Brisk traffic at Tupelo Furniture Market before today's official opening
Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, February 16, 2012
TUPELO, Miss. — Exhibitors reported brisk pre-opening day traffic at the Tupelo Furniture Market here Wednesday.
Most said they thought the activity reflected an improving economic climate and significantly reenergized retail community aggressively shopping new looks for their stores. The market officially opens today and runs through Sunday.
While Tupelo traditionally has been known as a closeout and deal market, retailers this week also want to know what's in stock, said Jeff Wallner, vice president of sales for upholstery and case goods importer World Imports.
"We had lots of customers come in early and I think this reflects a better economy, tax season and Presidents weekend. That combination is making this Tupelo market the perfect storm, but in a good way," Wallner said.
Brian Akchin, president of upholstery manufacturer Fraenkel/Advantage said buyers on the unofficial opening day reflected the good retail attitudes shown at previous markets this year, including Las Vegas, Atlanta and Toronto.
"I'm really very optimistic. Looking at the traffic at Vegas, the dealers we had at our private showing earlier and the dealers who came in Wednesday, there's pent up demand," Akchin said.
Brian Einhorn, vice president global sales and marketing for upholstery manufacturer Albany, said the company had a good Las Vegas Market and many of the same dealers will attend this week.
"We're always going to be here and we always get one or two major surprises and usually sneak out a placement or two here," Einhorn said.
Glenn Wakefield, president of case goods and upholstery importer Largo International, said that by midday Wednesday the company had seen 25 dealers and expected to reach 40 by the end of the day.
"Business is better. On our end we're up 23% so far this year," he said.
Jim Cherry, national sales manager for wood furniture manufacturer and importer Legends Furniture, said the company started seeing major retailers on Wednesday. He said sales have been up recently, with a recent spate of store openings in Phoenix, near the company's headquarters.
"It's no secret it's been pretty good lately," Cherry said. But he added the company has worked to develop product, including an imported entertainment gallery program called Palladium, to help keep sales steady. He said he also has seen more demand for the company's domestically produced goods.
"I think it's a case of getting what you want, when you want it. And there's been a lot of price fluctuations," Cherry said.
Ron Clevenger, executive vice president of Symbol Mattress, said Tupelo is always one of the company's best markets and it had begun seeing dealers prior to opening day. He said he hopes Symbol's success with its recently introduced Response G-Series of gel beds continues here in Tupelo.
Editor-in-chief Ray Allegrezza and Senior Editor Gary Evans contributed to this story.