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Mega Group USA show attendance climbs 35%

 A vendor panel moderated by Mega Group USA President Rick Bellows, right, features panelists Jim Shoemaker, left of Shoemaker Financial, Bill West of Serta and Tom Arent of Whirlpool.A vendor panel moderated by Mega Group USA President Rick Bellows, right, features panelists Jim Shoemaker, left of Shoemaker Financial, Bill West of Serta and Tom Arent of Whirlpool.
 Mega’s private label Private Reserve Upholstery Collection, a U.S.-made collection by an undisclosed source, picked up more steam at the convention, with order totals that were double the spring show, the buying group said.Mega’s private label Private Reserve Upholstery Collection, a U.S.-made collection by an undisclosed source, picked up more steam at the convention, with order totals that were double the spring show, the buying group said.
 Simmons' Eric Greene, left, helps Mega dealers in the Simmons space at the group’s national convention in Nashville’s Renaissance Hotel.Simmons' Eric Greene, left, helps Mega dealers in the Simmons space at the group’s national convention in Nashville’s Renaissance Hotel.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mega Group USA drew a record crowd to its Aug. 18-21 national convention here as the furniture, electronics and appliances buying group added new vendors to its mix and gave away Samsung Galaxy tablets, officials said.

The event at Renaissance Hotel and convention center drew nearly 2,000 attendees, up 35% over the previous summer show record. That included nearly 500 dealer member companies, said Jerry Honea, the group's executive vice president of home furnishings.

Mega also had its largest vendor representation, with 20 first-time vendors. Among the furniture supplier partners showing for the first time were Barcalounger, Boyd Specialty, Hinkle Chair, Furniture of America, Hillsdale, Palm Springs Rattan and King Koil in bedding.

The group said all of its categories - furniture, mattress, appliances, consumer electronics, seasonal and outdoor casual - posted record sales for the two-day buying show.

With the support of Samsung Appliance, Mega Group USA handed out a free Samsung Galaxy tablets to every member in attendance. It also hosted sessions and workshops on how to use the tablets, "to address showrooming and empower their salespeople with product data, pricing, and rebates right on their sales floor," said Scott McFarland, the group's information technology director.

"We're helping our dealers embrace technology in their stores and ultimately meet their customers' expectations of retail for the future," he said in a release.

Mega's Honea said the group is anticipating a stronger fall selling season for its members. He said the organization's 16-group private label Private Reserve Upholstery Collection got a lot of support here, with double the orders from the spring show in Dallas.

Four groups were added to the stationary and motion upholstery collection for the Nashville show, with retail price points for sofas ranging from $599 to $999. Honea wouldn't name the supplier but said the line is made in the United States.

Pre-show events included Mega Madness, which created "a frenzy with incredible special buys from over 40 suppliers," the group said in a release. In addition, a vendor panel discussion moderated by Mega Group USA President Rick Bellows drew more than 600 people. The panelists included Tom Arent of Whirlpool, Bill West of Serta and James Shoemaker of Shoemaker Financial.

Mega Group also hosted educational workshops along with vendor training sessions. Dealers were able to participate in open forum sessions covering product protection, advertising, selling, operational ideas and how to competitively merchandise against big box stores.

Mega also addressed technology issues, including social media, how to use tech to close more sales, how to get the most out of your website and other Web topics.

Germantown, Tenn.-based Mega Group USA has more than 1,600 retail members with 3,000 stores. Its next national convention will be March 20-23 at the Gaylord Texan Hotel & Convention Center in Dallas.

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