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Filed under Halloween Jewelry, Halloween Masks, Masks, Seasonal Jewelry, Venetian Masks
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From Bulk Masks to Extravagant

Masks have so many facets, they could be a newsletter by themselves. To simplify, we are going to list categories with a picture and short description.

Venetian Style Masks:
A range of looks and prices inspired by the masks of Venice. New arrivals include leather masks and macramé masks.

Masquerade Masks:
Inexpensive masks for your customers doing parties that need bulk masks. Cats, butterflies, and masks on a stick are some of the styles.

Feather Masks:
Good looking masks at low wholesale prices. Your customers can wear them or use them for decorations or in centerpieces.

Day of the Dead Masks:
Popular in the Hispanic culture, The Day of the Dead occurs from Oct. 31 to Nov 2, corresponding to Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. It has a long history and banks in Mexico close for this event.

Rhinestone Masks:
Rhinestone masks are the height of extravagance in masks. Both rhinestone and crystal designs are available.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Filed under Masks, Uncategorized
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wholesale Venetian style masksWholesale masks have undergone massive developments in the last decade.  Ten year ago hardly anyone knew what Venetian masks were.  Since then they have become the subject of movies, realty shows, and celebrity pictures.



The Venetian masks that were so obscure ten years ago were never obscure in Venice.  Mask making is an art there.  Actually it so important an art that mask makers had their own guild in the Renaissance years.


Venetian style masks are designs inspired by the original art of Venice.  These wholesale masks carry a lower price tag.  They are works of art also, but often lack the originality that comes from the masters in Venice.



wholesale masks on a stick

Today more people are aware of these wholesale masks.  Here are a few styles you will probably recognize. First, the mask on a stick that is among the most popular Venetian style masks.  The one shown is white and silver—the top seller for Venetian weddings.  The mask also comes white and gold, which goes better when the bride has an ivory dress.  Also colors are popular for sweet sixteens and quinceaneras.


Venetian style mask maple leaf design

Venetian masks can be very elegant like the maple leaf mask shown.  These wholesale masks are surprisingly affordable considering the elaborate design and individual boxing.




Diavalo mask

The Diavalo masks works for Halloween.  Diavalo is Italian for devil.  A popular medium for masks in Venice is paper mache.  These masks use acrylic to capture a paper mache look and feel.




wholesale masks in Venetian style

The black ladies Venetian style mask with a spray of feathers on one side provides a more elegant Halloween mask.   The black color creates a mystique.



laser cut fleur-de-lis Venetian style mask

So what is the Venetian style masks that are galvanizing consumers’ interest this year?  The answer is laser cut metal masks.  These masks with elaborate cut designs deliver a masterful filigree eye mask for women.   Many are available in gold or sliver plating as well as colors.  The fleur-de-lis laser cut mask shown is gold plating.



laser cut butterfly mask

Some laser cut masks get more elaborate.  The butterfly mask pictured reaches new heights with a laser cut butterfly rising up on one side.  The mask is white and popular for weddings.


Halloween is less than a month away and consumers going to parties are more selective than ever about masks and costumes.  Stock wholesale masks early.  Then your customers can shop beautiful Venetian style masks that they will be proud to wear.

Comments (0) Posted by Michael Gietl on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

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Halloween has mushroomed into a massive retail event.  Results of The National Retail Federations’ survey are staggering.  In 2011, they reported a billion dollar increase in sales from the year before.  That was with 68.6% of people surveyed saying they were going to participate in Halloween.  In 2012, 71.5% are planning on joining in the celebration.  Not only are more people planning on celebrating, but they are also planning on spending more.  The average spend per person is increasing from $72.31 last year to $79.82 this year. 


So Halloween can be a major boon for retailers and this is the kind of business we don’t want to miss.  Is most of the money spent on kids?  According to Infographics Archive, adults outpace kids by nearly a quarter billion dollars.  


How can a retailer profit from Halloween if they’re not a party shop?  Of course, nearly any retail location can offer Halloween jewelry and accessories.  But there is an even bigger niche they can cash in on—the Halloween party business.  According to Infographics Archive, 34.3% of surveyed people either threw or attended a party last year.  THAT IS HUGE!  Everyone will certainly want some way to dress up or mask for the occasion and this is a big opportunity that works for nearly every retailer. 



 Venetian style masks

Our site breaks masks into categories so businesses can zero in on the type of masks they want more easily.  The main categories that work for Halloween parties are feather masks, Venetian masks, and masquerade masks.  When the person throwing the party provides the masks, they want a good looking option that is also reasonably priced.  Masquerade masks fit this bill better than anything. 



masquerade mask on a stick

Of course, any of the categories of masks mentioned above will work for masquerade parties.  But buyers that are outfitting large groups want value.  The lowest priced category on our site is masquerade masks.  Actually, the number one best selling mask regardless of categories is MM14, which is found under masquerade masks.   These are eye masks shaped to the face on a stick that folds down.  They have a wide choice of metallic colors with one side overlaid with lace.  One reason this is the leading mask is because the attractive look and color selection makes it popular for proms, sweet sixteens, and quinceaneras. 

 domino mask

That mask works well for gals, but guys prefer something not so ornate and not on a stick.  The most recognized of all masquerade masks is the domino mask and it is a popular choice for guys.  This is often referred to as the Lone Ranger mask because that is the style he wore.  The name, domino, comes from the French word for priest because they were originally accompanied by a hood and the black and white combination resembled the winter garb of priests.  


Also popular for guys are a paper Mache’ eye mask that ties on with ribbons like Venetian masks do.  These masks are available in white or painted with a variety of color options.  Black along with white are the most popular colors. 


The selection of masquerade masks has expanded considerably in recent years with the addition of cat masks, butterfly masks, and eye masks with painted eyelashes or with artistic shapes that are enhanced with sparkling stones.  More on masks in the next blog, but right now let’s look at another hot item for Halloween parties—novelty hats. 




If there are two things that are going to be top on the list for grown-ups participating in Halloween parties, it has to be masks and novelty hats.  These hats are magic.  Think about yourself or anyone else that comes across a display of novelty hats.  It takes all the will power in the world to keep from trying them on.  They have some kind of magical attraction. 

 witch novelty hat

Furthermore, nothing is too crazy in novelty hats for those celebrating Halloween.  The number one best seller for gals during Halloween is the witch hat.  These black hats with a wired brim that stands out straight and a spider dropping from the brim on a string make great decorations for the store as well as hot items to sell.  Actually, they sell out well before October and have to be reordered more than once before we get to Halloween. 

 hamburger novlety hat

Novelty hats can be as ferocious as tigers or alligators or as sweet as princess hats.  Really crazy designs include pizza hats, hamburgers, and hotdogs.  How about a giant chili pepper, a Rasta hat with dreadlocks, or a cow that moos.


More common party hats are pirate hats, crowns, Uncle Sam hats, and military hats.  In addition to more than 80 designs listed under Novelty Hats, there are another 18 under Mardi Gras Crazy Hats and more under nearly every category for seasonal items like Christmas. 


Masquerade masks and novelty hats—they certain to be important in celebrations as big as Halloween and can be a huge plus for sales in your shop.  Next blog will detail all the categories of masks for the season.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Filed under Boas, Brooches, Fashion Jewelry, Feather Masks, Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras Beads, Mardi Gras Earrings, Mardi Gras Masks, Masks, Necklace Sets, Sports Jewelry, Uncategorized, Valentine Jewelry, Venetian Masks, Wholesale Jewelry
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This is the 27th year for Accessory Wholesale inc. business.  Sometimes we have to stop and ask, have we learned anything over the last quarter of a century in business?  Our business is fashion jewelry and accessories plus some really fun items like Mardi Gras and masks.  Those familiar with fashion know that it is cyclical.  Trends come and go, business build for years and then reverse for years in rollercoaster-like cycles. 

 How does small business survive that?  Our business as a wholesaler depends on the success of small retailers.  These are our customers.  Some small fashion businesses have found their space in the retail world and are doing very well, while many others may feel the walls closing in with competitions from major retailers as well as taxes, insurance, and everything else including days with problem customers. 

 Over the last 27 years, we haven’t come up with neat little formulas for guaranteed success, but we have noticed some tactics by successful retailers that seem to work.  This blog and the following two will hash out five ideas. 


How many times have we heard the three most important things that make a business successful are location, location, and location?  Sounds simple enough, right?  That is until we try to pin down what is the right location.  Most areas have shopping destinations that can draw from 25 and more miles away.  This is often a mall like the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette, La. or the White Oaks Mall in Springfield, Ill. 

 These shopping destinations get plenty of traffic, but leases are through the roof.  Small business often feels it is giving all the profit to the property owner. I noticed something as a road salesman calling on small fashion businesses.  Many successful businesses were in smaller towns away from the shopping destination. They had desirable merchandise and were conveniently close to their customers.  Personal service accompanied by a high level of energy made shoppers feel special as well as energized to buy.  They were packed with customers when locals needed gifts for those special days like Valentines Day and Mothers Day. 

 Location and the price of the lease need to be weighed to determine whether sales volume is going to overcome the lease cost. 


The Christmas shopping season is probably the time when small business feels major retailers cutting into their sales more than any other time of the year.  Niche markets insulate small business from the onslaught.  Most niche markets are an area where the majors simply don’t go. 


A few examples will make the point.  Since Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, especially in New Orleans, fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories have been extremely popular.  It is the symbol of the City as well as on the Acadiana flag.  Louisiana has rallied around this emblem since the devastation of the Hurricane and it has been in hot demand by the locals.  But the only place to find a nice selection is small business.  This is a niche market that small business owns. 


Think about sports.  Local high schools and colleges have a following of avid fans.  This is a super niche market, especially high schools.  Of course manufacturers are not going to produce lines of merchandise for individual high schools, but that is where the ingenuity of small business comes in. 

 If this were a recipe, school colors and school mascots would be the main ingredients.  Decorating an area with colors and the mascot screams “local high school” to your shoppers.  Everything from stuffed animals to jewelry and printed shirts creates the story.  In jewelry, chokers, mascot pendants, and school color beads can be offered separately so customer can create their own high school jewelry.  School color bracelets are also available to fit into the theme.  If mascot pendants aren’t available, simply substitute a sports pendant like a football.  That with the school color beads will tell the story.  Sounds like a lot of creativity and work?  Well, there are some easier choices that can add other niche markets. 


In some areas, Mardi Gras is huge and this market belongs almost entirely to small business.   If “The Greatest Free Show on Earth” is celebrated in your area, take advantage of the enormous retail business done in Mardi Gras items while other parts of the country are recovering from Christmas.  If not, you be the shop that introduces this fun celebration to your area. 

 What makes up an irresistible Mardi Gras selection for retailers?  Of course, beads must be included—not cheap throw beads, but specialty beads that consumers will pay money for.  Hand-strung Mardi Gras beads in nice designs and Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green have to be part of the selection. But other colors are often used in beads that have a theme, like crawfish boil, jesters, peppers, seafood, oysters on the half shell, and more. 

 Novelty hats are also an almost necessary party item.  Purple, gold, and green novelty hats again do well for Mardi Gras—headwear like jester hats, sequin tiaras, mad hatters, or crowns.  But any crazy hat will be popular for this super party.  You need a lot of selection, but not a lot of depth.  The market doesn’t end on Ash Wednesday.  Festivals, birthday parties, and sporting events are more opportunities for sales in this fun headwear.    


  Boas are a festive accessory popular with girls—purple, gold, and green for Mardi Gras day, but other colors do very well also.  When buying boas, the fullness is determined by weight and a good weight is 55 to 60 grams. 

 Masks are a major ingredient for Mardi Gras and selection has certainly become more sophisticated over the last few years.  Feather masks, both worn with elastic bands and on a stick to be held, continue to provide more breath-taking designs.  The sequin mask with a spray of feathers to one side is leading seller year after year.  Coque, ostrich, and marabou feathers make a fabulous arrangement in the spray, making these masks extraordinary without being expensive.  

 The rising star in masks is Venetian style masks.  These gorgeous works of art were practically unknown a few years ago and now frequent reality shows, TV, and the movies.  The art of mask making had its own guild in Venus during the Renaissance and the growing popularity of Venetian style masks makes it hard to pass up when stocking your store. 

 Venetian style masks can be affordable with designs like the Arlecchino patchwork patterns of eye masks for men or masks mounted on sticks with lavish ostrich plumes for women. 

 Exceptional styles include the full-face jester masks in Mardi Gras colors as well as butterfly Venetian style masks for women that are breath-taking.  Venetian masks have the history and artistic beauty that will make you proud to include them in your inventory. 

 Whew!  This blog took more time than I expected so we will save two important areas for small business until the next blog—the areas of jewelry for special occasions and seasons plus key niche markets that appeal to a wider audience. 

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Filed under Mardi Gras Masks, Masks, Masquerade Masks, Venetian Masks
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As 2012 rolls out, retailers are looking for every edge to build a successful year, especially if the holiday season was less than spectacular.  One often-overlooked market that has more sales potential than imagined is masks.  I’m sure that will raise some eyebrows of doubt, but this market has been growing quietly under radar for the last few years. 


You have seen them in movies and in reality shows, but probably had little idea how popularity was growing.  Today schools are doing masquerade proms; couples are having Mardi Gras or Venetian weddings; fundraisers are using masks to raise money; and masked balls are growing in popularity. 


When your customers need large quantities, they usually turn to masquerade masks because they get a reasonably good look at very inexpensive price.  One-step up is feather masks—still inexpensive, but exceptional in appearance. 


However, the surprising big winner in today’s market is Venetian style masks.  They have a history that dates back to the Renaissance where the art had its own Guild in Venice.  Masking was common in Venice and eventually got out of hand, causing the Church to step in and limit the time to Carnival, from the Feast of the Epiphany until Mardi Gras Day.


Some designs were popular among the public and others found inspiration in the Commedia dell’arte, the Venetian theatre.  From popular designs comes the Bauta mask and no one can visit Carnival in Venice without seeing this style that was a favorite disguise by the populace of the City.  Accompanied with a cape or hood, the mask not only covered the face, but also muffled the voice to avoid identification of the wearer. 


Mask inspiration also comes from the Commedia dell’arte.  Actually, the original masks used during the Renaissance were made of leather, but his revival of the art in the early 1970s took the characters as inspiration and brought the art to a new level. 


The long nose mask is an example.  The servant characters of the Commedia dell’arte were called Zanni.  This form of theatre is the origin of slapstick.  (The name actually comes from Arlecchino’s sword that had two pieces of wood separated so when he smacked someone with it the wood slapped together making a noise.)  The raw humor associated the length of a Zanni’s nose with how dumb the character was—the longer the nose, the dumber the character.  From this comes the Zanni mask with exaggerated nose, so popular today. 


The leading servant character was Arlecchino often represented by patchwork patterns reflecting his patched clothes.  Arlecchino masks are a favorite for men for masquerade. 


It the US Carnival is most commonly referred to as Mardi Gras.  The full-face jester mask in Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green is a spectacular piece of art that is Venetian inspired and can be worn or used as a wall mask.  The jester hat and collar are shapeable. 


Venetian style masks can also be very elegant.  Venetian style weddings today use masks, often masks on a stick.  The most popular style has ostrich plumes in color combinations of white and silver or white and gold.  This is growing in popularity faster than most people realize. So if you are a bridal shop, don’t overlook the possibilities here.   


Fundraisers and masquerade balls often call for more elaborate Venetian style masks.  The butterfly Venetian style mask is exceptional.  A mesh screen above the top provides the appearance of butterfly wings.  This style is pricier so quantities aren’t large, but the engaging beauty of the design keeps it selling. 



The newest Venetian style mask in the upper end comes individually boxed with dimensionally shaped maple leaves surrounding the eye mask.  Two-tone colors shade for a spectacular effect.  The inspiration of the maple leaves is a mystery, but the beauty sells this work of art. 


Mardi Gras is a month away and it is it huge for mask sales.  Beyond that interest continues all the way to summer with proms, weddings, balls, and fundraisers.  Surprise yourself by trying some masks in your shop.  There is a bigger market than most retailers realize. 

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, January 19th, 2012

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Where has the year gone?  New Year’s Eve just passed, marking the end of 2011.  Most people don’t miss this opportunity for a celebration, whether a romantic evening out or the fun of a masquerade party.  And masquerade parties have been accelerating in popularity thanks to all the innovations in masks over the last few years. 


Think about it.  Probably less than 5 years ago most people had no clue what a Venetian mask was.  Now they are the rave, popping up in movies and reality shows.  The driving force of any trend, including the rising popularity of masks, is innovation.  Innovations in the art of Venetian mask are coming so quickly, it is breath-taking.  



New on the mask scene are maple leaf Venetian masks—eye masks surrounded with dimensionally shaped maple leaves, creating a stunning work of art.  Most Venetian masks find roots in the Italian comedy introduced during the Renaissance in Venice, but the origin of these gorgeous masks doesn’t fit any of the Commedia ‘dell Arte characters. So inspiration is a mystery, but that doesn’t take away from stunning attractiveness of the masks that have several color choices.  They come individually boxed with clear plastic tops so retailers can easily display the Venetian style masks. 




Venetian styloe mask with filigreeFiligree cutouts are another new innovation in Venetian style masks.  One exciting design has a filigree butterfly that appears to flutter above an eye mask.  Two-tone color provides variety with one color, usually metallic, shading to another color while scrollwork adds artistic beauty.  Best of all, the wholesale price of these gorgeous masks lets shopkeepers pass on a bargain to their customers.  


Full face masks, especially jesters with attached jester hats and collars, just keep getting more spectacular every season.  The masks are loaded with personality, using dimensionally shaped faces and brocade fabric on the shapeable hat and collar.  A low wholesale price will help you with sell-through on these stunning full-face jester masks. 


Mardi Gras is February 21 this year so we don’t want to ignore full-face Mardi Gras jester masks.   What a striking statement these masks make as wall hangings or masks to wear.  Sculptured features provide dimensionally raised design in paper mache’ that is the renowned medium for Venetian mask art.  A ribbon loop I the center lets the jester face hang as a wall mask and ribbons on each side tie to hold the face in place as a full-face mask to wear.  This is not the cheapest Mardi Gras mask, but certainly one of the most stunning. 



domino mask with veil

Is there any mask more widely known than the domino mask?  This is the familiar Lone Ranger mask and the one seen on burglars in cartoons.  Inexpensive and understated, these masks are a favorite for men and now have a new design with a beaded veil that will provide a style for women. 


Cat faces and butterflies offer more masquerade masks for ladies in a variety of colors.  From black cats to leopards, these face masks with nylon whiskers provide masquerade wear at low cost that gives you an option for your customers throwing parties that need a large quantity at affordable prices.

 butterfly masquerade mask

The butterfly masks also catch attention with five different color combinations.  Lots of sparkle and eye-catching pop with these masks that are oh so affordable. 




Feather mask

A sequin mask wit a spray of feathers to one side is the feather mask that ends up in the top seller list every year.  This look is just so good, nothing seems able to replace it so the style remerges as the number one selling feather mask year after year.  It is available on a stick or with elastic bands to wear.  Color choices let the masks match outfits for events like Sweet Sixteens or Quinceaneras—one more big boost for these stunning masks. 


Well, New Year’s Eve is only the beginning of the line up of fun events coming over the next few months.  The Greatest Free Show on Earth—Mardi Gras–is fast approaching and masks are certainly big for this event.  So stock some masks in your shop now and surprise yourself with all the interest they draw and how well this item sells.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, January 6th, 2012

Filed under Masks, Masquerade Masks, Uncategorized, Venetian Masks, Wall Masks
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 Tired of the sultry heat of summer?  Well fall is coming and Halloween is just ten weeks away.  So one way to build some excitement in your store during the muggy days of August is to introduce some extraordinary art in masks that will grab customers’ attention—and do it before all the discounters roll out their Halloween and try to steal your thunder. 

Before we begin reviewing the fabulous new designs in masks, let’s see how important Halloween is to retail sales.  The National Retail Federation keeps track of this kind of stuff and the 2010 results are online.  What category do you think led Halloween sales in 2010?  If you answered kids’ costumes, that is 4th.  Candy was first, decorations were second, and adult costumes finished third.  That means there is a lot more Halloween parties for adults than we would have imagined and that is good for us because they will need masks. 

The NFR reports that adult parties are growing every year and 2009 accounted for 6 billion in sales with 2010 being bigger.   In a fragile economy, this is a huge help.  Combine new arrivals in masks with some of the timeless designs already in our line and you can capture part of these sales.    

Ladies masks this season will take your customers’ breath with a maple leaf design that tastefully combines crystals, glitter, cupped maple leaves, and a special technique in painting that gives an antiqued crackled effect to these Venetian style masks that come individually boxed with clear plastic tops.  

A second Venetian style mask using maple leaves also comes individually boxed.  The same special technique of painting delivers the crackle design with maple leaves extending from one end and a feather arrangement on the other.  Both designs are eye masks that can be worn while eating or drinking at a party and both have color choices. 

Want a ladies mask with all the mystique of masquerade?  A new lace mask in black certainly fills the bill.  The eye mask shapes to the face with lace blended with a hazy film that is semi-transparent.  Beaded drops are spaced along the bottom of the mask.  Price is very reasonable and these masks need to be part of your Halloween display because they certainly look the part. 

In Venetian style masks, a new full-face jester offers all the artistic craftsmanship anyone could want in a mask at a price that will make your customers look twice.  While not as convenient for enjoying food or drink at a party, these jester masks are so outstanding that customers will have a hard time passing them by at these prices.  They also have a loop that lets them double as wall hangings. 


Sometimes the host provides masks for their guests so they need something that is attractive, yet very affordable.  New arrivals have a variety of masquerade masks that will work for Halloween parties.  For men, nothing is more popular or more recognized than the domino mask.  You know this mask.  It is the lone ranger mask that is also worn by several other super heroes and used in cartoons to denote burglars and bad guys.  During the Renaissance, the mask was accompanied with a hood that looked much like the garb a priest wore for warmth.  The root word for the domino mask is the French word for priest.  These domino masks sandwich flexible mylar between thin layers of fabric for quality that is still inexpensive. 

Perhaps the most exciting new masquerade mask for women is the glittery butterfly mask.  They have the shape of a butterfly with wings spread and plenty of sparkle.  Best of all cost is $2.20 wholesale and price drops with quantity.  So your customers that are hosting parties can still get a great buy even after your markup. 

Summer is nearly over and won’t be missed unless you are a summer tourist destination.  Fall is around the corner and that should translate into better sales.   Why not start the excitement now with knockout items customers will be looking for shortly.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Filed under Mardi Gras Masks
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 The familiar colors of Mardi Gras–purple, gold, and green–show up every Carnival season in every kind of Mardi Gras item, but this year they are making a big hit in Mardi Gras masks

Many are already familiar with the vibrant color of Mardi Gras feather masks, especially the marabou masks with a full fluff of feathers brilliantly displaying purple, green, and yellow for gold.  These masks are still extremely important for gift shops and event planners because they offer such a bargain for a fabulous look.  Shops that stock these masks by the dozen, can sell them under $4.95 and be very profitable. 

The most popular feather mask remains a sequin mask mounted on a stick with a spray of ostrich and coque feathers on one side (VM81).  Year in and year out, this remains the number one Mardi Gras mask.  The second most popular is VM82, the same masks with elastic strings instead of a stick.  Especially the mask on a stick is extremely popular with florist because adding them to an arrangement makes easy Mardi Gras centerpieces.


Shops that need very inexpensive Mardi Gras masks for impulse items have a great option in the masquerade masks, MM10.  These eye masks come in three solid colors (purple, gold, and green) and the colors come evenly divided in a pack for shops buying by the dozen. 

Venetian masks have been rising in popularity over the last few years and design haven’t ignored Mardi Gras, perhaps the biggest masked event of the year.  One of the first Mardi Gras Venetian masks is the full-face joker mask.  Everybody recognizes this face that appears in every deck of cards.  Actually, inspiration for this character is the crafty servant, Arlecchino, from the Italian comedy that finds its roots in the Renaissance. 

The joker masks are made with paper mache’ like the artisans of Venice use in mask making.  It fits the face and also makes a great wall hanging.  Bargain priced, the joker mask needs to be in your selection of Mardi Gras items because it makes such a great souvenir to take home.  

Its Venetian style masks that provide the fabulous new designs this season.  Purple, gold, and green return in an exciting way to masks.  Sparkly color creates diamond-shape patterns in masks on a stick.  For centuries, this pattern has been tied to the Commedia dell’arte, the Italian Comedy.  The diamond-pattern represents patchwork clothing of the poor servant, Arlecchino.  Dyed marabou and ostrich feathers top the mask in Mardi Gras colors. 

Another popular pattern introduced in Venetian style masks this season is tiger stripe.  Again, purple, gold, and green form the pattern that is anew artist’s conception this season.  One eye-catching design has an eye mask that spikes up on one side in a flame-like design with dyed ostrich and marabou feathers adhering to the same side. 

Mardi Gras masks are grabbing customers’ attention this season with innovation.  There is still nearly a month left before Fat Tuesday so stock your shop now and get ready for the revelers.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

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How many knew what Venetian masks were ten years ago?  Not many, but these masks have so much history, art, and culture surrounding them that they can’t be kept a secret.  Television certainly found Venetian masks and made a statement with them.  Paris Hilton’s finale had everyone wearing one, Vampire Diary did the same, and movies like Eyes Wide Shut helped make Venetian masks a household name.    

Visit Venice and fabulous masks will take your breath as shop after shop shows their artistic masterpieces, revealing more than ever thought possible in mask making.  Venice is the home of this art and the roots go back to the Middle Ages.  A form of theatre developed during the Renaissance called Commedia dell’arte—a comedy performed in the market place with stock characters. 

The popularity took Commedia dell’arte all over Europe and the characters developed and sometimes evolved into other characters.  All the male characters in the theatre wore masks.  Originally the masks were molded in leather, but with time these characters became the inspiration for fabulous works of art that used paper mache’ and became well known as Venetian masks. 

The stock characters had their own personality and characteristics and it was the actors’ job to present the character within this framework. Subject matter was a parody of the times and the performance sometimes had written lines, but often was improvised. 

Some of the best known characters are the inspiration for today’s Venetian masks.  Perhaps the best known is Arlecchino, the servant of Pantalone, presented in masks with the familiar patch-work quilt design, representing patched clothing.  He is acrobatic, but dull witted and has an attraction for Columbina, a female servant.  Arlecchino has a wooden sword with two pieces separated by a block of wood that makes a slapping sound when he smacks someone with it.  From this comes the word “slap-stick”. 


Zanni are other servants.  They are portrayed with long noses because the longer the nose, the dumber the character.  Many believe Zanni is a corruption of Gianni, a common name from Lombard, an area that mainly relied on farming.  When Venice turned to imports for most of its food, many from Lombard were unemployed and went to Venice to work as servants. Zanni is a parody of these servants and the Zanni mask has a long nose.    


Pulcinella is perhaps the character in the Italian comedy that reaches back farthest in history.  A Pulcinella mask has a long curved beak and the derivative of the name is little chick.  He is a short hunch-backed character that is sometimes master and sometimes servant.  Some believes Pulcinella dates back to the Roman theatre, called Atellenae, performed in Rome in the late Fourth Century. 


Women characters were unmasked in the Commedia dell’arte, but the artisans in Venetian masks applied a mask to Columbina, the most famous female servant of the Italian comedy.  Arlecchino was always pursuing Columbina who, in turn, was always trying to change him, but eventually she has to accept him just as he is.  Columbina masks are rather simple eye masks. 


The characters of the Italian Comedy were exaggerations of personality traits.  II Capitano is one of those exaggerations.  He claims to be a Spanish soldier with a history of courageous feats, while deep down he is really a coward.  Capitano masks often include the military hat and superb masks for men.    

II Dottore actually claims to be a university professor rather than a medical doctor.  He misuses words and expounds useless knowledge in an ostentatious way.  The mask has a bulbous nose, bushy eyebrows, and a furled brow. 


The jolly mask, also referred to as the joker mask is extremely popular in Venetian masks and if we connect it to a character, it would have to be Arlecchino because he is acrobatic and often considered more of a jester than a servant.  These are some of the most fabulous Venetian masks and are used as wall hangings as well as full faced masks.  The mask usually includes the curled horns of a jester hat and come in styles for men and women. 


The Bauta mask actually dates back to public masking in Venice rather than the Italian comedy.  Masking went on year round and promoted promiscuous behavior before the Church stepped in and set the dates for masking between the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan 6) and the day before Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras Day).  The Bauta mask was popular because it not only covered the face, but the long chin area covered the mouth and muffled the voice, making it difficult to identify anyone acting up.  This mask became traditional for Carnival and is often seen during Carnival in Venice.   


Some Venetian masks are simply beautiful works of art and do not find their beginnings in characters of the Commedia dell’arte.  VM72 is such a mask with white and silver or gold color and a crown of flowing white ostrich feathers.  The mask come on a stick and is a top selling mask for Venetian weddings.  VM71 offers the same style that stays in place with elastic bands. 

Venetian masks are one breath-taking work of art after another.  Anyone glancing through the category has to be impressed.  Many retailers are a little reluctant to branch into Venetian masks because price points are higher than feather masks or masquerade masks.  Don’t be reluctant because of price.  Start slowly and test the waters with your customer base.  Most retailers that have done this get a good response and return for more inventory to widen their selection.  Venetian masks are just too gorgeous for customers to ignore.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

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  THE NATIONAL RETAIL FOUNDATION estimates that despite a spooky recession, Halloween spending should rise more than 17 percent this year, providing the economy with a much-needed break from reality.  Halloween is big business, and Americans are apparently dedicated to having it stay that way.  After all, what would we do without our annual foray into the land of witches and pirates, ghosts and goblins? 

This is a time for more than sales; this is a time for scary fun…and practically everybody wants to get in on it.  For example, more than 40 percent of Americans plan to wear a costume for Halloween, the NRF says, and that is up from last year, too…a whopping 33.4 percent! 

Retailers in Palm Beach County, Florida report that sales for the holiday are already way up, and prospects for sales now through the holiday are excellent.  This is admittedly an affluent section of the nation, but still, the economy has been unusually depressed in Florida, making the sales hike all the more significant.

Of added interest here are a number of trends that have surfaced regarding this year’s Halloween.  The Palm Beach Posts reports Billy Wilke of Halloween City as saying, “It’s like people are saying that the down times won’t let us stop celebrating.”  Hey, that is really good news!




                                           Vampires and Gossamer Ghosts 

SALES OF OUTDOOR decorative Halloween items have been selling at a fast clip.  That means gossamer ghosts to hang from trees in front of the house, pumpkins to carve and put at the entry door, recordings to pour out groans and the clatter of chains to passersby.

   –Oh, things are getting spookier and spookier!

But that is just the beginning.  What about costumes for the big day and night?  Of course, the classics are selling well, like witches, princesses, fairies, ninjas and Spider Man outfits. 

Humor costumes are usually important, and vampires are hot, thanks in no small way to the many other-worldly programs on TV. Alice in Wonderland, (thanks to the fabulous 3-D film), Iron Man and costumes from Monster High are also on the Very Important “Scare” list.

But here’s a big surprise:  Costumes of politicians are down, down, down.  Hmmmm.  Wonder what this says about things?  A spokesperson for a national Halloween retail operation has a good explanation.  She says “people are sick of all the politics, period.”

                                            Discount Deals

NOT UNLIKE THE REST OF THE ECONOMY, discounts, deals and bargain items represent the hottest Halloween retail trend this year.  Seems like everybody wants something at a lower price than usual. 

At Party City in Florida, special 99-cent impulse items for Halloween have been positioned for fast sales right next to the check-out register.  And, instead of straight Halloween window ads, this year’s displays claim “Incredibly Low Prices” with 50 percent off select costumes, and discount prices on a bevy of other items, from Halloween jewelry to masks and Monster makeup.

   –And has that brought in customers?  You bet!

A  retailer in Illinois has been featuring the newly popular, “buy one, get one free” 

promotion.  In this case, the items are tombstones, and they’ve been selling like wildfire!

Masks have been top sellers in big Halloween run-up. However, not everybody wants to pay the regular retail rate.  Less subject to price pressures, however, are “classic” masks, such as special art creations and extraordinary Venetian masks.


                                             NRF Survey

ABOUT 70 PERCENT OF CONSUMERS in a recent NRF survey said the economy would have some bearing on their Halloween plans.  That has so far been strongly seen in the tendency of customers to say they’ll wait for items to go on sale before they buy.  Many customers are reportedly also bringing in coupons printed from websites for special Halloween items.

Home décor has also ratcheted up for Halloween.  Many people want to make the inside of their houses as scary as the outside, so enter items to give house guests goose pimples! The display of books like Dracula and Frankenstein are a quiet way of saying “Be careful all you who enter here.” And wall masks from all parts of the world give color and even frenzy to any living (or should we say “living-dead”) room. 

Eeeeeeee!  Ghosts are walking.  Vampires are smiling.  Halloween is coming soon!



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, October 25th, 2010