David Gibson and his wife, Suzanne, have been in the retail business for 29 years.
David Gibson and his wife, Suzanne, have been in the retail business for 29 years.

The Greenbrier in White Sulpher Springs, W.Va., and The Broadmoor share many similarities. They’re both world-renowned luxury resort hotels, serving the same types of clientele, conference and vacation guests.

And, both tout high-end amenities, dining, recreation and services.

So when David and Suzanne Gibson decided to expand their business with a second location, The Broadmoor became their first choice.

The owners of Gibson’s, a gallery that specializes in mineral, stone, jewelry and artwork, have operated their initial store for 29 years inside The Greenbrier.

Their first visit to The Broadmoor was 10 years ago, when they made the trip here to give a presentation at a convention. The idea of expansion stuck in their minds, until an opportunity arose this year.

“I approached (Broadmoor President and CEO) Steve Bartolin with our idea and he was kind enough to offer us this splendid location,” David said.

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On May 8, the Gibson’s newest gallery opened just north of the main entrance to the hotel. It has an exterior entrance and occupies 1,000 square feet near the front circular drive.

“We make everything from earrings to dining room tables, using metal and stone,” David said. “We work in conjunction with artists from the Virginia and West Virginia region and they are some of the most skilled artist-blacksmiths in the U.S.”

Stone tables, ponds, sculptures and mineral specimens fill much of the floor space, while fine jewelry and original paintings hang from shelves and walls.

“Our traditional look at the Greenbrier uses these minerals and fossils in conjunction with fine paintings,” David said

The Gibsons’ newest store isn’t a replica of The Greenbrier location, however.

“Because of our location in the Allegheny Mountains, we’ve tended to show eastern landscapes and traditional realism at The Greenbrier store, but our store here will give us the chance to showcase more Western-themed art,” David said.

Despite the struggling economy, Gibson said the timing was right for expansion.

“I’m not ashamed to admit, this new enterprise involves serious risk,” David said. “But, not enough to discourage us from taking advantage of a nice opportunity at The Broadmoor. We’ve come into this with almost 30 years of experience and we’ve applied what we’ve learned over the years into the design of this gallery.”

He said he believes that economic conditions are largely psychological.

“To the degree that you are an optimist, you improve the mood of not only the merchant, but of the potential buyer,” David said. “Suzanne and I feel it is important not to get dragged down by an unfortunate cycle.”

Shedding inventories

Wholesale inventories fell for the seventh straight month during March, according to a Commerce Department report.

Wholesale inventories dropped 1.6 percent, following a 1.7 percent fall during February. Wholesalers also watched sales fall 2.4 percent. The ratio of inventories to sales rose from 1.12 to 1.32, meaning it would take 1.32 months to exhaust inventories at the March sales pace.

Wholesale inventories are goods held by distributors who buy from manufacturers and sell to retailers. Economists said the drop in stockpiles means that retailers are bringing their inventories more in line with sales, and that a rise in consumer demand will entice manufacturers to increase production.

Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of total U.S. economic activity, fell significantly during the second half of 2008, but rose during the first quarter of 2009, a positive sign that supports economists’ estimates that a recovery could occur during the last half of the year.

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, reported a 5.9 percent jump in same-store sales for April and a 3.6 percent climb during the March-April time frame, figures that exceeded the company’s expectations.

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.


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