Nov 10, 2021
GHTA celebrates record attendance at 2021 conference

The Gift and Home Trade Association (GHTA), an industry non-profit trade association, announced the completion of the Annual Conference, held virtually, on Nov. 3-4, 2021. A record 329 attendees tuned in to hear the stellar lineup of speakers between the press, key retailers, both independent and nationwide chains, and industry leaders, including reps and principals and M&A and retail forecast experts.

“I am so proud of the 2021 Conference Committee for planning and executing two days’ worth of programming that not only provided resources to meet the needs of our members following the pandemic but inspired them to look ahead at how we can all shape the future of our industry” says John Toler, 2021 president for GHTA. “It is pivotal to act, not react, and this year’s conference had key speakers to guide that forward-thinking conversation and I challenge our members to turn those words into action.”

The programming set a new standard for quality and education for all members from this annual event. The goal was to provide a range of big picture industry challenges and happenings right over in the trench issues we are facing. Many members, from all facets, as well as the press and industry leaders donated their time and shared insights on timely conversations including the state of worldwide shipping and freight and supply chain logistics, the future of trade shows post-COVID, and the cost of negativity in the workplace. In addition to these, the GHTA facilitated “need-to-have” conversations between road reps, rep principals and factories on the state of the industry and where we go from here. Speakers this year included independent specialty stores, independent chains, and national retailers such as Kirkland’s and JC Penny.

“It was an honor to lead the Conference and I am especially proud of the Conference Committee who understands the industry’s challenges and topics that membership wanted to learn about. They delivered key content about every side of the industry to both inspire members for their future goals, and to educate them and prepare them for immediate challenges we all face. Our generous membership exceeded, by double our Charitable goal for Gift for Life, over the two days. Looking ahead to 2022, I am delighted to announce that our conference will be held in person in Tampa, Florida. Dates to be announced. We are excited to be together again in person come next year,” Michael Nieves, 2021 vice president added.

Election of 2022 Board

In addition to programming, a key component of the conference includes all GHTA members voting on the 2022 Officers and Board Members. As a result of votes during the November conference, the new Board includes:

  • Chairman: John Toler, Evergreen Enterprises
  • President: Michael Nieves, Paladone, Inc.
  • Vice President: Bob Watson, The Link Companies
  • Treasurer: Steve Vandivier, Dickson’s Gifts
  • Secretary: Julia Higgins, Two’s Company
  • Jessica Barile, Design Works Collective/Paddywax
  • Trudi Bartow, Unemployed Philosophers Guild
  • Dorothy Belshaw, International Market Centers
  • Heather Carrio, Portico Collections
  • Meg Gilmore, Anne McGilvray & Associates
  • Todd Litzman, Brandwise
  • Joan Ulrich, Dallas Market Center
  • RaeLee Walton, Roadrunners, LLC

About GHTA

The Gift and Home Trade Association (GHTA) was formed in 2000, as the gift and home industry’s non-profit professional trade association. The Association was designed to help and encourage vendors, sales agencies, industry affiliates and retailers to work together, improving relationships and making business better by providing members with the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with industry leaders. Essentially, the GHTA is a place for members to connect, to learn, and to contribute.

The Gift & Home Trade Association creates a national forum connecting industry leaders in their pursuit of ideas, innovations, and best practices to advance business progress. For more information, visit

Social Connections

👀Guess who else is speaking!We can't wait to hear from our guest speakers at The Garden Center Show, presented by Lawn & Garden Retailer - L&GR, happening Aug. 6-7 in Rosemont, IL. Are you attending? And did we mention registration is FREE?! Hear from these guest speakers:📣 Sarah Schwartz: Editor-in-Chief of Stationery Trends magazine and Host of The Paper Fold podcast📣 Lawson Thalmann: Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Chalet Nursery 📣 Allison McKenzie: Creative Director for Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions 📣 Kim Baker: COO & CMO for Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions🔗 Register for FREE:🌐 Learn more:🚌 Bus tour info: #GardenCenterShow #GardenEvents #InPersonEvent #Networking #RetailStrategies #SpecialtyRetailers #GardenCenter #Conference #speaker ... See MoreSee Less
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