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Urban Expositions Acquires California Gift Show From MMPI

Danica Tormohlen
, Editor-at-Large
June 29, 2012
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By Danica Tormohlen, contributing editor

Atlanta, GA – Urban Expositions has acquired the semi-annual California Gift Show from Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI). Urban Expositions will assume management duties following the July 27- 30 event at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Earlier this year, Urban Expositions announced the launch of The L.A. Gift Show, which was scheduled to be held February 2-5, 2013 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Doug Miller, president of Urban Expositions, told Trade Show Executive that the company will redirect its focus and resources from the launch to expanding and enhancing the existing California Gift Show. “This is really what we wanted from the beginning, but we weren’t able to come to agreement before,” he said.

“Our original plans to launch a new event in Anaheim were grounded in our firm belief that the timing and market conditions were right to pour significant resources into bringing a fresh, vibrant show to the region’s substantial buyer base,” said Miller. “We’ll be able to accomplish this goal much quicker and better serve the overall marketplace by using those same resources to build upon the foundation of the established California Gift Show and the synergistic opportunities that exist with neighboring permanent showroom buildings in Los Angeles.”

Urban Expositions plans to expand the exhibitor base of the California Gift Show, beginning with Winter 2013 show, which is scheduled for January 25-28, 2013. Urban has already announced that the 2013 event will feature nine product categories for the West Coast retail audience. World Style, Jewelry Cash & Carry and Vintage will continue to be a mainstay, and order-writing will be expanded to include Design LA, Handcrafted, Gifts, Personal Style (including Spa), and two new categories -- Outdoor Living and Boardwalk. Outdoor Living will focus on the casual lifestyle unique to Southern California, and Boardwalk will feature souvenir, resort, beach and board sport resources.

“At its height, the California Gift Show covered more than 300,000 net square feet,” said Miller. “Today, it’s probably 80,000 to 100,000 net square feet with 14,000 to 17,000 attendees. But the Southern California market is one of the largest in the country for the gift industry, and we are excited about rebuilding the show.”

Atlanta-based Urban Expositions, which produces 24 shows annually, has grown rapidly through acquisitions and launches over the last several years, despite the economic recession. Last year, the company purchased the Portland Gift Show and West Coast Cash & Carry Shows from Western Exhibitors. Urban Expositions also purchased the San Francisco International Gift Fair and Seattle Gift Show from dmg world media in 2009 and launched the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show in 2007.

The new acquisition is part of the company’s continued Western region growth strategy, according to Miller. “The California Gift Show is a natural expansion for our company, given our presence in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland,” he said. “Since purchasing the San Francisco Gift Fair in 2009, we’ve grown the event by 25%. Gift show attendees aren’t traveling as far as they used to, and we think regional gift market shows are poised for growth.”

Show Director Dirk von Gal will oversee sales efforts for the California Gift Show. He reports to Joan Ulrich, vice president of new business development, who joined Urban last year from MMPI where she was responsible for building revenues for the company’s permanent showroom buildings and trade shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Reach Doug at (678) 370-0320 or

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