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Shopping the Marts: a non-Disney resort trip report

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The next several days' entries will detail my trip to the Atlanta Gift Mart, the largest show of its kind in the US. (Probably the largest in the world, but I haven't done the research to support that claim.)

This trip is all about Disney and non-Disney merchandise and NOTHING to do at all with Disney theme parks, so you can stop reading right now if you really don't care what new Disney sculptures will show up at your local collectibles store next year.

Still here? I'll try to keep the non-Disney stuff to a minimum, and I'm only going to complain briefly about how much I dislike my hotel arrangements. Suffice it to say that I now believe it should be a felony to advertise something as being "minutes away" or "steps away" from something else when the number of minutes or steps exceeds 15. Unfortunately, when you wait until the last minute to book a hotel room AND you try to stay within the chain at which you have status, your options are limited. The good news is that my hour-long commute each way will give me lots of time to pore over the new catalogues, and it looks like there is a lot of new Disney merchandise out there.

Let briefly describe the Mart experience for those who have never attended one. Imagine a 23-story office-type building. Now imagine an 18-stoy building right next door, and a 15-story building beyond that. NOW imagine that these three buildings are linked by a series of sky bridges. This is the physical environ of the Atlanta Mart. (Here's a map of the campus) Ignore the floors that are devoted to office space, lobbies and parking and you are left with 45 floors of showrooms.

There are manufacturer showrooms and rep group showrooms, and in many, many cases the same product can be found in at least two places. Some of these showrooms are the size of a large Hallmark store. "Walking the mart" takes days, and that's only if you don't stop and smell the (usually silk) roses along the way.

It's not like you can walk in and say "take me to your Disney merchandise." I can personally skip the floors of floor rugs and bridal gowns, but beyond that it does not pay to rush too quickly through the showrooms because you never know what you're going to find. If I had taken the Mart guide's word that a specific floor was all Garden merchandise last year I would have completely missed the booth where the Disney Polliwoggs were being displayed.

My approach is to start on the top floor and work my way down, and in the limited time I had this afternoon I covered just a few floors of building 2, the main "gift and collectibles" building. I didn't find very much Disney today (most of that will come later in the week when I have my appointments with the larger vendors), but here were the highlights:

Scene Weaver introduced two styles of Disney fleece throws last January, and has expanded the license into woven throws, pillows and wall hangings with Classic Mickey, Cinderella, Snow White and Bambi images. (Don't bother following the link above; none of the new or old Disney product is on their Web site).

CR Gibson is expanding their line of baby albums and paper goods. I think they've added a second design (or at least, it's not one I remember and it's not yet shown on their Web site) and a few new products. I have to say, they've actually introduced a product format I've never seen before - a "Medical History" book for baby...

Design Ideas is expanding their Disney Gel Gems line, and the new Nemo designs are super cute for a kid's bathroom. I think the new styles were introduced at Walt Disney World a few months ago, but now independent retailers will carry them. (Again, no photos on the official Web site)

And... that's all for tonight, except for a postcard I received in the mail yesterday announcing that Enesco is the new home of Robert Olszewski. I don't know if they are going to have just his non-Disney Gallery of Light items, or if Enesco will leverage their existing relationship with Disney to resurrect the Story-Time collection. And since my Enesco appointment is not until tomorrow night, you'll just have to wait to find out too.

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