The opening of the International Sports Plaza (ISP), which will permanently occupy floors two through four (400,000 square feet) of the Atlanta Apparel Mart, will bring a new look to the mart. A Portman Cos. venture, the ISP is hoping to represent all facets of the sporting goods industry, including equipment, licensed products, activewear and sports marketing firms. Tenants currently on floors two through four of the mart will be relocated to floors five through 15. Plans call for the plaza level, which houses temporary exhibit space for the Southeastern Traveler's Exhibitors (STE), to remain on the first floor during regular market times. The sales reps' move will begin in September and should be completed and in place by January. Below, WWD asked reps how the move and the new ISP will affect business.
ALAN DAVIDSON, principal, DAVIDSON-BARR ASSOCIATES, a multiline bridal and formal sales firm: "It's a good deal for the market. The sports hype, combined with the Olympics, might not bring in more dollars over the long haul, but it should draw more traffic. The most important thing is consolidation of the mart. Buyers are concerned when they get off the elevators and see empty showrooms. If you go to a restaurant at 9 p.m. and it's empty, then you want to walk out, and it's the same thing with buyers. We're currently on five and will be moving to 10. It's good for us, because it will consolidate bridal and formal resources into one floor."
FRED DE LUCA, president, Southeastern Traveler's Exhibitors, and multiline sportswear rep on the first (Plaza) floor: "Everybody's in favor of consolidation, but I'm opposed to the way it's being done. We're concerned that STE's first floor will be separate from the rest of the mart. Ideally, we'd like the mart to occupy the bottom floors and the sports plaza or whatever could be above that. Also, I question whether bringing in all the sports-related business, which should include retail, will compromise the integrity of the building, which has always been devoted to business people coming to buy apparel. The image of the mart is very important in determining which show buyers attend."
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