Green picks for indie retailers

Already wondering what’s going to be under that wrapping paper this December? The odds are going up that your present will be either eco-friendly or made by a small manufacturer — especially if it came from an independent shop.

At least, those are the trends showing up at this year’s San Francisco International Gift Fair, according to Wendy Tonkin, president of management company Western Exhibitors Inc.

The show opens this weekend at Moscone Center in San Francisco and runs through Wednesday. Attendance is limited to shopkeepers and other retailers, who will be placing orders for products to appear in their stores from Halloween through Christmas.

“We’re really seeing many new, smaller companies going into the business. What they are doing is offering things to the independent retailers that are different than what they can get in the stores,” Tonkin said.

Not that these manufacturers, wholesalers and importers would mind selling to the big players, who Tonkin said attend the shows to check for trends. Jay Cowan, CEO of new exhibitor Scents of Japan, said he wants to catch the nose of major “alternative” grocery chains.

Coming to the show is a “no-brainer,” said Cowan, whose company is based in San Francisco, and who also operates the Japan Incense shop on Chestnut Street. “We want to be able to sell our incense products across the country. We’re the exclusive importer for over 12 Japanese companies. That’s going to give us a terrific edge.”

There will be more than 2,000 booths representing 1,317 companies at the show, and some 18,000 attendees are expected — roughly the same as previous years, Tonkin said. The vast majority of attendees come from local shops.

Aside from the traditional gift categories, such as clothing or tableware, the exhibit has added “green” as a product category. San Francisco and Peninsula exhibitors in the field include herbal dog shampoo company Juno’s Garden, stationary companies Paper Russells and Paper*Ink Studio, and vintage-fabric dog clothing company Green Dog Designs.

Tonkin credits improvement in overseas manufacturing techniques with some of the increase in small gift companies.

“Before, you had to be one of the real big stores to have things manufactured overseas,” she said.

New Peninsula, S.F. exhibitors

» Studio Ann Rea

» Gatogi

» Green Dog Designs

» Blueblood

» Scents of Japan

» Tea Gw

» Dahlias And Pears

» Select Publishing Group

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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