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HOLIDAY PRODUCTS VENDORS SAY BUYERS STICK WITH TRADITIONAL.

NEW YORK-Retailers shopping for holiday 2003 at January's gift shows were focusing on traditional looks, according to some exhibitors.

"There's been so much talk about nostalgia and tradition, and it continues to be very strong for us," said Dawn McCormack, chief executive officer of Possible Dreams, citing an interest in Victorian looks and styles. "But not that sickly sweet, satiny pink version of Victorian," she said. "This is more like the original, antique Victorian. People were interested in deep reds, burgundy and reproductions of actual Victorian pieces."

"People are definitely nostalgic for the Christmases of their youth," agreed Clark Gulliford, director of corporate and national sales for Christopher Radko.

"The retro look is very in," said Richard Adler of Kurt Adler Designs, adding that to that end, the company expanded its popular Early Years Collection of its archived styles and colors.

Maura Junius, marketing manager for Enesco Home, also noticed that there wasn't the "glamour" present this year that there was a couple of seasons ago. "There was more of a charming and homey feel," she said.

As far as holiday products were concerned in the Enesco showrooms, "a home run was Jim Shore," said Junius. The self-taught artist introduced a holiday collection last year with his Santa Claus line, which features an abstract concept of the Russian folk art look. "Those performed well last year," said Junius, adding that Shore came to this year's show with a snowman collection introduction.

"Retailers who bought Jim's line last year bought more of that line this year and also purchased the new collection," said Junius.

Enesco also introduced a nativity scene by Shore with an American folklore feel to it, with such touches as a quilting effect on some of the pieces and with the story of the nativity told on the robes of the figures.

There was also strong support for Mary Engelbreit's Let It Snow collection. "That was moving nicely as a collection," said Junius. "I think retailers feel they need to buy the whole collection to make a statement."

Another popular pick from Enesco was Julie Ueland's gingerbread line, according to Junius.

According to Christopher Radko's Gulliford, the company's core line of glass ornaments performed very well. "With a return to more traditional styles, the core line had a lot to offer," he said. "Shiny-Brite was favored for its mid-20th-century retro style."

On the other side of the coin, fun and whimsical holiday items were also popular in some exhibitors' showrooms. Possible Dreams' McCormack said she did brisk business in non-traditional holiday items with bright colors, unexpected silhouettes and youthful shapes.

"We have a series of angels that have watermelon bodies and banana wings, or jalapeno bodies and horseshoe wings. They're just fun," she said. "People want something with a lighthearted approach; they're ready for something that will bring a giggle. We had a lot of success with anything that was humorous."

According to Adler, licensed holiday items, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Spider-Man, X-Men and the Simpsons, continued to be strong performers for holiday 2002. Among the introductions that received a positive response from buyers at the January shows was the company's bubble-blowing SpongeBob ornament, which can be freestanding or hung on a tree.

Among the company's newer product lines, Christopher Radko's Christmas jewelry "sold extremely well," said Gulliford.
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Comment:HOLIDAY PRODUCTS VENDORS SAY BUYERS STICK WITH TRADITIONAL.
Author:Webb, Carla; Goldbogen, Jessica
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 3, 2003
Words:550
Previous Article:THE WHOLE STORY; MORE MANUFACTURERS ARE ROLLING OUT ACCESSORIES AT THE SAME TIME AS PATTERN INTRODUCTIONS.
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