How to Work the Denver Market

It’s that time of year again, the Western & English Sales Association January Market, aka Denver Market time. When all of the major western manufacturers gather in Colorado to showcase their wares for the next year to the eager buyers from retail stores all over the world.

If you’re a buyer, how do you navigate the vast floors of mind boggling apparel and tack and jewelry and get anything accomplished? Well, first off, know that there is a lot to see, and the western folks are very hospitable, so you’re going to end up spending more time in some rooms than others, as they have nice lunches and beverages and more comfortable chairs.

If your store carries tack and clothing, you have double the work cut out for you. Make sure you have a plan of which brands you MUST see first, and try to schedule appointments. If you can schedule your tack appointments on one day and apparel on another, you will save time, as most tack brands are in the temps (temporary rooms in the outlying buildings) and most of the major clothing and boot companies are in the “permanents” in the 4 story building. (note, these guys are the ones with the cushy chairs, tvs, and lunch). Try to schedule a whole afternoon if not day to walk around and see what is new that you haven’t seen before, but make sure to hit your “big buys” early to get your choices before a popular item is booked up.

Take notes, which is easier with cell phones. Always ASK BEFORE TAKING PHOTOS. These companies are very protective of their designs, as many of these are samples and haven’t been produced yet. If you’re buying an item, you should be able to take photos. If you haven’t set up an account, they probably won’t let you take a photo. This is a good way to get kicked out of a room. ¬†Keep copies of your orders, things get chaotic during the market and you will forget what you committed to and what you were going to come back and see over again.

I like to leave a day or at least an afternoon open to re-visit any booths that were too busy, or you needed time to consider, or to do your cash and carry personal shopping. Or even to visit with friends! You never know what comes up and no one wants to forget something.

Make sure you hydrate! Denver is really a mile high, and is very very dry. If you participate in the night time activities (there are lots of parties, dinners, concerts, etc), you REALLY need to hydrate. Really. Walk and water, people. Walk and water. Pick up any healthy or protein type snacks you may see, you don’t know when you will find them again and the chips and chocolate are much more plentiful.

Wear layers. The Mart is notorious for having terrible temperature control. Some rooms are freezing and some are boiling. Comfy shoes are nice, but we all know we want to wear our most fashionable western wear. There is nothing that is too much for this crowd. Leather with sequins and fur and turquoise all at the same time is really the norm. There is a coat/bag check located in between the buildings, and sitting areas around the first floor, as well as a couple on each floor around the atrium in the 4 story building.

Denver is a great city with amazing food options, the National Western Stock Show is going on at the same time, and be sure to check out the remodeled Union Station if you go downtown.

Make the most out of your market by preparing ahead of time things that have sold well, researching brands or companies online, making a list, setting appointments, and leaving plenty of free time in between to search out new companies and to enjoy Denver and visiting with old and new friends!