Upholstery action gears up at Vegas Market
Buyers going for hot categories, fresh looks
Cindy Hodnett -- Furniture Today, July 31, 2012
LAS VEGAS - Upholstery showrooms were bustling here Monday and manufacturers said the early activity is encouraging.
"We only show in Las Vegas, so we opened on Sunday, and we had a fabulous day," said Chris Podschun, president and CEO of LaCrosse. "Then at 10 a.m. this morning, we were swamped. Today, we're seeing a lot of our established customers, and we usually see new people starting tomorrow. But all of our buyers are looking for one thing - new ways to make new money.
"I tell them, ‘Don't keep buying that same beige microfiber sofa - look at something new,'" Podschun said. "Sofa-sleepers are a great new way to make money because stores have avoided that area. Our dealers also want a quick turnaround; they don't keep inventory in a warehouse any more."
Lane is introducing a sofa-sleeper here 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.
At Klaussner, Len Burke, vice president of marketing, said sales continue to be strong in sofa-sleepers and also in sectionals and domestic upholstery.
"Traffic has been really good so far," he said. "Our sectionals are doing really well and we're seeing that the momentum in ‘made in America' is continuing to build."
"Traffic has been really brisk, and it started at 8 a.m.," said Eric Vollmer, advertising director at Best Home Furnishings. "The attitude is very upbeat, and it looks like it is going to be a good market."
Buyer interest in power motion was evident in many showrooms including Best, Comfort Design and Lane. Art Lanciers and Tony Yang of Vitra Furniture are introducing a chair with Shiatsu massage technology.
"This is our first market, and we are showing three exclusive designs," said Lanciers, Vitra's president. "We have a sofa, loveseat and sectional, and we have interest from a large number of retailers. 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 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."
He said buyers are looking for traditional comfort but modern design. Many showrooms here are showing updated mid-century designs, along with a vibrant color palette in upholstery and accessories.
"Everything has been very citrus-y the past few seasons, but it's softening now," said Broyhill spokeswoman Lisa Hanly. "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."
Primary upholstery trends for the market are color-saturated leather and fabric, bright whites and mineral neutrals, power motion recliners with streamlined profiles, made in America fabrics and quick delivery.
Several showrooms also reported strong pre-opening day orders, a positive indicator for what might turn out to be a more robust market than previously expected.
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