For eight days each January, tens of thousands of shop owners and retail buyers descend upon John Portman’s brutalist shrine to consumerism for the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Inside the 7.2 million-square-foot downtown convention complex, buyers from 70 countries scout products for tiny boutiques and big-box chains alike. “I’m already lost,” one overwhelmed conventioneer announced in exasperation. Building 3, a concrete monolith with a dramatic atrium, contains 13 tiers of booths with merchandise ranging from artisanal candles and snarky stationery to eight-foot-tall inflatable rubber ducks.
This article originally appeared in our March 2016 issue.