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Cinde W. Ingram

Casual market surviving, thriving

While the stock market was taking its wild ride on Wall Street last month, the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market was making a bigger footprint than ever inside Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

Like me, some attendees traveled through the remnants of Hurricane Ike to reach the Windy City. Others, closer to the brunt of the storm, were forced to stay away. They should be expecting visits from their trusty casual furniture sales reps, who are having to spend lots of time on the road despite record high gas prices.

“It was a necessity to be here. We have to keep pedaling faster and harder to stay ahead of the pack,” retailer Bonnie Richins, general manager of Anaheim Patio & Fireside, told me.

Although lingering financial clouds overshadow the nation, everyone expects to see the sun shine through again soon. Specifically, the home furnishings industry is hopeful the housing crunch will lift in time to restore consumer confidence. In a perfect world, that would happen before the massive High Point Market awakens this month.

“There were concerns the mood was going to be gloom and doom, but that attitude never came out,” Gloster Furniture President Eric Parsons said of the Casual Market. I talked with him just before the award winners for Design Excellence, Showroom Merchandising and Manufacturer Leadership were announced. Gloster will be exhibiting its high-end furniture lines for the first time in High Point.

If you were among the number who missed the Casual Market, you can catch up on all the winning designs, stores and vendors inside this issue. And there’s more to see, including lots of photos of the outdoor fabric fashion show, if you visit us online at Many manufacturers who stayed in their showrooms during the fashion show for the past two years were able to experience the excitement for the first time. Held at the Apollo Awards dinner rather than on the show floor, it was a fitting reminder this industry has as much to do with fashion as the Great Outdoors.

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Cinde W. Ingram
Casual Living Editor in Chief
7025 Albert Pick Rd., Suite 200, Greensboro, N.C. 27409

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