High Attendance Numbers and Aggressive Sales Kick off ‘a Rip-Roaring Start’ to Winter Las Vegas Market
Attendees thrilled with opening day turnout for Market, Gift+Home and VegasKids
AT LAS VEGAS MARKET—January 25, 2011—Winter Las Vegas Market 2011 got off to a robust start as attendance soared and enthusiasm reigned during the first major total home furnishings market of the year January 24-28. The combined forces of Winter Las Vegas Market, Gift+Home and VegasKids attracted more than 150 new-to-market exhibitors, including Barclay Butera, Elite Leather, Ethel & Myrtle, Ganz, Kingsdown, LMS Design Group, Palecek, Ralph Lauren Home Rug Collection, T3 Recovery Mattress from Ironman, The Walt Disney Collection by Furniture Origins, Two’s Company and many more.
Opening day attendance and order-writing was stronger than expected with many World Market Center exhibitors reporting record-breaking sales. By close of day Monday, buyer attendance was up 19 percent over the Summer Market and 7 percent higher than Winter Market a year ago. Market officials reported significant increases in international buyers, designers, and gift retailers.
Robert Maricich, president and chief executive officer of World Market Center Las Vegas was enthusiastic about the attendance numbers and order writing he witnessed on opening day. “We are off to a rip-roaring start,” he said. “We are seeing optimism and I hope that continues with days of order writing,” said Maricich.
The new participants joined 1,200-plus exhibitors at Winter Las Vegas Market January 24-28, including hundreds of permanent showrooms featuring home furnishings and accessories, children’s must-haves and top gift and décor lines.
Maricich said the mood of the day was “let’s play to win.” It’s been a challenging year for the home furnishings industry, and World Market Center Las Vegas was filled with those who came out on top. “Manufacturers and importers have cut their costs to the point that if they have survived thus far in the great recession, they are positioned to grow. I am especially encouraged by the amount of new product introductions in Las Vegas this week,” he said.
Enthusiasm was particularly high among attendees to Gift+Home, Maricich said. “Gifts and home decor is a $300 billion business and recessionary effects are not as pronounced with this sector. Gifts and holiday purchases can’t be postponed, despite economic conditions,” Maricich said.
“The opportunity there is huge, and we offer a compelling platform for gift stores west of the Mississippi. That is being validated by new leases with the best anchor tenants in the gift arena.”
According to Jeff Hiller, owner of Proaction Marketing Group and president of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, retailer confidence is up, and that can only bode well for Market. Hiller discussed the economic outlook during his opening day seminar, stating that the industry will continue to see moderate sales gains through the first half of 2011 due to the lag effect on home sales gains the year before. Hiller quoted a recent Forbes report that said 49 percent of retailers see recovery as an opportunity to grab market share.
“Smart businesses see stabilization in the economy as an opportunity to get ahead,” he said. Hiller went on to offer retailers a road map to a successful year. “The single most important thing to do to improve sales is instill confidence throughout your organization by your actions not just words. It affects the ability of your staff to perform at their best and also influences your customer’s decision. People are drawn to optimism; we all want to do business with winners. Attending markets, flooring new products, and communicating the news with excitement are all part of it.”
Las Vegas Market kicked off with “First Look,” a biannual tradition highlighting trends and new product picks for Market. Celebrity designer Monica Pedersen of HGTV and home products/trends editor Julie Smith Vincenti guided a colorful virtual tour of new introductions at Market, including products from VegasKids and Gift+Home. They showcased dozens of hot-ticket items to be found in Market showrooms, highlighting up-and-coming trends such as natural finishes, bold accents and Pantone Color Institute’s color pick for 2011, honeysuckle.
Across the exhibition floors, buyers and exhibitors were equally enthusiastic.
Gene Lunger, vice president, sales with South Florida-based City Furniture-Ashley HomeStores, said that from a buyer’s perspective, Las Vegas Market is extraordinary. “World Market Center Las Vegas is a fantastic forum for retailers. There is no market I am able to visit where it is possible to accomplish more with such great time efficiency,” he said. “We love to visit Las Vegas. Shopping could not be easier, and there is no destination I can think of that provides the design inspiration that we see on every visit. From the fabulous resort hotels, to the glitz and glamour of the casinos, restaurants and shopping, the design architecture and innovation is tremendous.”
Edward Nader, a buyer and owner of Nader’s Gallery in Shreveport, La., said that his store had an impressive year last year and he was looking forward to finding new and different products to add to his current lines. “We had a great year and we are looking to expand our business. We are here looking for furniture and accessories,” he said. “From the moment we got off the elevator we started seeing great new stuff.”
Ken Siemers, executive vice president with the Wayne, New Jersey-based Russ Berrie said he was impressed not only with traffic but also order writing in the gift arena. “The buyers are buying and not just here to browse,” he said. “Las Vegas offers a different experience for the shopper on and off the property. World Market Center Las Vegas is a comprehensive market with gift, home, lighting, rugs and more. World Market Center was designed for this business. It is a primary stop on the gift buyer’s trail.”
Allan Palecek, CEO of Richmond, California-based Palecek, said that he was impressed by the traffic he was seeing. “We’re opening a new showroom during Market and the mood is great. We’re getting lots of traffic early in the morning and we are very excited to be here,” he said. “We are excited to be affiliated with a designer showroom, LMS, so we will also be open to the designer who shops here daily, in between markets.”
Patty Price, executive vice president, sales with Arteriors home showroom based in Dallas, Texas, said she introduced the new Lisa Luby Ryan collection on the first day of Market and couldn’t have been happier with the day’s results. “Business has been very strong, especially for the first day. We’ve been amazed,” she says. “We saw new accounts and met with many international customers. I feel we are really going to see an uptick in business throughout the week.”
Eric Hinshaw, CEO with Kingsdown, said that he, too, was impressed by the traffic. He said nearly 75 percent of his traffic has been from new customers, including those from Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Australia. Hinshaw said he could feel the buzz about the new concepts the showroom is introducing within the Kingsdown Inc. Brand Portfolio. “We are seeing a lot of enthusiasm. People don't come to Market to talk about lines they have. They want to see things that are new and different. That creates a lot of excitement.”
Rick Lovegrove, director, design and sales with Montreal, Canada-based G. Romano said he was pleasantly surprised at the volume he saw during opening day. He said that G. Romano, who exhibits in the juried showcase Design & Living, is introducing three new collections and buyers from Latin America, Mexico, Canada and the United States were responding well. “This has been the best first day at Market that I can remember in many years. Right from the start, we wrote orders all morning. It has been really upbeat,” he said. “The buyers who have been coming have been very focused. They are here to work. We are hoping for four more days like this.”
Connie Post, CEO of Affordable Design Solutions, is working with Furniture Origins, a licensee of the Disney line, and Theo Kalomirakis, aka “The Father of Home Theater,” to introduce The Walt Disney Collection. The line drew quite a crowd on opening day. “I’m seeing a real turnaround and uptick,” said Post. “We are working with retailers to create a gallery in their stores with the Walt Disney-branded product. The last 18 months has been flat, and retailers are look
ing for something new and innovative. We have major retailers coming in to see the space and it tells us they are ready to do business. They are seeing that the consumer is hungry for something new.”
John Feizy, owner of Dallas, Texas-based Feizy Rugs, said his showroom launched five collections today. “Based on the traffic we saw this morning, our expectations are that this is going to be a very strong market. All indications are there—buyers are drawn to the showroom, the bright color palettes and the new collections.” Feizy said.
David Gebhart, president and CEO of Dallas, Texas-based Global Views, said he was amazed at the crowds before Market even began. “We couldn't believe the traffic waiting to get into the building today,” he said. “We have had a great five years here, and we relocated to a new expanded space on the first floor. We’re glad we made the move—we have an opportunity to really serve our customers.”
Tom Baldwin, vice president, marketing with Morristown, Tennessee-based Berkline said he saw a dramatic increase in traffic today—20 percent over last year’s Winter Market. “We’re delighted at our day one attendance,” he said.
Stephanie Lucas, president and CEO with Elliston, Virginia-based Rowe Fine Furniture said that she was impressed by the demographics she saw in her showroom. "We have a variety of different customers that are sophisticated and open-minded buyers looking for freshness, which they find here at Market,” she said.
Following a successful first day, attendees were treated to a show-stopping opening reception, inspired by the hit show, “Glee.” The production included a special choreographed “Salute to Bedding,” celebrating one of the most profitable and innovative markets within the home furnishings industry. Dancers jumped across a stage of mattresses to Van Halen’s “Jump” and other numbers, while guests enjoyed the cozy surrounding of fire pits, festive hors d’ oeuvres and cocktails. The reception also featured a special preview of the Better Sleep Council’s Suite 7 web series.
New market destinations for Garden and Gourmet located in C5’s Gift+Home section fueled traffic and buzz with its dynamic temporary exhibitors as well as cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and a high tea for buyers all afternoon.
It was an energizing start to a fully loaded week as attendees prepared to take advantage of a rebounding economy. Winter Market is offering targeted speakers, exhibits and events to educate and prepare attendees for a year of optimism and growth. Other highlights for the week include the return of the internationally acclaimed One Good Chair competition and the anticipated Design Icon presentation honoring Christopher Guy.
The Winter 2011 Las Vegas Market takes place January 24-28, 2011.
About World Market Center Las Vegas
World Market Center Las Vegas is an integrated home and hospitality contract furnishings showroom and trade complex. The campus showcases furniture, decorative accessories, gift, lighting, area rugs, home textiles and related segments, as well as the Las Vegas Design Center open daily to consumers and designers. World Market Center currently hosts the biannual Las Vegas MarketTM, the preeminent total home market along with Gift + HomeTM and Vegas KidsTM. For more information on World Market Center Las Vegas and its shows, visit www.wmclv.com. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.