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Providing Warm Feelings - Literally and Figuratively

The following is a conversation with Beth Long, President of The Long Sales Group, which is based in Denver, Colorado. She has an overhead view of the trends taking foot in the Rocky Mountain Region. She’s also had a close look at how the region responded to, and bounced back from, the pandemic. In this discussion she shares why ‘resilience’ is the theme for 2024. 

What differentiates the Rocky Mountain Region?

First: we have two seasons for people to come visit. Most resort areas only have one season—Summer—and it’s Memorial Day to Labor Day and then you’re done for the year. The Rocky Mountain Region happens to be very lucky to also have a winter season that attracts a large number of visitors. Some businesses here can do just as much business in January, February, March, and April as they do in the Summertime. Instead of just getting ready for one season, and saying, “I hope it’s a great season!” we sort of have this backup season.

Second: we also have a lot of local artists and companies to choose from, and the products they have to offer really embody the lifestyle of the Mountain Region. Whether it's walking, hiking, biking, camping - people are here because they love the outdoors. So you're going to find a lot more outdoor oriented themes and/or products, whereas in other regions of the country home decor products might be more prevalent. 

Third: we are very lucky to have a true sense of community here. In Glenwood Springs, when businesses were getting to re-open after Covid, there were some small businesses that weren't quite ready. The whole town got together and decided to wait an extra week to let those businesses get up and running again. Of course there is competitiveness here too, but there's also a real desire for these towns to survive. I think a lot of the mountain areas, and a lot of resort towns, truly want people to feel comfortable and feel at home, so they work together to create and keep that welcoming feeling.

Socks from Atomic Child, a line represented by the Long Sales Group.

How is the souvenir business evolving in the Rocky Mountain region?

The word souvenir bothers me. We’re in the business of selling memories and warm feelings. When someone visits a resort in the Mountain Region, they don't have to buy anything, but they might if they find something that embodies the happy memories of the trip they’re on. Selling memories makes a store “Amazon proof” because if you see a winter jacket in Vail, you might be able to go online and find that same jacket, but it won’t have the Vail logo on it.. So I think we’re embracing the mindset that the products we offer have to help people look back on a trip fondly. This especially true now as money has become a bit tighter for folks. People right now don’t always want the most expensive thing. They’re interested in things of quality so that they remain memories for a long time.

What’s your advice for any buyer who is new to the Rocky Mountain Show?

Before you come to the show, really look at your store and figure out how much space you have for different things. It’s really easy to go to a show and see a beautiful display, with professional lighting and go, “Oh, that's really really nice!” and then buy all this merchandise. But if you don’t have a plan - if you don’t ask yourself, “How will this work in my location?” then you might get stuck with products that won’t sell.

T-Shirts, coolers, and socks from Atomic Child.

What challenges do we need to overcome in the new year?

As we move into an election year, everybody gets nervous about everything. I keep impressing upon the idea of doing business with local people and businesses because they don’t have an interest in selling to you one time. They want to help you build the foundation at your store so it will be successful. And ideally they don't pressure you to buy everything at once, but let you do reorders so you can find out what works in your store without putting in a huge order for things you have no idea if they’ll sell or not. That’s the sign of a seller who wants to start a relationship with you.

What’s your theme for 2024?

Resilience. Last year was one of the tougher years we've been through in this region—we just didn’t have cooperative weather, especially around Memorial Day and Spring Break. I think we just need to sit back and realize, okay, we made it through last year, we can't have that weather twice, and we’ve got a fresh new slate to start with.


Will we see you at the next Rocky Mountain Show?

A sign advertising the next Rocky Mountain Show, August 21-23, 2024 in Denver, CO

Year-over-year The Rocky Mountain Apparel, Gift, & Resort Show continues to grow in terms of number of exhibitors and attendees.

If you want to showcase your brand, or if you're looking for something new to feature in your gift store, be sure to check back regularly for information about our upcoming expos!

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