• Cindy W. Hodnett

Las Vegas upholstery showrooms stay busy

MarshfieldMarshfield designer Susan Sheil draws inspiration from the fashion industry when creating fabric palettes. This cerulean blue has been a popular hue with fashion designers, and Sheil incorporates the colors to appeal to the female consumer.
LAS VEGAS - Upholstery showrooms were busy at the summer market here, and manufacturers said the activity was encouraging.
     "I think attendance was the same as or perhaps a little less than last year, but our written business was strong," said Lee Fautsch, vice president of sales, residential, for Flexsteel. "We added new pieces to our existing sectionals, and they were very well received. The Western and Southwestern customers really support the summer market. They don't come to just look; they buy."
      "We were only up slightly, but the quality of the customer was excellent," said Len Burke, vice president of marketing for Klaussner Home Furnishings. "We had customers in our showroom that were ready to buy, and it was a good order-writing market for us."
     "Our written business was up 13% over July a year ago, but traffic was off by about 6%," said Chris Podschun, president and CEO of La-Crosse. "It was a short, quick market, and I always think that Las Vegas in July is very much a regional market. We had excellent attendance from the Northwest and Southwest and decent attendance from west of Missouri."
     Podschun said that many buyers were interested in products made in America.
     "We introduced 57 new fabrics, and I'd say half of those are made in America," he said. "And this was our second market for our gel mattress sofa, which was very well received.
     "Sofa-sleepers are a great new way to make money because stores have voided that area," Podschun said. "Our dealers also want a quick turnaround; they don't keep inventory in a warehouse anymore."
     In covers, popular trends at market included color saturated leather and fabric, bright whites and mineral neutrals - particularly in shades of gray.
     Power motion recliners with streamlined profiles and made-in-America fabrics were also popular with buyers, along with quick delivery of product - an important selling point for retailers who have cut back on inventory storage.
     Lane introduced a sofa-sleeper with a Bluetooth-enabled console and gel-infused foam mattress. The sofa is the latest introduction in a collection that also includes "gamer" chairs with storage that fold into an ottoman, and home theater chairs with hidden control storage.
Comfort Design’sComfort Design’s recliner features two key style themes at market — a streamlined design and metallic fabric. The recliner ottoman can’t be seen from the upright position, giving the chair a clean profile.

     Mike Campbell, CEO of Leather Italia, said his showroom was busy the first three days of market as dealers responded enthusiastically to several product introductions and the company's new quick-ship program.
     "We got a lot of credit for the remerchandising of our line and our 72-hour shipping program," Campbell said. "That generated a lot of buzz and a lot of energy."
     Buyer interest in power motion was evident in many Las Vegas showrooms including Best Home Furnishings, Comfort Design and Lane. Art Lanciers and Tony Yang of Vitra Furniture introduced a chair with Shiatsu massage technology.
     "We have a sofa, loveseat and sectional, and we have interest from a large number of retailers," Lanciers said. "The Shiatsu massage mechanism offers what is truly a deep tissue massage, with or without the back cushion, and it appeals to buyers looking for the spa-relaxation life experience."
     "We're seeing a lot of interest in our recliners with power motion," said Philip Cooper, executive director of Comfort Design. "Our lithium battery pack will power around 180 lifts, and then you can disconnect it, plug it into the wall and recharge it overnight."
     Cooper said that Las Vegas buyers were looking for traditional comfort, but modern design. Many showrooms showed updated mid-century and contemporary designs, along with a vibrant color palette in both upholstery and accessories.
     "Everything has been very citrus-y the past few seasons, but it's softening now," said Lisa Hanly, senior brand manager for Broyhill. "The mineral fabrics are a soothing palette and we're seeing interest in more subdued colors."
     Showrooms also report strong and increasing interest in smaller-scale furnishings. Singles, young professionals and smaller urban residential spaces are driving the category, and manufacturers like Marshfield have created "downsized" product specs to meet the demand.
      "One new look is to take both vintage and more transitional design to a contemporary scale," said Susan Sheil, designer and merchandiser for Marshfield. "The seating construction is very comfortable for both men and women."

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