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Buyers in upbeat mood as Tupelo Furniture Market opens

Heath E. Combs, Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, February 28, 2013

TUPELO, Miss. — Tax refunds - or the lack thereof - was a popular topic among exhibitors here Wednesday as the Tupelo Furniture Market got off to a fast start on its unofficial opening day.

Many exhibitors said the slow beginning to "tax season" - the Internal Revenue Service didn't start accepting returns until Jan. 30 - put a damper on the first month of 2013. However, as refunds began to land in consumer checking accounts in mid-February, there was a noticeable uptick in orders.

That put buyers in an upbeat mood as they headed to this promotional and closeout-oriented market, which officially opens today.

"Everyone I've seen has been in a positive mood and has indicated that business is improving," said Sonny Cassady, president of Cassady Closeouts. "I've been seeing (retail) customers since Tuesday."

Cassady and many other Tupelo exhibitors said traffic was especially brisk Wednesday afternoon.

"We're seeing dealers that don't shop us in Las Vegas or High Point," said Rob Brisley, director of merchandising at leather upholstery importer Leather Italia. "It's important to be here."

Randy Spak, vice president of sales at promotional upholstery producer American Furniture Mfg., said he was impressed with the large number of buyers who came from outside the southeastern U.S.

"It has not been just regional attendance," he said. "We've seen several dealers from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and many other parts of the country."

Dave Macintosh, chief administration officer of accents importer Coast to Coast, said his first customers entered the showroom at 9 a.m. Wednesday and traffic was steady throughout the day.

"It's interesting that I am seeing many of our customers who came to see us in Vegas (in late January)," Macintosh said.

Roy Dean, sales manager for Rustic Heritage, said the company is expecting good attendance for Tupelo. It is promoting a national drop shipping program piloted early last year and officially launched last summer.
The company hopes to build more of a national customer base, Dean said. He added that the company's custom color program is also doing well, especially recent additions including blue, red, turquoise and yellow.

Lane Furniture President Dan Masters said the company anticipates a good market for closeouts and deals this week. In occasional it is focusing on function - specifically items like casters, lift tops or storage, he said.

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