Michael Gordon Ltd. moves to Spokane Industrial Park

Garden decor wholesaler leaves retail space behind, takes industrial location

By Rocky Wilson
Spokane Journal of Business

Michael Gordon Ltd., a Spokane Valley distributor of garden decor such as statues and fountains, has moved its head quarters to the Spokane Business & Industrial Park from its previous location in Argonne Village.

The company decided to move to an industrial setting because it does only a small amount of retail sales and didn’t need a storefront location any longer, says Natalie Smith, director of sales.

The 12-year-old company, which currently employs nine people, moved this month from about 7,000 square feet of leased space at 9211 E. Montgomery into about 7,500 square feet of space it’s now leasing in Building 8 of the industrial park, at 3808 N. Sullivan, Smith says.

“The primary reason for the move was to better position the business for wholesale and Internet shipping,” says Smith. “Wholesale is our primary business, and this site is more conducive to wholesale shipping.”

About half of the products sold by Michael Gordon, including all of its statues, are manufactured at a plant the company owns in southern China, Smith says. Michael Gordon contracts primarily with other manufacturers in China, plus some in the U.S. to make the remainder of its product line.

“All we do in Spokane is warehouse and ship out our products,” she says. “We do no manufacturing here. We market primarily to retailers such as garden centers and gift stores, and the majority of our business is done in the U.S.”

The company found a niche in the garden decor market several years ago when it began casting statues and other pieces with a resin and marble-dust substance called Polystone, says Smith. She says products made of Polystone are lighter and less expensive than pieces made from concrete or bronze, and are weather resistant. The wholesale prices of Polystone pieces sold by Michael Gordon, which vary greatly in size and shape, normally are between $10 and $150, she says.

Currently, Smith says, about 50 percent of the company’s revenues are generated by the sale of Polystone pieces, and the remaining 50 percent come from metal products, including the company’s stainless-steel gazing globes which normally range in size from two inches in diameter to 22 inches in diameter, with special orders taken for seven-foot-diameter globes. Wholesale prices on those pieces can range from $3 for a two-inch globe to $4,600 for the largest, special-order globe, says Smith.

She says that the company, which employed as many as 23 people in in 2001, is still rebounding from the economic slowdown that hit following the terrorist attacks that fall.

Although it hasn’t yet reached revenue figures achieved before those events, Smith says, “Business was much better last year, and we hope to see it continuing to grow. We’ve seen improvement in the economy and the gardening industry that’s affecting our business positively.”

While operating on Montgomery, Michael Gordon featured a retail storefront called Home Garden Gift, with the company’s warehouse and office space located behind that shop.

Smith says Michael Gordon will no longer operate a retail store, but will conduct periodic “dock sales” at the new location in the industrial park for overstocked, discontinued, and returned products.

Most of Michael Gordon’s sales are generated through a catalog it distributes and via the Internet, says Smith.