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Tupelo Furniture Market organizers expect strong event

Pre-registrations running ahead of last year
 The Burke sofa, which features traditional design and an all-leather cover, is one of the first offerings from Simon Li’s new U.S. factory.The Burke sofa, which features traditional design and an all-leather cover, is one of the first offerings from Simon Li’s new U.S. factory.

TUPELO, Miss. — Hoping to build on the momentum from a round of successful January furniture shows, organizers and exhibitors at this week's Tupelo Furniture Market are anticipating a strong event that will attract buyers from the Southeastern U.S. and many other regions.

Organizers say pre-registrations are running well ahead of the February 2013 market, and include more than 500 buyers from large retailers and another 2,500 from mid-size stores.

"We are extremely satisfied with the results of our marketing efforts thus far," said market President Kevin Seddon, who noted the show's 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space is nearly sold out.

The show officially opens Thursday, but most showrooms will be open for business on Wednesday, which has become an unofficial opening day in recent years.

The sizeable pre-registration figures are welcome news for exhibitors, most of whom are confident that actual market attendance will be strong, as well.

"We're expecting to have good attendance," said Dwight Hardison, vice president of merchandising at leather upholstery resource Simon Li. "We usually see quite a few dealers from the Midwest and the West. It's not just people from the Southeast."

Jim Sneed, president of promotional upholstery producer Affordable Furniture, said he believes the market's new dates in early February will help attract a larger number of smaller retailers who see a spike in business once tax refund checks start being issued.

"Refund checks won't start going out until mid-February, so the mom-and-pop stores may feel more comfortable about coming," said Sneed. "When the show is in late February, the timing can be a problem for them."

In recent years, the February market had been in the latter half of the month, but the dates were moved up for 2014 in hopes of boosting attendance from smaller retailers, in particular.

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