What’s a furniture market? A furniture market is a trade show for the furniture industry where new trends and products can be seen by furniture industry insiders.
The plan was to head out of Austin to Vegas on a late Saturday afternoon flight. We were just getting ready to pull away from the gate when we were informed that the plane was “broken,” but we were hustled to another plane and made it to Vegas only 10 minutes late. It could have been worse! We took the shuttle on down to the Golden Nugget which was to be the base camp for our marketing venture for the next two and a half days. For those of you who have never been there, the hotel is located in the old downtown part of Las Vegas. Some locals claim it’s the heart of Vegas, but to me, it’s a lot more fun to people watch down there than on the strip. After checking in, we headed over to grab a bite at the Firefly, a cool tapas bar located in the Plaza hotel. Unfortunately, it was closed since the Plaza was gearing up for a major remodel, which was none too soon if you asked me. We headed back to the Nugget and ate at Lillie’s inside the hotel and headed to bed for our big day tomorrow.
The next morning, we grabbed a quick cab ride over to the World Market Center. This complex is supposed to total nine buildings when it is finally done, but due to economic issues there are only three and holding. These are really some of the coolest buildings I’ve seen! It feels like being down in the bottom of a canyon when you are in between them. We went up to the 16th floor of the “B” building for a 7am breakfast meeting to mingle with the other Furnish 123 stores. The view from up there is incredible! You could easily see snow on the mountains in the distance.
The store meeting was really good. We sat with people from stores in Utah and Pennsylvania and it’s both fun and strange to see how furniture styles vary in popularity across the country. Kerry and Rick opened the meeting by announcing that Furnish 123 was the fastest growing concept in the furniture industry. We listened to a great talk by Eric and Cassie, our neighbors from San Antonio, on social media. Our web site designer had some good news for use; home office will soon be available on “Create Your Own Space”, where you will soon be able to change wall colors and floor treatments. This will be great in addition to adding a “catalog” that will show much more of the furniture that we actually have in the store. There is also the rumor of a mobile app, which will be great for our customers to use while in our stores for more viewing options.
After the breakfast we headed over to the showroom to look at new pieces. Although the Winter Market typically does not have as many introductions as Spring or Fall, we saw a lot of good stuff. There was a great new looking sofa that was shown in polyester (great durability) in plum and a light green. It’s good to see some color! There was a nice small five piece dinette that had a distress metal base and the top was sporting the new “reclaimed wood” look. We also saw more tables that will go with our new dinette program where the customer can choose a table and then their chairs. In total, we will have about nine tables and sixteen chairs to create the dinette that will suit customer’s space and décor needs. There were some new ideas in office spaces as well.
Now we have to wait and see what actually gets made since the majority of furniture we see at Market are mock ups. They are there for us buyers to comment on and make commitments to for our stores. Based on the feedback and/or orders the manufacturers receive, they will decide whether to make the product or not. We might see something that we feel would be terrific for our store, but if there aren’t enough comments from the rest of the country, the product will never get made. It kind of stinks when we see something that has “Austin” written all over it, but does not get enough national support. Can we help it we have the best taste in the country?? If there is a lot of feedback to change the product, it may go back to be redesigned and we will see it reappear at a later market. Don’t you feel like an insider now?
We actually did get to spend a few hours at the nickel machines before we left. Laura did pretty well as usual. She was even winning at the airport while we were waiting for the flight home. No one wins at the airport! I on the other hand did a good job of giving most of her winnings back to the video poker machines. That is why she is the comptroller of the gambling money. With a monster gambling budget of $120, I guess somebody better be watching out.
We finally got back home on an uneventful Southwest flight. Market in Vegas is fast and fun, but it sure is good to get back home to Austin!