Denver Mart Displays Its New Look As It Welcomes Buyers With A Multitude of Resources

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.

Overseeing their first show in the upgraded venerable Denver Mart, new Woodhaven-Hawthorne owners John Doyle, CEO/managing partner, and Ted Herrick welcomed buyers. The new look, coupled with a broader-than-ever selection of merchandise, made including the Denver Mart in that early 2013 show schedule more interesting than in recent years. The new ownership definitely won accolades from long-time Midwest buyers, not only with the exciting assortment of lines and introductions but also with an impressive lineup of constant events each day from the moment the shows opened each morning to well after closing each evening throughout all the main Mart building, as well as in the Pavilion housing the WWSRA Rocky Mountain Winter Market, in Plaza at the Mart, Forum and Expo Building sections, the latter housing hundreds of temporary exhibitors.

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.

Always a familiar look at Denver Mart shows, unique belt buckles were on display, including fine art ones handmade in Colorado by Nadine Sage of Sage Atelier. Popular designs included unusual oval and rectangular shapes featuring fish and floral patterns. A traditional, yet contemporary blend of styles highlighted willow decorative wood furnishings for both home and garden from Rick and Denise Pratt at highlighted by bright splashes of color, other dominated by solid copper tops. For chocolate lovers, Cowgirl Chocolates are a must. An interesting variety of chocolates are offered in both sweet mild and spicy flavors in fun packaging some including the challenge "o ahead, hotshot, try the spicy." Along the same fun theme, a western trail lunchbox includes quarter pound box of spicy truffles; quarter pound of mild truffles; 8 ounce of spicy hot cocoa.

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."