Brass Armadillo Creating Bright Future for Antique Industry

IMG_2957By Jon DeStefano

The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Denver is located where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountains in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Home to more than 600 of Denver’s finest antique and collectibles dealers, where they showcase some of the most sought after High Country items in the world.

Brass Aramadillo has a lot of exciting things going on but none more important than General Manager Scott Gottula’s great efforts to bring antique dealers into the 21st century and revolutionize the antique industry.

Recently Scott attended the annual meeting of the Antique Industry Council. He was invited as a representative of front line antique industry people, the folks who work with many dealers and customers on a grassroots basis. The Council is an assembly of high end nationally renowned dealers,show promoters and auction houses. Scott represented the entry level antique dealers. “Many people who enter the antique business start in places like Brass Armadillo, where a person can enter and see if they have a knack for the business, it is basically a four week commitment. They are coming from doing garage sales, small shows and trying to take it up a level. We specialize on people beginning in the industry and we take them to higher levels,” he continues.

Scott adheres to a simple but unique principle, “Our venue is so unique, our ability to sell items regardless of price is only limited by our own imagination.”

“In fact,” he explains, “Five years ago we started a social networking/classified site called iantique.com which has been very successful. I found that by embracing the fact that we are not just an antique mall but a community of dealers and collectors who have come together for the cause of celebrating vintage, retro and all antique items.”

This is when store manager Gottula assembled a team, brought that concept online and it became very successful primarily because Scott believed in it and put more time into it. They have several shows which they air on a weekly basis. They have Gary Stober, a very knowledgeable dealer who does art, antiques and a menagerie of things including marketing items in various markets, back east, as well as here and other places. He opens up many markets for Brass Armadillo dealers.

Brass Armadillo has over 600 dealers in their 45,000 square foot facility. They have all different kinds of dealers from the hobbyist who is doing it for a little side money, to the collector who is building a collection and of course the professional grade dealer who makes up a
little less than 25% of their dealers.

“Our dealers are doing pretty well,” he explains, “I like to say you get out of the BA what you put into it. If you run a booth or a case and you set it up and don’t pay attention to it for a couple of months you are not going to do as well as the person who comes in once a week or is tending to it on a daily basis.”

As a business, Scott’s father, Larry Gottula and his partner started Brass Armadillo as a storefront mall in a distressed shopping center in Demoyne, Iowa in 1992. In September of 1994 they opened their first store in Omaha, Nebraska built from the ground up and is based on the same model you see in Denver but a little smaller, it’s 30,000 square feet.

They opened a Phoenix Brass Armadillo in 1997 and started construction of the Kansas City store which is 10 miles east of Arrowhead Stadium and opened for business at the end of the year.
A year later in 1998 Scott followed one of his mentors to Colorado,Larry Gibson. “I learned an awful lot from him,” said Scott, ” what to do and what not to do. Dealers really looked up to him.”

“We started construction in Colorado summer of 1998 and then finished it the last week of December. We started business in January 1999 and had our grand opening in March.”

For the future Scott is planning to go to Disney college where they have a great program devoted to learning branding. He says that Brass Armadillo is a known brand in the antique business.

“There was a piece in a Phoenix paper about a guy who downsized from a 60,000 square foot building to a 6,000 foot building,” continues Scott. “The article was riddled with his negativity about how baby boomers aren’t buying anymore and how millenials don’t buy antiques, and I think that is a false perception and sometime perception dictates your reality and it becomes real for you. I have more millenials as customers than anything, they are people born in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. “The millenials make up a good chunk of my customer base and I still have a bunch of baby boomers, also I have everything in between. That negativity about the future of the antique industry is wrong.”

“We believe as we move further into the 21st century, we must invest in the future of this industry.
We are investing in apps, we built a listing app and we are finding it is working for our people.
We have dealers who either come to us to list it for them and many are taking the time to learn how to put it on the listing app use it and it’s working for them. They list what they have in the mall it’s not like an auction it is like a classified ad. We get it on iantique and cross list it in a number of other things like Craig’s list or eBay classifieds. If people are looking for something specific they type it into a search engine and we’re popping up, it’s more business for our people.

“We’re getting great results and we can track it and it is 15% to 40% of our sales in some months. We had a gentleman who purchased some of our goods from overseas and it opens up your markets by quite a bit because everyone on the planet can now shop in you store.”

“Another thing we will use the listing app to make a dealer’s inventory bar code accessible.
The app could eventually load their inventory right into our register. It is exciting that together the community could make this happen and give all of us really great inventory control. ”

“We also have a social app through iantique so that all the things you can do on your computer you can also do from your iPad or phone or any mobile device They can read blogs, participate in forums, go to Q and A to ask questions or watch a video. We do extensive videos every week, a lot of them are very informational, valuable online. We also have a twice a month coffee club going on, Dixie Kilborn and Charlie Klingman several years ago began it without their being a plan. It has worked out great.

“We have different people come in and put those on, the Questors club helps set those up, it is
an organization of antique collectors and enthusiasts. They do a nice job of arranging great presentations every two weeks.They give a little talk, we record them and post,them on iantiques and there is a lot of activity going on, activity breeds activity.”

“Brass Aramadillo has become the bridge it is my intention to stay that way,” states Scott. “The best person we’ve heard on this is a fellow by the name of Jay Bear. He developed this concept he call “youtility”. He is talking about how useful can you become to your customer, giving informating is the key. In that spirit we started a website that will be linked to our Brass Aramadillo website called BAAM,BAM BrassArmadilloAntiqueMall.BAM.

Scott sums it all up, “I believe the antique industry will survive the 21st .century and the 22nd century because of good positive people, who know how to do the business, they are people like us, who are showing people how to be the bridge.”

Thanks to Scott Gottula Brass Armadillo is a brand and an industry standard.

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