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Clint Engel

Furniture First adds members, shows at market

Bill Hartman,HIGH POINT - Furniture First buying group has added two new members: Ashbrook Furniture in Salem, N. H., and Furniture Traditions in Humble, Texas.
     It also said it will display new products and concepts in its High Point showroom this week, including a new mattress store concept covering freestanding bedding stores and store-within a-store formats.
     Ashbrook and Furniture Traditions are, like most of its members, "family-owned businesses that have succeeded by serving their communities with quality merchandise and personal service," the Harrisburg, Pa.-based buying group said in a release.
     The additions brings the Furniture First membership rolls to 208 retailer stockholders, with 441 furniture stores in 47 states doing $1.6 billion in annual sales.
     The group's substantial membership growth in recent years "has allowed us to provide more benefits to our members," said Furniture First President Bill Hartman.
     "We have over 140 home furnishings and service programs that bring our members huge benefits," he said. "Furniture First's rebates, extra discounts, exclusive merchandise, private labels, consumer newsletters, bulletin board and individual member consulting allow our members to have a significant ‘competitive edge' over their competition."
     To qualify for membership, a retailer must be a full-line independent that has been in business for more than five years. Stores also are required to have good credit and meet minimum volume requirements. Most members serve the solid middle market of consumers, the group said.
     Furniture First also is geographically exclusive, so members are not in direct competition with each other.
     Furniture First has a showroom in High Point's International Home Furnishings Center, Space G-770, where it will feature merchandise from a variety of supplier partners . Among other things, an upholstery program by Decor-Rest will debut in the showroom as will a new, mid priced custom dining program called First Choice, developed for the buying group by vendor partner Bassett Furniture.
     In addition, outdoor seating and dining by Home crest will be featured with a new Traeger wood pellet grill. Solid wood custom dining from Palettes by Winesburg will be displayed. And the group also will be showing off a new mattress store concept for freestanding mattress stores and mattress store-within a-store formats.
     Furniture First also will facilitate a group shop at Pure Latex Bliss and will feature a Best in Show forum in which "members can get the scoop on the hottest vendors at market," the group said.

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