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Thomas Russell

Despite snow, buyers keep Atlanta market busy

Better sales, lean inventories spur interest
ATLANTA — Despite a winter storm that blanketed much of the South with snow and ice, exhibitors received a warm reception from buyers shopping the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market.

"The buyers who braved the weather are packing our showroom," Kathi Cunningham, senior accounts manager at case goods and upholstery resource Four Hands.

She said retailers' sales were better than expected in the fourth quarter. Many also have lean inventories, and were shopping hard for new products and new looks to spur sales in the first half of this year.

Mark Abrams, vice president of design and marketing for accent furniture and accessories supplier Port 68, said that while "the weather has made it interesting, the buyers who sled or slid into Atlanta are shopping hard and writing orders." He said Thursday was a strong order writing day.

"Considering the weather, the show has been very good," said Clay Ackard, vice president of sales for accent furniture specialist Powell Company. He said walk-in traffic has been good, and he had already seen a number of majors including Big Lots and Badcock.

He said that there is "pent-up demand, and buyers are anxious to leverage our warehouse capabilities for quick shipments."

Accent furniture specialist Furniture Classics said that traffic was light the first two days of the show, which started on Wednesday. Thursday's traffic was only about half of the normal amount. However, company officials were optimistic that traffic would pick up today and continue strong through the weekend.

They also said that buyers were coming in to do business.

"People that are coming here are upbeat and are placing orders," said Michael Ricks, president. "Everybody is talking whatever small successes they have had and are building upon them."

Century Furniture's early traffic was up, and customers were writing orders to replenish low inventories in their stores, said Bob Lynch, a marketing representative for the company.

"People are upbeat," he said. "Dealers feel like things are turning around."

AmericasMart, the host of the Atlanta show, announced that it is extending its market hours this week as a service to its retailer and vendor attendees. Showrooms will be open through 8 p.m. each night through Sunday, Jan. 16. Market shuttle hours will also be extended to accommodate later visitors.

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