Dallas' boutique mart continues to expand.

December 2006
Dallas' boutique mart continues to expand.

By Holly Haber


DALLAS – Fashion Industry Gallery is heading into 2007 with a three-pronged strategy for growth.


The boutique mart will add more permanent showrooms, launch a buyer outreach campaign and aim to diversify its merchandise categories in the first half, according to director Shelli Mers.


Five new permanent showrooms will be unveiled at market next month in response to demand, Mers said. The 1,100-square-foot spaces line up along the windows on the second floor, giving them views of Beck Park.


Though leases aren't finalized yet, True Religion is one of the companies looking for a permanent spot at FIG, Mers said. The rest of the second level will remain dedicated to the Shop temporary show.


A new push to attract buyers is another priority for Men, who joined FIG in September, following a three-year stint leasing contemporary and bridge space at FashionCenterDallas.


"We'll do more advertising this year and buyer outreach through e-mail blasts, a phone campaign and some travel," Mers said "We'll focus on high-end stores in the Southeast and Midwest"


FIG also is looking into expanding its category mix, which has been dominated by contemporary resources with a bit of bridge since it opened in January 2004.


"I want to expand bridge and better and contemporary men's," Mers said. "Everyone is enjoying lifestyle shopping, and we may possibly bring in high-end home or decorative or gifts. We want to be very selective about the lines. We've had a lot of interest

from several different categories in showing in our venue, and that seems to be how the

buyers are shopping."


FIG is adopting a Saturday-to-Tuesday date pattern for its markets next year – a  one-day difference from markets at nearby FashionCenterDallas, which will start on Sundays.


"More than half of our tenants are from Los Angeles, and three of the markets in '07 back up to L.A., and there was no way for them to move their product in time," Mers Explained.


Buyer response to the change from the former Thursday-to-Saturday schedule has been mixed, she said. "We definitely have been on the phone calling people to make sure they are aware of specific dates, so we'll see," she said.

One thing that won't change next year is the biannual FIG Finale, an opportunity for tenants and select better stores to clear out merchandise to the public. Started in

February, FIG Finale has been a big success, drawing 30 stores and 2,000 customers in August The lure for shoppers is that all merchandise is discounted 75 percent off the retail tag.


Mers thinks there could be as many as 50 retailers participating in February, and she plans to advertise the sale in local magazines to draw more traffic.


Little touches that give FIG its unique character also will persist, like the homemade cookies, puddings and cocktails that roving staffers hand out to buyers and exhibitors in the afternoons during market. Seven or eight interns dressed in clothing and jewelry from the building will continue to be at each market to greet visitors and run errands.


"Our interns, the 'FIGlets,' as we like to call them, are something the buyers and exhibitors enjoy," Mers said.