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Made in Montana show no-go for now

April 16, 2005View for printing

Business owner Eloise Oviatt said that by March she hadn't heard "one peep" about the Made in Montana show this year, and "it's disappointing."

Last fall, the Montana Department of Commerce withdrew its funding and leadership of the Made in Montana annual trade show. One position on the department staff that was responsible for organizing the show was eliminated, but the Made in Montana product labels are still available.

Usually, businesses wanting to sell at the show had to send in their money by January, Oviatt said. The shows were always so full that if businesses missed the deadline, they went on a waiting list, she said. They were a popular way to market to retailers.

"I usually did really well," Oviatt said. "It was always a great way for them to see me and order."

Oviatt owns Eloise Studio at 2517 Montana Ave. She makes custom tiles by hand and sells them wholesale and retail. Her products are in stores and galleries in Montana as well as outside the state.

Without the show her sales will be hurt. Her plan instead is to contact stores herself and see if they want to reorder. It will not be the same, though, as being able to show her new products in person. At the Made in Montana show, she could refresh buyers' memories and show them her new products, and, standing right there, they would order. But not this year.

"It's a real shame," especially for stores that want to carry Montana products, she said.

By DAVE BURGESS Western Business News

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