• Thomas Russell

Atlanta market opens on high note

Traffic, order writing start out strong

ATLANTA — Furniture exhibitors showing at the January edition of the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market are reporting a strong start to the show.

A number of companies said they were pleased with traffic and order writing activity over the first two days of the event, which began Wednesday and runs through Jan. 13. They attribute that to the amount of new product in their showrooms and retailers' need to boost their inventories for spring.

Accent furniture specialist Bailey Street Holding Co. is showing 25 new pieces, including four modeled after designs by Mirador, a company whose assets it acquired in 2007. Bailey Street reported strong order writing on these and existing bestsellers in the line.

"There is a much more improved attitude among the designers and retailers we see coming in," said CEO Jim Berk. "Most retailers that are coming in had a good Christmas and are replenishing their inventories."

Company President Greg Waylock said buyers are more optimistic, based in part on the fact that consumers appear to be spending more money. This, in turn, is affecting the shopping patterns at market this week.

"People are looking at new product - it's not just about what we had before," said Waylock. "It's a very different mood, which is welcome after 2009."

Gordon Troise, regional sales manager for case goods manufacturer and importer Halo Styles LLC, said traffic on the first day in Atlanta was somewhat light, but still better than first-day traffic last January.

He said he was pleased with order writing this early in the event and attributes that to pent-up demand in the marketplace.

"They will not just be looking, but will start picking up the pen," he said.

Century Furniture is showing here for the second time. In July it had a successful debut, meeting some 200 potential new accounts, a good number of which it later opened.

This time officials are not expecting to see quite the same number of new accounts. Still, they are optimistic it will be a good show based on traffic and order writing the first two days.

Century's 3,800-square-foot showroom, which is managed year round by Charles Ray & Associates, features case goods and upholstery and include some of the company's bestselling product lines.

Charles Ray & Associates also manages showrooms on the same floor that carry other upper middle to high end lines such as Bernhardt, Theodore Alexander, Hekman, Henredon, Sherrill, Charleston Forge, Wesley Allen, Howard Miller and Hickory White.

Permanent showrooms in Atlanta are open through Jan. 13. Temporaries open today and will be open through Jan. 12.

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, Furniture Today

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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