A special report from Giftware News’ columnist Marilyn Nason
While Mother Nature kept trying to scuttle a combination of three powerful regional late-February trade shows at the newly refurbished, upgraded Denver Mart, hardy Midwestern buyers and exhibitors proved that finding the proverbial "something new and different" trumps snow, sleet, ice, freezing temperatures every time, especially when the combined shows are the first of the new year. The combination of solid permanent showrooms and multi-line temporary exhibitors for the Denver Gift, Home, Jewelry and Resort Show, coupled with the Western Winter Sports Representatives Association's Rocky Mountain Winter Market (WWSRA) and the Denver Apparel and Accessory Market, offered stronger-than-ever one-stop-shopping opportunities for the buyers who braved whatever the elements had in store to find specific skus to create an optimum inventory mix for coming months for their individual brick-and-mortar stores and or online needs.
Nadine Sage of Sage Atelier’s handmade fine art buckle
The new Western Home & Design Center on the Mart's second floor main building featured some interesting high-end Western decor and home furnishings of special importance to many buyers surveyed during the show. Also drawing interest was not only a specific Made in America section in the Expo Building, but also the Made in America signs prominently displayed in countless showrooms and temporary booths throughout the entire show. To ensure every buyer was aware of the Mart ownership's and countless exhibitors’ commitment to Made in America merchandise, buyers got a handy list of these exhibitors as they registered. Because of the importance of the Denver Mart's location in the Rocky Mountain Midwest, emphasis for many exhibitors was on the rustic/lodge look currently growing in renewed interest nationwide, as well as the quality look of Western styling in everything from home decor to apparel.
Jac and Patricia Johnson, Three Points Design Inc. showed a variety of individual white cedar woodcarvings, several featuring their popular two owls in a horseshoe-shaped design. For the golfer, Robin Jacobs, owner, BallTallk, showed a variety of golf balls with humorous sayings, especially focused on golfers. Popular is the "so that was another "practice" swing, right? a perfect fun example for the gift to a struggling golfer.
While most buyers acknowledged they were working on a tight budget, most were not only optimistic but very enthusiastic for the variety of skus available at the show. Judy Montegue of Zellas Kitchen Shelf, Eagles Nest, N.M., set the tone of most buyers noting she was buying a little more than last year so welcomed the combined displays offered among the three shows' exhibitors.
A buyer at the Mart for 25 years, Dan Tribby, general manager, Prairie Edge Trading Co., Rapid City, S.D., commented, "I've never see the Mart look so good" as he viewed the improvements. This was a comment shared by several retailers touring the three shows. Also a regular buyer at the Mart, Jerrie Lodato, Hope & Glory, Gunnison, CO,,noted, "I always find what I want here, so I love coming to the Denver Mart."