Patrick Davis was among about 200 tenants that had to leave Denver Mart when it closed last year.
The facility off I-25 in Adams County, which is slated to be redeveloped, was home to an eclectic set of wholesalers, peddling everything from Western wear to jewelry. But a large contingent of the firms specialized in outdoor gear, including Green River Sales, where Davis works.
“The Mart was many things, but it was a place that was affordable, and that was where we kind of housed ourselves,” Davis said. “(The closure) forced our outdoor group to reevaluate, like how do we go forward?”
Davis said he and his fellow wholesalers had two options. They could either go back to traveling more and doing regional trade shows, or they could try to recreate a modified version of the Mart somewhere else.
A year later, Davis and 25 other agencies are operating in Lakewood in a new facility opened by Thrive Workplace.
Denver-based Thrive is a coworking company. Its existing locations, in Cherry Creek and Ballpark, and Centennial and Arvada, cater to traditional office users. But the company’s 33,000-square-foot facility at 11111 6th Ave., where Davis and others now operate, is something different.
“This is a good example of how you bring that typical coworking (business model) into a different market,” said Charles Johnson, who co-founded Thrive with his brother Chad.
At the Lakewood location, Davis and other wholesalers have individual showrooms, where retail store representatives can stop in and place orders, kind of like an exclusive mall for buying in bulk.
The 26 units range from 400 to 2,000 square feet. Each has a large bay window looking out of the warehouse, on which many companies have begun emblazoning the logo of their company and the brands they represent. Tenants have access to shared amenities and spaces such as vinyl cutting machines and a loading dock.
The location, which is not open to the public, is known as Thrive OMA. That’s because the wholesalers also formed an entity called the Outdoor Mountain Associates, to which they pay dues. That money can be used for things such as advocating on behalf of outdoor industry jobs, Davis said.
Axel Geittmann, a sales agent with Superfluent, said having a nonprofit association helps build trust among the wholesalers and retailers.
“If we’re transparent and candid and speak to the nonprofit side of that, even though we’re all for-profit businesses, we have this North Star that we’re aligned on that (helps us) do better for our community, for our retailers, for the economy in Colorado,” Geittmann said.
The showroom setup mirrors that of Denver Mart. But unlike the wholesalers’ previous home, the facility won’t also be used to host dozens of conventions and other large events each year.
Davis said companies like his don’t need that.
“What became really clear was that the outdoor industry is so much different than what was happening at the Mart,” Davis said. “In the outdoor industry, we are very protective of who gets to carry (our products). So, having 10,000 people walking by your booth is not as useful as curating the retailers that are out there.”
Johnson said Thrive found out about both the space in Lakewood and the displaced wholesalers from past business relationships. The company signed a master lease for the building in mid-May, and the wholesale tenants started moving in just before Christmas.
The space is full. Johnson said Thrive is considering leasing 30,000 square feet of adjacent space to expand the concept.
“(The wholesalers) were the ones that kind of put everything together, and just us being in our spot we were able to kind of take advantage of it,” Johnson said.