August 2011

C2 Diary: To Market, To Market - CH2 goes Shopping with Dennis and Chuck from Palmettoes

Author: Maggie Washo | Photographer: Kelly Stroud & Krisztian Lonyai / Hair and Make-up by Roman Hill

If you take anything away from this weekend, it should be how important relationships are in business,” said Dennis as we walked out of The Mart in Atlanta. “Relationships with your clients, obviously, but also with your vendors.”
“What I am taking away from this weekend is how much I want to be Dennis Jaworski,” I thought.

Let me back up. Seven months ago, Dennis Jaworski and Chuck Hall, co-owners of Palmettoes in Sea Pines Center had an idea. Or rather, they passed on an idea from one of their favorite customers. Jerry Bowes wanted to read a story in a local magazine about the process of “going to market.” Going to market is a long weekend every eight weeks when shop owners travel to Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Charlotte and New York City to buy apparel for their stores.

CH2 got to tag along on this particular trip to Atlanta in the beginning of June. Kelly Stroud and I packed up the car for a long weekend of shopping and dining in Atlanta, Georgia.

After checking into our hotel, Kelly and I headed to Midtown to meet the guys at Baraonda. Over martinis, Chuck filled us in on what to expect. “Wear comfortable shoes. We are going to be on our feet all day. You will be completely overwhelmed by how much there is to look at and buy.” That was an understatement, but I’ll get to that later.

Dennis explained that we would be spending most of the day in the Ambrosia Showroom, owned by Brad Johnson and his wife Lynda Ambrosia. “After several years in the business, you develop a sense for what your customers like, and most of the lines featured at Ambrosia are popular at Palmettoes,” Dennis said.

The next morning we heeded Chuck’s advice and dressed for comfort. As we walked through a maze of what I think was the Westin (but I am still not quite sure!), we got the lowdown on the four different markets Atlanta plays host to throughout the year: Apparel, Home, Area Rug and Gift. “This is just women’s apparel,” Dennis explained. “We go to Charlotte and Las Vegas for men’s clothing every February and August.”

After getting signed in as official buyer guests, we proceeded to the elevator. I was in awe of the sheer size of this building and the amount of clothing, shoes, jewelry and bags it housed. The glass elevators gave you the first breathtaking view of 13 floors with thousands upon thousands of different clothing lines on display.


-Lucy can’t wait for her spa weekend at Brooke’s Bed & Biscuit.

-Packed and ready to go!

-We did have a chance to visit the largest aquarium in the world while we were in town. Pretty cool shot, eh?

-Only the best for my car. El Cheapo. Classy.

-Welcome to Atlanta!

-And we think traffic is bad on the island.

-Dennis and Chuck check us in at the front desk of the market.

-Kelly has her official badge and we are ready to go!

-Thirteen floors full of every imaginable item for women. I think this might be what heaven looks like.

-Fashion shows are held on the runway below at different times throughout the weekend.

-Dennis gets a big hug from Beth Teplitz, the sales executive for the Muse clothing line. Muse is one of the many lines under the Maggy London umbrella.

-We spent most of the day in the Ambrosia Showroom, which was showing 42 different lines on the day we were there.

-Christian Lynch displays the Anthracite line. All of the clothing (from each line) is brought out on display for the buyer in groups of about four to six pieces. The buyers make their “first round draft picks”; those pieces are put to the side and the next round comes out. This is done in succession until the line has been completely shown. When finished, all selections are hung out in front of the buyer and they cull the group one last time.

-Striking a pose with Lynda Ambrosia, who owns the Ambrosia showroom with her husband Brad Johnson. The showroom opened in 1992.

-Cynthia Amaro shows of the Suzi Chin line. Suzi Chin is a sophisticated urban line, also in the Maggy London portfolio. See the dresses Dennis purchased for fall on the previous pages! Cynthia rush shipped them to us from NYC for our photo shoot.

-Jeff thanks Dennis for the order from the Donna Morgan collection.

-A quick break for a “photo op” above the city. Kelly and I look so official with those badges.

-Dennis points out some of Atlanta’s landmarks. Because the guys are in Atlanta so often to buy for the store, they decided to buy an apartment in Midtown. Which makes them part-time residents and GREAT tour guides.

-Brad Johnson, co-owner of the Ambrosia Showroom. He really didn’t want his photo taken, but I got him!

-The sparkling holiday collection from Britt Ryan. One of the terms we kept hearing over and over was “Ten-Thirty Complete.” This is the date (October 30th) that the whole order is expected to be in your store. If it doesn’t arrive by then, the store owner can return the whole line with no financial obligations. Can you say DEADLINE? One day late and the sales person/ designer could lose the whole order!

-We scope out the fall line from Workers for Freedom. Sales executive Richard Cocheri, told us that the wide leg pant was coming back into the line in spring 2012, and it “scared him to death.” I was kind of glad to hear it, because I’ve always been too short to sport the skinny pants/ jeans that have been all the rage over the last few years.

-Many of the samples that were displayed for purchase come in a variety of different colors, hence, the color swatch. Usually only one sample is made, and the sales person has to relay which other colors are also available.

-I model a cape from The Workers for Freedom Collection for Dennis and Chuck. It got two thumbs down. I hope it wasn’t my fault!

-Chuck and Dennis check out the fabric on one of the Julia Jordan dresses. Sometimes they totally disagree on an item to be purchased for Palmettoes. So then what happens? Sometimes the salesperson is the tie-breaker with information about how well (or poorly) the item is selling at other shows. More often than not though, they have the task of talking each other into (or out of) the particular dress or jacket. And sometimes they just sneak it into the order when the other one isn’t looking.

Sexy five inch heels. Now we are talking.

-As a rule, the guys at Palmettoes only order three of each item purchased. That way, you won’t see someone else on the island walk into the room with your dress on. Or as Chuck so perfectly put it, “We aren’t a museum. If you like it, you better buy it now, because it won’t be here long.”

-Yes. There may have been men’s shoes there as well, but honestly I didn’t remember until I saw this photograph.

-The last showroom of the day with Levi. Chuck was in search of some white shirts for the rest of the summer.

-Kelly wanted to take this one home with her. Unfortunately there were too many people watching for us to sneak it out. Just kidding.

-And the long day comes to a finish—time for dinner and cocktails!

-We had the best dinner at Chops. The smallest steak you can order looks like the one Fred Flintstone ordered at the drive-though.

-After experiencing “going to market” with Chuck and Dennis, I decided I wanted to be a clothing store owner. Well, not exactly, because it is hard work, and long hours. What I do want is to go on shopping excursions with them every eight weeks. Kelly and I had such a wonderful weekend with the Palmettoes guys that we decided we are all going to St. Barths next month. For work, of course!

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