In 2005, the San Francisco Mart is celebrating 90 years as the home of the Western home furnishings industry and is commemorating that milestone during Winter Market, which runs Wednesday – Saturday, January 26-29, and throughout the year.
The Mart is proud of its heritage as the home of the Western home furnishings industry since 1915 and appreciates the support of buyers and exhibitors throughout the years. The Mart originated to serve the needs of manufacturers and buyers west of the Rocky Mountains, but has evolved over the years to a national scope. The Mart has served as a venue for manufacturers to show a broad range of merchandise including furniture, upholstery, rugs, lighting, kitchen & bath, gifts, tabletop, toys and even baby buggies. Long-time sales representative and HFRA-Northern California member Joe Giramonte recalls attending Market as a 10-year-old boy with his dad and coming home with a bicycle that had a tube radio on it.
“A large part of our legacy can be attributed to our entrepreneurial spirit and innovative West Coast producers,” says Roseann Carini, the Mart’s general manager. “The Mart is a showcase for inventive new design. Additionally, our buyers appreciate that it is small, friendly, conveniently located and very easy to shop.”
The Mart’s Opening Night Party on January 26 is a 90th Anniversary celebration that buyers and reps won’t want to miss. Sponsored in part by Furniture/Today, all attendees are invited to soak up the atmosphere, eat some great food, and most importantly, enjoy themselves. The Mart will run a retrospective slide show throughout the event and will also have on display a Memory Wall of historical photographs, documents and reflections from those in the industry.
To create the Memory Wall, long-time reps, industry members and former Mart employees are sharing stories of funny times, touching moments or what the Mart means to them. Contributors include Joe Giramonte, sales rep since 1952 and active HFRA member; Joe Carroll, publisher of Furniture/Today; Leonard Rogers, Mart president from 1972-1982; Kenneth Hillier, IHFRA rep for various companies from 1953-1975; Gil Flores, Capel sales representative; and former Mart marketing vice presidents Diane Scheiman, Mark Marinovich and Valerie Pollock.
The most significant “take-away” from these stories is the many friendships that have developed over the years – notably over food and drink. People speak of great business opportunities, sharing drinks in the old “Executive Club”, floor parties, celebrity appearances, as well as a sense of family and dedication. These stories will be on display during the Opening Night Party.
The commemorative events were kicked off at a Rep Appreciation Lunch hosted by the Mart on December 3. Nearly 70 reps, who represented all but the earliest eras at the Mart, gathered for gourmet lunch of New York strip steak with demi glace, salmon with garlic aioli, curry roasted vegetables, mashed potato bar, champagne, cocktails and birthday cake. The Mart also gave away great raffle prizes, including $90 to Zuni Café, $90 to Hayes Street Grill and $250 worth of SF Mart Shipping Department credit, won by Joan Croft, Donna Tremewan and Mickey Koppich respectively. It was an excellent beginning to a year-long celebration of camaraderie and great business relationships.
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