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Top five newest, hottest products that could become all the rage — or not

By Sandra Eckstein - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, July 15, 2004

For the past nine days store buyers have sifted through thousands of products at AmericasMart. And more than 7,000 vendors set up products to entice them at two wholesale markets -- the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market at AmericasMart and the Gift Fair In Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Every buyer in attendance had one goal: Find the newest, hottest products. Much of what was bought at the markets, which are closed to the public, will be available at small shops and department stores in time for the holidays.

Here are five new products that could become all the rage -- or not.

OUTDOOR FURNISHINGS

After spending decades decorating their homes, Americans have turned their attention to patios and gardens.

Two unique examples of this trend: furniture made from teak tree roots, and lights and speaker systems embedded in rocks.

The teak line, called Uprooted Designs, includes tables, chairs and benches, which weather well and -- at 100 to 400 pounds -- won't blow away like typical plastic chairs and picnic tables. They retail for $750 to $10,000.

"The market for outdoor furniture has been incredible. Builders are even implementing outdoor rooms and outdoor kitchens into their designs," said Dean Luckino, past president of the Casual Furniture Retailers Association and owner of Georgia Backyard, a chain of 7 stores specializing in outdoor furniture. "There seems to be no limit to price any more. People are looking for quality."

• The lines are available at Four Seasons Teak in Sandy Springs. Call 404-252-3411 or go to www.teakroot.com.

QUIRKY HOME ACCENTS

Interior design tastes wax and wane. (Who would have thought that orange would become a hot decorating color again?)

Interior designer June Price of K.L. McCall Interiors said some of the items at this year's mart merge hot trends that are making a comeback.

"Metalwork is so popular right now, you see it everywhere," said Price. "And people love the idea of items serving two purposes, even if it's quirky, like tables that are also drums."

Something Wild Inc., based in Orlando, Fla., has a line of wrought iron and leather drum tables that range in price from $125 to $500, including mallets. The tables are not only trendy but fun, which is an important feature in today's furniture, according to interior designer Tish Mills of Harmonious Living.

"For so many years, there were rules about what you could do or couldn't do, but now we're trying to have a good time and not take ourselves so seriously," she said.

That could explain the funky mirror clips, called Mirror Images, found in the Expo Design Inc., booth. These clips, which secure mirrors to a wall, come in the shape of leaves, people, bugs, animals, dinosaurs and, satellites with wires to hold photos, mementos or tickets to upcoming events.

• Something Wild Inc, Orlando, FL, 407-855-7786. Expo Design Inc., Glen Cove, NY, www.expodesigninc.com or 516-674-1320

LOW-CARB TREATS

There's nothing new about sugar-free candy. But a sugar free candy that doesn't taste bad? Now that's new. Harbor Sweets in Salem, Mass., has a line of sugar-free dark and milk chocolate that is similar to, if not better than, the real thing.

Company spokesman Doug Burritt said the no-carb craze has helped reignite the line. Four pieces have only 2 grams of net effective carbs.

And Harbor Sweets isn't the only company experiencing this phenomenon. In a one year period ending Aug. 18, 2004, the sale of diet candy was up 95.6 percent, according to Susan Fussell, spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association.

But at $9.50 for 8 pieces and up to $67.95 for a 90-piece box, this sugar-free chocolate high doesn't come cheaply.

• Harbor Sweets, www.harborsweets.com or 1-800-234-4860.







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