Murillo joins Spring Air as VP
Jay McIntosh -- Furniture Today, March 4, 2013
TUNICA, Miss. - Two industry veterans are organizing the first Tunica Furniture Market for early January 2014, billing it as a low-cost event that will let retailers get product in their stores before tax refund season.
"People say it's about time somebody did this," said Scott Morton, who was a furniture sales rep for 37 years and is now working full time to launch the new market.
He said he and partner Bruce Head, owner of Stewart William Furniture in Springfield, Tenn., will have 175,000 square feet of display space available at six casino hotels and a convention center in Tunica. The northwest Mississippi city, about 30 miles south of Memphis, Tenn., is a gaming and entertainment center that bills itself as a "mini Las Vegas with sweet tea."
The initial show is set for Jan. 8-9, 2014, a Wednesday and Thursday.
"If this works, it's something that we're going to continue every year," said Morton. There are no plans for a summer show, he said.
It's likely that a Tunica market would compete for exhibitors with the Tupelo Furniture Market, whose latest winter show just concluded on Sunday. Asked about the new show, Tupelo market Chairman and CEO V.M. Cleveland said, "It's gratifying that after 25 years others recognize the viability of Mississippi as the perfect venue to bring buyers and sellers together for a mutually profitable experience."
Morton said he was inspired to launch the event after listening to retailers complaining about the timing of the winter Tupelo market, which he said forces retailers to be out of their stores during tax refund season, something his early January Tunica show wouldn't do.
To make the Tunica event attractive to retailers, Morton said, the exhibitors will offer market specials and closeouts. The show also will have free shuttles to carry attendees between the venues.
Morton said exhibitors at the initial show will pay $2.50 per square foot, which he said is less than most other markets charge. Exhibit spaces are available at up to 5,000 square feet.
He said a number of manufacturers he has spoken to have had a positive reaction to the idea, although he isn't ready to announce any exhibitors yet.
Retailers coming to the show also will find costs low, he said. According to the tunicatravel. com website, the resort area has more than 6,000 hotel rooms with current nightly rates listed online ranging from $29 to $55. And there are plenty of dining, gaming and entertainment opportunities, so marketgoers can "come and get your business done and have some fun," Morton said.
He said the organizers also will offer door prizes, hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, and will host a Thank You Party in the Bluesville Grand Ballroom at the Horseshoe Casino.
Morton said he expects the initial show will draw mainly from the Southeast region, and he intends to send invitations to retailers within a 14-state area.
Retailer John McCall of D.T. McCall Furniture in Carthage, Tenn., gave the proposal a thumbs-up. "I'm looking forward to attending the first Tunica Furniture Market," he said. "The timing is perfect. It sounds like it should be productive, inexpensive and lots of fun."