5 Good Reasons Why You Should Follow Smart Retailer Magazine


Smart Retailer (formerly Country Business) is worthwhile following for anyone who is interested in licensing their artwork.  I’ll tell you a bit about the magazine, and then tell you why it’s important.

The magazine has been published for almost 20 years by Emmis Communications of Indianapolis, Indiana, and is the sister publication to Country Sampler, a publication used by individual giftware producers as well as mostly small country giftware companies to promote their products.

Smart Retailer is edited by Susan Wagner, in my view the person who knows the most about the country and decorative Americana market.

The publication comes out 7 times a year and has an informative and readable internet site at www.smart-retailer.com. It can also be found on Facebook at @SmartRetailerMagazineand Twitter.

But that’s getting ahead of myself and into the reasons why this is a publication – and an internet site – that should be on your list and that you should check into on a regular basis.

Here’s why I like it, and why I’ve read it for the past dozen years:

1) It covers a market that is still quite important as a major segment of retailing and retail products, especially through an area that I would guess stretches from Maine through the mid-Atlantic states and west as far as the Dakotas.

And probably a lot more, although Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana are generally thought of as the heartland of country America.

Those states certainly seem to have the most country and decorative Americana shows and stores, and the styles one can find in the vast quantity of retail products carrying such artwork are quite wide.

2) Browsing the pages of a typical Smart Retailer issue gives you an overview of styles, colors, formats and textures for this important art product niche.

That means it’s an important part of your basic research into what’s selling in retail today.

3) The field of country and decorative Americana has made stirrings of new life this past year or two.  Right after the “Great Recession” hit with full force, companies were telling me to submit such-and-such artwork, but they emphasized they wanted “no country Americana!”

Then in the next breath these same companies would ask me for roosters, farm scenes, cardinals, lodge and decorative home-oriented artwork.  Go figure!

I suspect that what they really didn’t want was what we call “naive Americana”, that is, artwork in the style of British and American art from the late 1700’s, and they didn’t want heavy checkered borders or anything that looked too old-fashioned and funky.

But they certainly did want artwork that brought with it the comfort quality of traditional country America, especially at a time when we were all so desperately in need of that comfort to help see us through all the economic uncertainty we had found ourselves in.

4) Under Susan’s guidance, each issue has articles that probe into what shoppers are looking for, who the shoppers are, where they shop, what they buy, and product and purchasing trends.  Smart lady!

For example, the current March/April 2011 issue has articles on home decor and decorating, Halloween products, textile designs, gifts, a calendar of upcoming trade shows, a website directory, a trend watch, retailer profiles, and other valuable information that may just influence your choice of subjects, colors, and potential applications for your art.

5) Each issue carries a bunch of advertising from companies big and small that market regionally or nationwide, thus providing you with potential licensees for your art.

Some of the more important companies that license artwork and that are advertising in the current issue include Leanin’ Tree, Magnet Works, Park Designs, Gallerie I and its parent company, C&F Enterprises, CWI, Victorian Heart, Nashville Wraps, and many others.

And, of course, these companies are showing products in their ads that give you a good idea of what they’re up to and where they’re heading.

Great research material for artists who want to license their work.

So consider this article my way of trying to “give a little something back” to Smart Retailerafter all those years when I learned so much in its pages.  Be sure to check it out.

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(c) Lance J. Klass.  All Rights Reserved.  This article may not be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the author. 

For information about copying all or part of this article, contact the author atart@porterfieldsfineart.com.

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