Leon & Lulu Wanted and Wild pillow

Buyer’s Corner: Leon & Lulu By Jess Schmidt

{Sponsored} With a fine dining restaurant, card shop and 15,000 square feet of shopping inside a vintage roller rink and movie theater, Leon & Lulu in metro Detroit is a destination for shoppers interested in furniture, stationery and cards, holiday shopping and lifestyle items.

Despite all of the upheaval due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Leon & Lulu has thrived. Stationery, notepads and greeting cards have done well. Owner Mary Liz Curtin attributes that to her customers looking for additional ways to communicate. “Cards and stationery are a nice way to say ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m thinking of you.’ We also have an ‘inappropriate’ card for every occasion. The card shop is inside our restaurant, so customers can shop with a glass of wine inLeon & Lulu earrings display hand,” Curtin said. Home goods have done well, too, since customers are home much more than they used to be.

When the store had to close its doors to customers, Curtin focused on expanding the existing Leon & Lulu website, adding a robust e-commerce platform and focusing on offering curbside and delivery service. When they were able, the team added shopping by appointment to the offerings.

Curtin usually spends much of the year on the road, going to different trade shows to seek out existing vendors and new lines. Atlanta Market at AmericasMart is always on the list, with a stop each January and usually one in the summer as well. This year, Curtin is also attended Las Vegas Market in April.

At both shows, Curtin spends time with existing, established vendors, knowing that the product will always ship on time, and she keeps a budget for new vendors as well.

Besides the time in the Temporaries, seeking jewelry, scarves, children’s products and new vendors, Curtin always stops by Creative Co-Op, Raz Imports Inc. and Transpac.

Curtin missed out on Atlanta Market in January due to the pandemic. “I hadn’t been vaccinated yet,” Curtin said. “I got that second shot and immediately booked trips to several shows. I am ready. I’ve been coming to AmericasMart since it was the Atlanta Merchandise Mart and it was one building. So many of the big vendors have made the investment to show their lines really well. For Christmas buying, I really can’t not be Atlanta in January or March,” Curtin continued.

The first trip of the year always includes appointments with key vendors with “mass-oriented” transactions for the holiday season. She looks at margins and makes sure that not only will Leon & Lulu be able to still have a margin in products when they’re priced 50% off after the holidays. “You’ll make the money at Christmas not when selling products but when buying them,” Curtin said.

Beyond that, there is always a fun splurge built into the budget, such as paper flowers or ducks in rain boots, with a bet on a trend but not a big loss if the items do not sell well. Recently, Curtin picked up a new handbag line from Barcelona, Soruka in The Link Companies showroom; their line is made of leftover leather from tanneries, making for stunning bags with a unique upcycled look. Waxing Poetic, a line Leon & Lulu has never carried, ended up being the second new product line that Curtin added.

For those hoping to get a fresh take on buying in 2021, Curtin recommends that buyers look at their bestsellers and know what needs to be stocked at all times. Making sure those transactions are handled before letting whimsy take over is the most important thing Curtin does at shows. Second, Curtin looks to vendors to help her buy the right items at the right quantities from their line, so she always asks what she needs to stock to be successful and what bestsellers are in each line. After that, leftover budget can go to whimsy. It’s how Curtin manages to have the right items and the unique items to keep shoppers coming back to Leon & Lulu.

Upcoming events in Atlanta and Las Vegas:

Spring Cash & Carry: May 4 – 6, 2021

Atlanta Market: July 13 – 19, 2021

Las Vegas Market: August 22 – 26, 2021


© 2021 International Market Centers

Jess Schmidt

Jess brings a creative writing degree and over 16 years of professional writing experience to her role as content marketer for the Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions teams. With her additional background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language and marketing strategy. She moonlights as a contributing writer with Gift Shop Plus from time to time.

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