auburn, Alabama, shops fared better than Howell expected during the pandemic, and the adaptations the Wrapsody team made to serve their customers certainly panned out. Curbside pick-up remains popular, Wrapsody grand openingalong with new mask merchandise, no-touch keyrings, plus additional stock in puzzles and paint kits. They’ve also upped the amount of loungewear they carry in order to accommodate comfort at home.

Conversations are different, now, with shoppers spending about half the time in the store as before the pandemic — down to 15 minutes instead of 30, in most cases. Being able to capture the imaginations of the shoppers faster than usual is important to the continued success of the three Wrapsody locations. The capacity is also reduced to half of normal, and sanitizer dispensers are scattered throughout the shops. While they’re no longer offering free local delivery, the online shop is still doing well.

Pink Picasso paint-by-numbers kit
Pink Picasso paint-by-numbers kit

Puzzles have always been a favorite of the shops’ clientele but have increased in popularity in 2020, and Howell is excited to search for another puzzle vendor at Atlanta Market in January to complement the True South puzzle line Wrapsody already carries. True South puzzles are carried in the Tango showroom, along with the Pink Picasso paint-by-number kits the shop sells. Another favorite showroom of Howell’s is Daniel Richards, where she always has good luck with stationery and notepads.


At Atlanta Market, Howell visits existing vendors first prior to market open, to ensure that reorders are covered. Next, she spends two entire days visiting the Temporaries to scout for new vendors and products. “It’s our favorite part,” Howell said. Finally, she visits the gift floors to shop for other new items, an important step since vendors in showrooms can change fairly regularly.

Howell is hopeful about the future and potential return to normalcy at Atlanta Market this January. “It’s the most important show we attend,” Howell said. “We find the vendors and new stuff we can’t find anywhere else. (It’s a) one-stop-shop for us. So it’s important for our business and customers for us to attend.”


True South puzzles
True South puzzles

Howell believes that despite challenges, brick and mortar is equipped to survive and succeed post-pandemic. “If you made it through the last 5-6 months (March through August 2020), then you can make it through anything,” Howell said. As trade shows slide back into normalcy, the industry envisions retail shoppers also returning to stores in-person to look for the latest in gifts and paper.

Wrapsody will continue to keep much of what has made business successful since March in place for the foreseeable future. This includes the new PPE items as well as boredom-reducing items such as puzzles. The puzzles have always been popular around the holidays as a family activity, but the uptick in sales of the puzzle line-up means that new puzzle lines Howell will search for Atlanta Market are all the more important.


Atlanta Market was the first industry show to reopen its doors in August, and will welcome retailers again this January with proper health and safety protocols in place. As a complement to physical markets, digital tools are available to keep commerce flowing. The new website features an enhanced Exhibitor Directory with product-level detail and a link to Catalog ConneXion, where you can browse exhibitor catalogs online and immediately place requests for more information. You can also shop anytime and expand your assortment with hundreds of brands on ShopZio by IMC_di. This interim tool will roll into the new, more robust Juniper MKT platform in 2021.

© 2020 AmericasMart Atlanta

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