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Bedding Conference attracts strong contingent of retailers

David Perry Executive editorDavid Perry Executive editor
A new era in the bedding industry began in Florida earlier this month when Furniture/Today's seventh annual Bedding Conference played to good reviews. More than 320 attendees - a record turnout - joined us at the Turnberry Isle Miami Resort for three busy days of networking and educational sessions. The attendees included top retailers, virtually all of the Top 15 U.S. Bedding Producers, and the industry's leading suppliers.
     Among the topics we addressed: Will specialty sleep maintain its growing ways? Are those strong Memorial Day results sustainable? Are body impressions a big problem? Do we still have to use lowball prices to drive traffic?
     You'll find answers to those questions in our coverage of the conference, some of which is elsewhere in this issue. Coverage is also now online at www.furnituretoday.com, where you can find my video interviews with several conference attendees. And I'll be looking more closely at several key issues in future columns and features, including our Retail Bedding Playbook series.
     I say that a new era began at the conference because it followed closely on the heels of Tempur-Pedic's surprising announcement of a second quarter sales slowdown, one that reflects a new competitive climate.
     As I said in my remarks at the conference, it's good for us to come together as an industry when we face times of change. We got insights from several industry leaders on key industry dynamics in our educational sessions.
     Our agenda was oriented toward retailers, a segment that turned out in force. We had about 50 retail entities in attendance, representing all of the major channels of distribution. The retailers included Art Van, Slumberland, Steinhafels, Broad River Furniture, City Furniture, El Dorado Furniture, Gardner-White, Grand Home Furnishings, Homemakers, Blacker's Home Furnishings, Jerome's Furniture, American Signature, Mattress Warehouse, Metro Mattress, Mattress Firm, Sleepy's, Sleep Number, Back to Bed, Hastens, Fred's Beds, Badcock Home Furniture & more, Sears, Famous Tate, Denver Mattress, Factory Mattress, Mega Group, Furniture First, Furniture Fair, Ergo Customized Comfort, MurMaid Mattress and Olejo.com, among many others. That's a nice blend of major and up-and-coming sleep shops, furniture stores, department stores and factory directs.
     For the first-time, we honored a department store - Sears - as a Retail Giant of Bedding.
     Our headline sponsor was once again Hickory Springs. Comfort Solutions, Beautyrest, Leggett & Platt and Serta sponsored key portions of the conference.
     Our other sponsors included Therapedic, Fabrictech, Wells Fargo, 3PD, Paramount, DreamFit, Natura, International Market Centers, Reverie, GBS Enterprises, bedgear, Protect-A-Bed, Aireloom, Wright Global Graphic Solutions, Sealy, Restonic, Dream Serene, Englander, Vi-Spring, Tempur-Pedic, Outlast Technologies, Boyd Specialty Sleep, Storis, Human Touch, Naturepedic, Dormeo Octaspring, CertiPUR-US, Ashley Sleep and CJK.
     Thanks to all for helping us make this such a strong bedding conference.

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