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Exhibitors, attendees call Vegas event a ‘win | FURNTR
Exhibitors, attendees call Vegas event a ‘win

LAS VEGAS — One of the oldest furniture market cliches was repeated often at the recent Las Vegas Market, and with good reason.

No, attendance wasn’t great — roughly 40% of pre-pandemic levels — but it was substantially better than the last Las Vegas market in August and substantially better than many exhibitors expected.

And yes, those who did go to the market were there to buy. There were no tire kickers.

“Those who came were not here for the frequent flyer miles,” quipped John DeFalco, executive vice president of sales and marketing at full-line furniture resource Primo International.

DeFalco and other exhibitors said buyers ventured to Las Vegas simply because they needed inventory. And with supply chains choked by everything from foam allocations to shortages of ocean shipping containers, exhibitors who had inventory ready to ship had the upper hand.

“We’re selling everything we can,” said Mike Genrich, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Furniture of America. “I wasn’t expecting us to be very busy, but we had a constant flow of traffic.”

‘Back-to-business’ market

Most exhibitors said the majority of buyers were from Western and Southwestern states. However, officials with market owner International Market Centers said buyers from all 50 states showed up, and there was even a handful of international buyers.

“This felt more like a back-to-business market,” said Dorothy Belshaw, chief marketing and customer officer at IMC. “Our buyer attendance had tripled the (August 2020 market) by the end of the second day.”

IMC CEO Bob Maricich said momentum began to build during the two weeks leading up to market and added he was amazed at the number of buyers who decided to attend only a day or two before the show began.

“There’s just an unprecedented desire to get in front of people face-to-face,” he said. “There was almost an exuberance of being back. I heard many people say the last thing they needed was another Zoom meeting.”

Maricich said the market may provide a blueprint on how to run trade shows in other parts of the country, noting the extensive safety protocols — notably a mask-wearing requirement anywhere on the World Market Center campus — appeared to make attendees feel comfortable about being there.

“We may well be the first significant trade show in the country. We’re certainly the first in Las Vegas,” he said, noting the extensive coverage the show received from the city’s television stations and newspapers.

Exhibitors who did open their doors (roughly 85% were open vs. less than 50% last August) indicated they were happy with their decision, and the relatively few who has extensive new product rollouts were especially pleased.

“People are always going to need to see new product if they want to build up their sales, and I think that’s one of the reasons we were so busy,” said Caroline Hipple, president of custom upholstery producer Norwalk, whose introductions included everything from a chair lineup with performance leather covers to an expansion of its licensed Kim Salmela collection. “We haven’t stood still during the pandemic.”

Bedding performs well

Executives at specialty bedding producers MLily and Ghostbed were very pleased with the reception to their respective product launches, as was upper-end specialist Shifman Mattress and West Coast-based bedding producer E.S. Kluft & Co., who rolled out new product for all three of its brands: Kluft, Aireloom and Marshall Mattress.

“The business is still very strong, … and we’ve had open house tours at our factories for those who didn’t come to market,” said Magali Castillo, vice president of marketing at E.S. Kluft. “But we still had 25 to 30 good appointments here, so we’re pretty happy with the results.”

Stephen Chen, president of MLily USA, was especially pleased with the reception to the company’s new kids bedding line, and he said the company landed a number of key product placements at market.

“We had a good, continuous flow of customers,” said Chen. “They were here looking for product. Now that (consumers) are starting to get out more, our dealers know they are going to need more.”

Ghostbed, heretofore an online-only bedding resource, enjoyed success with its first product line for brick-and-mortar retailers. Backed by the company’s $50 million annual advertising and marketing effort, the company said the new products will begin showing up on retail floors shortly.

“We had some great appointments with key retailers who are interested in becoming part of our distribution network,” said Alan Hirschhorn, executive vice president of sales. “I still think people like to get out and shop, and they’re ready because we’ve all been home way too long.”

Other bedding producers reporting good traffic flow included Southerland, who saw continuing success with a hybrid mattress line launched earlier this year, and the Specialty Sleep Assn., whose expansive space had five booths that were staffed by vendors and nine other booths whose occupants set up displays but opted to give visiting buyers a virtual tour.

The Las Vegas winter market is typically the scene of dozens of bedding industry product launches, but with the “winter” market being postponed until April, many producers opted to unveil products long before the show began.

An eye for all categories

On the case goods front, exhibitors said dining room was an especially popular category, as was entertainment furniture and accent pieces such as decorative tables. In addition, bedroom was seeing a bit of a revival at resources such as AICO and Legends Furniture.

“We’re writing some good orders, and we’re glad we’re here,” said David Koehler, vice president of sales at AICO. “We expect business to continue to be strong throughout the year because people are starting to see a light at the end of the (pandemic) tunnel.”

Tim Donk, director of marketing and business development at Legends, said buyers especially liked the company’s lineup of domestically product entertainment centers, in which each style is available in 60- and 80-inch sizes.

“We had more buyers than we expected. Even a few were on our showroom on Saturday (the day before the market officially opened),” Donk said. “It was mostly West Coast customers, but we saw people from other parts of the country, too.”

Dining room was a popular category for resources such as Coast To Coast Accents, while outdoor furniture sales continued to be brisk late into the normal selling season at resources such as Zuo Modern.

“It’s the hottest category we have right now,” Zuo CEO Luis Ruesga said of outdoor furniture. “The outdoor (selling) season started late last year and has never ended.”

David MacIntosh, chief administrative officer at Coast To Coast, said casual dining continues to be a top seller, despite supply chain woes that have beset the company, along with everybody else in the home furnishings industry.

“We had good traffic throughout the show, predominately West Coast people,” he said.

Executives at upholstery and accent furniture resources Modway and Moe’s Home Collection said their showrooms had brisk traffic, especially from buyers from small and mid-sized stores who were in immediate need of inventory.

“Although our upholstery is doing really well, all our categories remain strong,” said Seth King, vice president of sales at Moe’s. “Most of our customers told us they hadn’t been to a market in about a year, so they were pretty happy with what they saw.”

Justin Lipschik, vice president of operations and sales at Modway, said the company’s modular sofas and armchairs were especially popular at market because most are available in multiple color options. But like many other exhibitors, he said business across all categories remains brisk and there are no signs of a slowdown.

“Even though there are not as many people here (as before the pandemic), they are eager to buy,” Lipschik said.

News Author : Çetin KAYA

380 viewed times. / 25-04-2021 added.

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