DALLAS — Spirits were up during the four-day spring and summer market last week at the Dallas Market Center, which drew extra traffic from the complex’s major gift show that ended a day earlier.
Reporting healthy holiday business, specialty merchants shopped primarily for immediate deliveries of jewelry and handbags, as well as colorful, breezy summer tunics, tops, dresses and shorts. Trends included tie-dye knitwear, floral and ethnic-print tops and dresses, short shorts, and such embellishments as monograms, fringe, tassels, studs and perforations.
Buyers were keen on black and white combinations, as well as sherbet brights, turquoise and cobalt.
“It was the best January show I’ve ever had in my entire life,” said Pam Martin, who represents labels such as Weston Wear, Madison Mathews and Julie Brown in her showroom. “We were crazy busy and they left orders. I sold tons of colorful shorts, tops, dresses and tunics.”
Sales representative Pam Kramer said, “A lot of apparel stores came to the gift show and the fashion market was good.”
Kramer said her misses’ showroom beat year-ago figures by selling lots of light, easy and colorful tops by Bella Tu, along with GiGi leather tote bags, Dana Stein furs and Color Club nail lacquers.
Kramer and other reps said they worked with more merchants from outside Dallas’ bedrock four-state territory.
“As retailers continue to diversify their merchandising mix, we saw many retailers coming to the gift show and staying on through the apparel market, increasing our number of buyers from several regions,” said Cindy Morris, DMC chief operating officer. “Our largest growth came from the West, especially Arizona, California and Colorado, as well as the Southeast, including Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee.”
Retail budgets were across the board, with low oil prices causing some to make cuts, while others planned increases and store expansion. Emphasis on low prices seemed more prevalent than at recent shows.
Paula Cannon, owner of Willow in the heart of the oil patch in Midland, Texas, was unfazed by the energy plunge, though she did plan to spend about 10 percent less at the show.
“It’s boom or bust, that’s just the way it is, and you learn to enjoy the good times and prepare for the bad,” Cannon said. “We don’t get too concerned anymore.”
Marla Ross hiked her budget 30 percent as she shopped for Adelante, the boutique her grandmother founded 40 years ago in San Antonio. Three years ago she moved the misses’ and contemporary shop to the Pearl Brewery, which presents independent merchants and eateries and other attractions in a redeveloped 19th-century complex.
“The Brewery is the new hot spot,” Ross said. “They’re opening a Kimpton Hotel this spring, and we’re in full growth.”
Scouting for goods for the annual fiesta and a rodeo, Ross selected “cool, funky accessories,” including necklaces draped with multiple turquoise pendants embedded in old bullet casings by Black Black Moon.
Vickey Hoffman said she’s adding 2,200 square feet to J. Hoffman’s, her 42-year-old boutique in Lubbock, Texas, where the economy revolves around cotton and wind farms, oil and Texas Tech University.
“Our business is great, no complaints,” she said. “We’re in a bubble where we don’t have high highs or low lows. Our college customer will have money to shop.”
Easy patio dresses, item tops and jewelry were priorities for Wynne Foster and Heather Hanson, co-owners of In Clover in Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, Kan. Among their selections were immediate deliveries of strapless dresses and sheer tops by Language, skinny A.G. jeans and “lots of jewelry,” Hanson said.
“Kansas City is super casual — cute jeans, a cute top and heels is dressing up at night,” Foster said. “We have to be really careful of our price point because people want to come in and spend money and not feel guilty.”