Colors liven showrooms at Tupelo Furniture Market
Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, August 27, 2013
TUPELO, Miss. — Camouflage and color splashes lit up the showrooms at the summer Tupelo Furniture Market earlier this month.
Suppliers said buyers came looking for bargains, but several added that there was also a notable shift in interest toward non-promotional price points.
J Henry was a first-time exhibitor in Tupelo. Virgil Henry, one of the partners in the company, said the showroom stayed busy.
"We had a great first market - good orders written and good contacts to follow up on in the next few weeks," Henry said. "A lot of our guests in our showroom want large-scale sofa groups with accent chairs, and most of the retailers want to add better-built upholstery in higher price points."
Most sofas in the J Henry showroom were in the $499 to $999 retail price range.
The Style Line Furniture showroom featured modern-inspired upholstery showcasing a fabric smorgasbord that rivaled booths at textile shows. Harvey Bailey, vice president of sales and merchandising, said contemporary styles did well along with transitional, and that dealers were positive about the market and the year.
"We definitely had a better show than last summer," Bailey said. "Buyers seem to be excited about finishing the year strong. Most are looking forward to a strong fall, and the retailers that flood the market with advertising are a step ahead in attracting consumers.
"The management team at the Tupelo Market seems to improve from market to market," he added. "They strive for excellence each time, and the Tupelo Market does what it does best - hospitality. Everyone makes sure the buyer has the best experience possible."
D.M. Stacy Mfg. President Dale Stacy said that dealers in Tupelo were looking for manufacturers who "offer more freedom and flexibility to move fabric/pillow combinations from one frame style to the other."
"As far as what retailers seemed to like from our showroom, it seemed there was a lot of interest in the transitional styles along with bright and interesting colors," Stacy said. "I think we displayed a little different look as far as styles, etc., than what you normally see in Tupelo."
A representative from Albany Inds. said the company was seeing increased interest in better price points. Albany's SoFab ready-to-assemble sofa line was also doing well, according to the official, and appealed to the "dot com" crowd.
The Jackson Catnapper showroom had red graffiti patterns juxtaposed against an apple green sofa, along with bright blues paired with chocolate brown. And in one section of the showroom, a group including a sofa, chair and loveseat was upholstered in camouflage fabric, nodding to the popularity of the "Duck Dynasty" television series.
Although camouflage upholstery was featured in just about every building at the Tupelo Market, there was also a showroom that paid homage to classic 18th century style. At Gillespie Mfg., promotional upholstery has been replaced with "hand-tufted 18th century reproductions," according to owner Jack Gillespie.
"This furniture has great proportions," he said. "It works well for office furniture as well as for homes."
Arguably the most dramatic showroom at the Tupelo Market was Fusion Furniture. In every corner, Technicolor hues livened up neutral tones, and Fusion's Bo Robbins said that was what his dealers expect.
"Our people shop us for color," Robbins said. "They come in to see what's new, but they also take a second look at what they didn't buy last time. Our retailers tell us they are tired of the same old stuff on their floors. People are starting to see color offered at all price points, and for the consumer, color is becoming more of a standard. I tell our buyers that they need to have color on the floor; it gives retailers an opportunity to make better margins if they just change a pillow."
Tupelo Market President Kevin Seddon said that the market's initiatives attracted buyers.
"We're evolving and reacting to what retailers want, and we have showrooms at promotional and medium price points," he said. "The percentage of who's here and what they are offering is diverse."