written by Lee Wiser McIntosh
Spring brings a sense of hopefulness. The nascent buds are placed, fresh foliage is sprouting and thankfully it brought with it some in-person jewelry trade shows.
The vibe at the Atlanta Jewelry Show was positive and high energy amongst buyers and exhibitors alike. One comment that I heard a few times… “This is what a trade show is supposed to be like.” And believe it or not they were talking about things that normally we’d consider negative: like long lines at registration. Nope. Even that looks good through the lens of COVID-19.
The Atlanta Jewelry Show was the first live industry event of 2021 and hopefully others in the trade show sector are taking notes. They hosted over 700 stores, 100 of which were new buyers. They also had over 200 exhibiting companies with a waitlist. The show had been brilliantly restructured to collaborate with RJO and that membership increased the attendance. All this was accomplished while providing a COVID safe environment:
space to allow for physical distancing, hand sanitizers, masks, shields and an efficient and effective screening at check-in.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important for our industry to work together to prove that we can
re-connect in safe ways, and there is value in our shared commitment to events that
consistently value both safety and success equally,” said Libby Brown, Atlanta Jewelry
Show Executive Director.
RJO Chief Executive Officer Sarah Streb adds, “Face-to-face is what the jewelry industry
needs and wants, and we were happy we could provide a safe environment to do business in person. For this reason, we are thrilled to have been a part of this first-time collaboration and bringing our jewelry community together.”
The event took place March 5-7 at the Cobb Galleria Center. The work behind-the-scenes was pressurized by a reduced lead time that was interspersed with major holidays. As Judy Lince succinctly put it, “We were in a traffic jam and then we were in a race!” Let’s hope they enjoyed a victory lap or two.
I reached out to first-time and long-time buyers alike, new exhibitors and the regulars, and asked for their impressions on this unique experience and got tons of feedback.
So in case you missed it… Here you go!
EXHIBITOR: “There were a lot more people looking to buy this time at the AJS because of the joint show with RJO. I’d say that was a very smart decision – it made a lot of sense given the market situation.” Shubhangi Jain / M.S. Gems, Atlanta GA
BUYER: “This was our first time attending the Atlanta Jewelry Show and we’ll be back. We made fantastic deals and found some great new vendors. So worth the trip from NY. It was an excellent experience!” Dawn Kessaris / Diamonds by Dawn, Riverdale NJ
EXHIBITOR: “We have been thrilled with AJS. In fall 2019 we figured it would not hurt to try it. From the start (we) were pleasantly surprised with (the) professionalism yet fun vibe at the show. The buyers are very loyal and I felt that first show they were checking us out…but with every show we have seen the same friendly faces and have continued to build business in the south. The whole “southern charm” thing is alive and well in ATL. Everyone is so friendly and enjoyable to get to know.” Kimberly Collins / Kimberly Collins Colored Gems, Reno NV
BUYER: “It was pretty much a normal show… except busier than normal! Although, it was only 2 days it could’ve easily been 3 days. They always do a great job!” Jamie Kresl / Jewelry Artisans, Atlanta GA
EXHIBITOR: “Atlanta is a great place to be if your intention is to meet up with people and if you’re a retail store. I’ve been both an exhibitor and a buyer. For me, as a colored stone dealer I found that the show wasn’t necessarily a good option for us for a myriad of reasons. However having said the, the greatest benefit I found was the face-to-face opportunities to see was more important to me than the actual sales of the day. I am grateful for the people.” Yvonne Jiew / Rockstoc, Austin TX
BUYER: “The SJTA is such a a hidden gem. The team has made the show floor so beautiful and lots of fun to shop and find old and new vendors. They also were very cautious and supplied hand sanitizers and safety guidelines to follow from check-in to when you left the building” Amy Andreasen / LTS Design, Atlanta GA
EXHIBITOR: “Doing AJS was one of the best business decisions I have made in a long time, and we look forward to every show. It was extremely impressive how they navigated COVID this past year and gave retailers and vendors opportunities. I will never forget it.”
Kimberly Collins / Kimberly Collins Colored Gems, Reno NV
BUYER: “The education was off the chart. The lab diamond seminar provided extremely timely and useful information.” Dawn Kessaris / Diamonds by Dawn, Riverdale NJ
EXHIBITOR: “We had a great show as we always do! I prefer the two day show as opposed to the three day show. New customers, happy faces. AJS handled the pandemic situation in a very professional manner.” Lisa Hooper / US Pearl, Camden TN
BUYER: “One of the best show I’ve attend in years. It’s such a great place to make new friends, visit with old friends and find some great jewelry for my store. Each year the selection of vendors seems to get better and better. I love the Atlanta Jewelry Show. Looking forward to seeing everyone in October.” Nancy Dawkins, AL Jewelers Assoc.
EXHIBITOR: “I appreciated the “out of the box thinking” by Libby combining the AJS Show with the RJO Show. Times surely have changed and shows need to adapt with the changes as well. The show was very well attended and as far as I know, no one got Covid. However, it was a lot of work for two days.”
Brenda Smith / Brenda Smith Jewelry, Atlanta GA
EXHIBITOR: “I think the SJTA-Atlanta Jewelry Show should be used as a model for jewelry shows. You can always Count on them to bring newness and fresh ideas to the show experience on all fronts. They create an exciting environment for buyers and sellers that combines education, fun, and hospitality. Their talented and caring team is what sets them apart.” Kathy Grenier / Imperial Pearl, Atlanta GA
So it’s a wrap until October! A lot could happen between now and then because the only constant is change, but I feel confident that this trade show will anticipate those changes and deliver another great show.