New 40,000 sf ‘SHOW T.O.’ Facility to House Wholesale Distributors in Mississauga: Interview

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Eight retail wholesale distributors are coming together in one building with permanent showrooms open year-round in Toronto to showcase their home and gift merchandise.

The collection, of Canada’s most renowned and best-in-class suppliers, will open this unique concept this summer as SHOW T.O. in 40,000 square feet of space at the International Centre at 6900 Airport Road in Mississauga.

Cesar Gomes, of Torre & Tagus Designs, which is one of the eight wholesale distributors, said “for companies like ourselves that are based out West, having a permanent showroom in the biggest market in Canada is a bold commitment to our customers that we are there for them, not only at tradeshows, but open all year round.”

The eight initially opening in the permanent showrooms are: Abbott, Auralim, Canadian Gift Concept, David Youngson & Associates, Edenborough, Group One Associates, North American Country Home, and Torre & Tagus.

Gomes, whose company is a wholesale distributor of home accessories, giftware and home furnishings based in Vancouver since 1993, said the company supplies stores such as Simons, HBC, Linen Chest and small boutiques.

“Essentially there’s a lot of small, medium and large size businesses, and they all sell products into retail. Like every business there’s trade shows that exist and generally the trade shows are in the major areas in Canada. At one point, there was a lot of regional shows. So you’d have one in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and the Maritimes, Montreal. Over the years, they’ve kind of centralized and now in our industry there’s really only one in Edmonton and another one in Toronto,” said Gomes. “In the US, they’re in major centres as well and oftentimes what happens during those selling markets, in the US because this model doesn’t exist in Canada, there’s permanent showroom buildings and in those showroom buildings they open them up as well obviously to take advantage of people coming to the market.

Image: Show T.O.

“In Canada, one thing COVID has sort of illustrated is that when you can’t have traffic and congregations then you’re really losing your trade show opportunity but if you had a showroom, and we realized that from having a showroom here in Vancouver and we have one in Vegas and Atlanta, there were still several opportunities where you could have people that were coming in, working socially distanced, you could still get business that way.

“For two and a half years, we haven’t had a show in Canada. It really made us focus. We don’t know how long this is going to go and when there’s going to be another outbreak. So we started talking amongst a bunch of different wholesalers and we wanted to have a showroom in Toronto for years. This isn’t something that just happened now. It’s something we talked about for 20 years.”

Each company is working with its own design firm to showcase its well-established brands. Also, many of these inspiring showrooms will feature hospitality areas that invite customers to recharge.

“We’re excited to be part of a destination for buyers across the country – where they can visit year-round to connect with leading vendors, all in one convenient location,” said Jody Abbott.

“Auralim wants to give retailers access to new products every day of the year, and that requires a permanent showroom. We are going to be there when our reps and customers need us, on their own timetable – exciting times ahead for the gift industry,” said Tom Taylor.

Hall 1 of the International Centre

“Having a permanent showroom allows us to be more creative with merchandising and displays. It also allows us to showcase new brands and product releases added to our roster throughout the year,” said David Youngson.

Gomes said the showroom building coincidentally is near where the industry’s trade show takes place.

“The building itself had old showrooms that were never used or were not leased out with no real focus there. So the exciting thing is we all leased out spaces there and there’s initially eight of us that have taken on these spaces and the landlord is quite excited because they’re now going to start building out some of the other spaces there because they really see that there’s a huge demand,” he said.

He said additional showrooms will open up later in the year and into 2023. 

“This is very exciting for us and to be honest I think it’s going to be a game changer for our industry,” added Gomes. “There is a lot of talk about this already. Since we sent the press release out amongst customers, they’re all very excited about having a one-stop shop where they can go, have an alternative to the trade show which just happens twice a year.

“And I think that’s the biggest win for us is we can have business all year round rather than just relying on the trade show which comes around twice a year.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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