began attending city-held outreach meetings and
presentations. In 2012, Hailemariam opened a cart
to sell fashion jewelry as part of the RMU program.
Less than one year later, she has become a 40 percent
partner in the new Wetzel’s Pretzels venture.
Montoya, who, along with LS Travel Retail, will
operate Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs, currently operates
an RMU location called Team Sports on the B
Concourse. The operation features NFL, NBA and
Montoya, who has a 40 percent stake in the new
gourmet hot dog company, said the RMU program
gave him a leg up.
“For a small, minority business owner, Denver
International Airport’s RMU program provided an
unprecedented opportunity to become an airport
concessionaire at the very lowest barrier to entry,”
Montoya said. “As an RMU operator, I was able
learn from airport business leaders and from other
concessionaires about how to do business at the
airport. It was an invaluable starting point to
partner on a full-scale concession.”
Airport CCO Ackerman said the goal of the
program is to provide just that kind of launching
platform for entrepreneurs.
“We really wanted the cart and kiosk program
to provide a place where small business owners
could learn how to operate in the airport
environment,” Ackerman explained. “The fact that
these two operators transitioned so quickly into
full-scale operators is a testament to the fact that
the program works exactly as we intended.”
The RMU program itself was born out of lessons
learned though the airport’s Terminal Marketplace
concept that was launched in 2008. That program
brought the airport together with the Denver Office
of Economic Development to invest $1.5 million in
developing three turn-key spaces on level five of
the Jeppesen Terminal.
as part of
“The Marketplace was designed to help small
businesses learn the ins and outs of airport
concessions, and eventually compete for larger
spaces on the concourses,” Ackerman said.
In filling the spaces, the airport looked to
provide opportunities specifically to minority-and women-owned businesses, and selected three
operators that were certified under the ACDBE
program: Amore Fiori Flowers & Gifts Shop,
Cof Tea Shop and Vertical Mile Market.
Through the airport’s RFP process, the owner
of Vertical Mile Market subsequently won two
locations for Bella, a high-end cosmetic and
personal care concession, as well as a third
location for Tuleh Ruche, a high-end women’s
fashion and accessory store that will open this
summer. In 2012, Cof TeaShop generated $513,158,
11. 5 percent more than the previous year. The
shop sells a selection of cookies, muffins and other
sweets made with organic ingredients, as well as
coffee and tea.
Amore Fiori Flowers & Gifts Shop, meanwhile,
generated $318,722 in revenue last year — about
10 percent more than the previous year. That
location sells merchandise ranging from vintage-style hats to boutique-style perfumes and toiletries.
The Vertical Mile Market, which offers
an assortment of pre-packaged snack items,
generated $759,164 in 2012, about 1.3 percent
more than in 2011.
“Taken together, the Terminal Marketplace and
the RMU programs have provided a launching
pad for small business owners and minorities who
might not otherwise be able to compete at the
airport,” Ackerman said. “We are incredibly proud
to be able to provide these opportunities.” A
Heath Montgomery is Denver International’s media relations
director. He may be reached at Heath.Montgomery@flydenver.com.