• Powell Slaughter

Irma takes toll on Premarket attendance

HIGH POINT – While central North Carolina avoided a hit from now Tropical Storm Irma, severe weather elsewhere and concerns about air travel delays in the wake of the storm kept many retailers sponsored to attend Premarket at home for the event.

That was an anticipated outcome for this week, but from an exhibitor’s point of view, lower retail attendance meant reps will have to work extra hard to line up early distribution commitments among key accounts, and some collections were shown mainly through renderings since samples got held up in ports that closed operations in advance of the storm.

Vaughan-Bassett President Doug Bassett did note the company has had a decent amount of drive-in traffic. “We’ve seen folks from Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, for example,” he said on Monday.

While sponsoring exhibitors aim to be pretty much High Point Market-ready at Premarket, the event does give some room for them to tweak introductions in advance of the main show, and several noted that they could have benefitted from more eyes on the new goods.

Bassett, for instance, was showed a new table in its Benchmade dining program with chopped corners. “We don’t know whether we’ll do chopped corners because we hoped to get more feedback,” said Vice President of Sales Matt Johnson, noting light attendance this week.

Moving forward

Light attendance isn’t stopping vendors here from moving forward with new business plans.

Johnson pointed out that Bassett is expanding Benchmade with a new species, solid oak, “but from a modern casual point of view,” as well as six new finishes and customizable sizes.

Vaughan-Bassett continues to grow its presence in solid wood. In April 2016 it introduced its step-up Artisan & Post bedroom and dining program, adding a starting solid wood bedroom line-up with its Appalachian Hardwoods collections.

At Premarket, the company unveiled a new series in solid maple to Appalachian Hardwoods to complement existing groups in oak and cherry. The two solid wood programs already comprise 30% of Vaughan-Bassett’s business, and that could approach 50% next year.

“Appalachian Hardwoods has given our old Vaughan-Bassett customers a presence in solid wood,” Doug Bassett said. “Artisan & Post has expanded our customer base into new (higher-priced) accounts.”

Hooker Furniture is enhancing its delivery position with two new collections, Crafted, a relaxed yet substantially scaled introduction, and the casually elegant Modern Romance.

“These are our first collections that ship container direct with both case goods and complementary upholstery from the same plant,” said Elizabeth Adkins, merchandising and product development administrator.

Powell SlaughterPowell Slaughter | Senior Editor

I'm Powell Slaughter, senior editor at Furniture/Today. I returned to the publication in January 2015 after nine years of writing about furniture retail strategies and best practices at a monthly magazine focusing on home furnishings retail operations. Prior to that, I spent 10 years with F/T covering wood furniture, the last five of those as case goods editor. While I cover occasional, home entertainment and home office here, a major responsibility is expanding our attention to the logistics side of the industry. I hope my articles will encourage a dialogue with retailers, vendors, third-party logistics specialists and carriers. I’d love to hear your ideas, concerns and suggestions for smoother flow of material and goods.

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