The night before I travel I always sleep lightly; nerves awoke me before my alarm went off at five o’clock. The flight to Atlanta is a simple one, straight through and I am able to make up for lost sleep along the way. When we arrived, I was rested and ready for the first day at market; except that I was ravenous! As we made our way to the Marta station in the airport, I insisted that we stop and eat at this southern style breakfast buffet in the airport food court rotunda; you know the type with grits, sausage links and biscuits. As we stood in line, military troops dressed in fatigues passes through the rotunda; applause and gleeful whoops erupted in celebration and thanks to the troops until all had passed by.
Living in a city with limited public transportation, it is always a mystery using the Marta. Thank goodness there are helpers standing right there to guide the clueless; I would probably still be standing outside of the Marta gate looking for a place to swipe my card unless that nice woman had not shouted down to me, “JUST TAP THE TICKET ON THE CIRCLE!” I can only imagine what she was saying to herself.
We stayed in the Marriott Marquis, and I am sure that we have stayed there before, but it has been renovated since that stay. It really was a shock when we walked in to the lobby. It looked like we were in the belly of the beast, like we were inside of a GIANT with 46 floors of a rib cage and the bank of elevators were the internal view of a spinal cord. Electronica dance music pulsed throughout the lobby and up several floors while the young staff were moving their heads to the beat; I was glad that when our room door was shut, it blocked out the noise. There was a two-story, at least, silver sail to mark the hotel bar; perhaps it was once sailed by Jonah or Captain Ahab and was now trapped in the belly of the beast…
When we registered at the Market we were given lanyards for our badges. A company had paid for the advertising rights on the lanyards, so we got to wear our name badges surrounded by the words: BUCKYBALLS. I can not tell you how many strange looks we received, like we intended to wear BUCKYBALLS around our necks. On the last day of Market we finally found a vendor selling the things, and they are a magnetic office desk toy.
As we started to walk through the halls we noticed that vendors had a lot of new products. This was exciting because for the past several years vendors had stayed with their best sellers, not putting anything on the line with new products; we are hopeful that this is a sign that the economy is on the mend. We were able to have conversations with company owners and designers, who were also excited to present their new products. We heard over and again that companies had a great year, and they were excited about their new colors, designs and products. We placed several orders, which we never do; we typically go back to the hotel room and have a lengthy debate over which products each one of us likes best, and then compromise by giving each other “this for that”. And let me tell you, if one of those debated products is a flop–it is never forgotten! This Market trip my mother jokingly pointed out one of my flops, “Oh, look…”
Every year we end up passing by this showroom that is filled beyond belief with Easter eggs, I mean FILLED BEYOND BELIEF! I have never seen anyone in the showroom buying eggs, but it does make one stop and gawk at the massiveness. There are signs up all over the market stating that photos are not allowed. My mother has always wanted to take pictures of this showroom, because words simply just do not do it justice. This year she said that she was going in to ask if she could take a picture. I said that while she went in to ask, I was going to text my sister and see if she had gone in for her eye surgery. I turned around and OH NO! My mother had an order sheet and was making an order! I snapped an illegal photo and attached it to a text to my sister saying that our mother had lost her mind and was ordering Austrian eggs. When my mother came out of the showroom, she said that she heard the click of the camera on my phone and tried not to laugh as she was writing her fake order. Phew! Actually, I wish that I had a video from later in the day when we walked into this one Christmas showroom and my mother broke out singing to the Mama Mia song that was playing.
We look forward to the first night of Market because we wearily make our way to the Indian food restaurant called Havali that is across the street; I accidentally kept calling it Havarti. We found this place the first year we came to Atlanta, and I swear we have seen the same waiter every year. I got a Kingfisher beer, my mom got the largest glass of wine I have ever seen; that is until Friday evening at Market when a showroom was handing out even larger and more dangerous plastic cups of wine to try to liquor you up to spend your money. The Indian food is always delicious. The wait staff, which is all male, shouts at one another constantly in their native language. I believe that we got back to our room around seven o’clock, but it felt like midnight.
As the days went by, more and more buyers arrived; they must have registered at another station because it seemed like we were the only ones wearing BUCKYBALLS lanyards. An odd but nice Asian woman who sold silk birds and was wearing a pair of red horns on a headband gave us some clip-on feathery jeweled brooches and we clipped them on over BUCKYBALLS.
It just amazes me that women choose to wear high heels at Market; do they not realize that they will be either standing or walking for the next eight plus hours? We got to stand in a monster long line at the Starbucks each morning before our walk to Market (where I would contemplate the poor footwear decisions of others). The last day we waited in line, we met this delightful woman who told us her story. She was originally from Egypt (but she didn’t have an accent) and was a nutritionist and personal trainer. She proudly announced some of her famous young clients, whom we had never heard of; I did ask my sister who has two young teenage daughters that knew who they were.
Saturday was our last day at Market, and it was also my birthday. I had thought during the trip that perhaps I could parlay that fact into an upgrade on the flight back home; that never panned out. Our plan for the day was to take another run through the Temporary booths, and then meet up with Maribeth, our Campania International rep, for my birthday lunch before we headed to the airport. Right away when we walked into Market we noticed lots of ladies PROUDLY wearing hats made from paper bags, but they were painted and had really cute feathers and flowers glued to them. They were being given away by a hat company, and we rushed over to get one, only to arrive just as the last one was given away. Because of that detour, we found a company that makes a different style of outdoor rugs. These rugs look like indoor rugs! We have ordered a few to see how our customers like them; they are twice the cost of the rugs that we carry now, but they are SO wonderful. This same vendor sells all different types of hammocks, one that is made from reclaimed Brazilian canvas tarp. They have also made Indiana Jones looking hats and bags. As I was making notes on the rugs, these two men walked up and asked if they could buy the samples; all note taking ceased and I had to nudge my way in to the pile of samples. As I was getting my money out to pay, my mother told the owner that it was my birthday AND HE GAVE ME THE BAG!!! I was so excited!
We then made our way to the Campania showroom to meet Maribeth for lunch. As we walked into the showroom, the CFO and the national sales manager serenaded me with Happy Birthday. Maribeth’s son picked us up downtown at the Market and drove us to the heart of Buckhead where we had an Atlanta tradition, lunch at the Atlanta Historical Society’s headquarters which is called The
Swan House. There is a restaurant and museum in the Coach house. Traditional fare is either the chicken salad or shrimp salad served in heart-shaped pastry cups, with a side of frozen fruit salad; very southern. We were surrounded by tables of ladies of all ages celebrating wedding showers and birthdays. It was so lovely!
After lunch we took a quick stop by Boxwoods and then the Atlanta Water Garden store. Maribeth’s son then drove us back downtown and dropped us right by the Marta stop, and it was back to the airport. Another successful Market trip to Atlanta completed!