Well, that was a fast trip. On Monday, my alarm woke me at 3:30 a.m. I made my way to the Dane County airport and then a direct flight to Atlanta, Georgia. On Wednesday around 9:30 p.m., I arrived back home to Madison.
Ok, that picture is kind of a joke. Because the first thing that struck me about Atlanta was how much art there is. Even the airport is filled with art. Maybe some of this is just big-city envy; a city the size of Madison just doesn't have the corporate bodies to fund such endeavors (vs. Minneapolis with its Target and 3M, Atlanta with Coca Cola and whatever else). Still, it is rewarding to see cities committed to art work.
It is significantly cheaper, and easier, to travel to Atlanta than it is to travel to New York City. Since a buying trip doesn't particularly allow for time to take in a lot of cultural attractions (which New York certainly has more of), and since a person is going to be spending the bulk of their time in a setting such as this:
(that's 13 floors times three buildings), it is... seductive... how easy things are in Atlana. First of all, my door-to-door time itself was much shorter, which meant I could get to the actual work much faster. As soon as I arrived, people were there to help me along my way; the minute I stopped to consult a map, someone was at my side: "can I help you?" The MARTA alone (a $2.50 ride) was so much nicer than a NY taxi cab ride. That said, Georgia is a "right-to-work" state. This never meant much to me before because I was fooled by the words, which really mean more like "right-to-be-fired" to my mind now. Things are cheaper, yes, but that also means labor, and one starts to question a little more what cost comes from the savings that we experienced.
For our particular store, the Craft & Hobby show in Southern California and the New York Stationery show are still valuable trips, but I'm glad that I went to Atlanta. It will probably remain on our rotation of buying trips. I'm especially glad that I went because this year we just went to San Francisco in the spring and there were no other buying trips planned. I was a little anxious about heading into Christmas without new products. Well, I managed to fix that!
The first day of the show, I concentrated on the temporary exhibits. Atlana has both permanent showrooms that are open year-round, and temporary exhibits for special shows. Given the volume of vendors, I was anxious about managing to cover all the territory, and with good reason. The first day I was making good time and actually congratulating myself, "I've been training for this my whole life," was something along the lines of my thoughts. I did learn that hours were reduced on Wednesday so even though I planned to spend most of that day at the show, it turned out that I would make alternative plans. And a good thing too. By the end of the second day, I found myself walking aimlessly in circles, trying to find a booth number and getting totally lost. I think my brain was totally fried by that time. Still, I managed to find a range of goodies: jewelry, notecards, wrapping paper, ornaments, albums, stamps, prints, key rings... There was quite a lot to sift through, much that didn't at all suit our shop, but I was pleased with the variety of independent or fair trade artist creations. Shipping dates range from ASAP to October 1, and our first order already arrived today: Wisconsin dish towels designed by MCAD students in Minnesota, and just featured in the New York Times.
Since the showrooms closed early, I managed to grab a few hours of sightseeing on Wednesday before my flight left. I went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site - didn't tour all the buildings, but was inspired yet again by his words.
Although the sun was hot and time was short, at the same train stop was the Oakland Cemetery so I spent some time taking pictures and revisting my cemetery angel photo series.
And then I took the train to Decatur, where I found a most enjoyable shop called HomeGrown Decatur, filled with local Georgia artist works and my favorite sign of the trip:
And, because it makes a nicer story, let's just wrap things up with my locally-sourced lunch at Leon's in Decatur and leave off the rest of the hot afternoon picking up my luggage and going to the airport, going through security and being sent back because of the girl's snowglobe, waiting for a delayed flight and getting home about two hours later than I thought I would. Lunch was delicious: camembert, peach compote, pecans and arugula on a crusty French bread, in this cool and charming space.
I think it is unfortunate in our bigger cities that all we have left in our downtowns is office space and chain retail stores, that many small independent stores have been priced out of the market, just as people and neighborhoods have been displaced. I hope that our future of urban planning is a little more just and mindful. I was thankful for the opportunity to hunt down some of indie Georgia since I had a feeling it would be hard to find in downtown Atlanta.