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HGTV personality, national magazine editors among Casual Market speakers

Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI) announced a high-level line-up of speakers and events being planned for this year's International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, which will be held Sept. 20-23 at the Chicago Merchandise Mart.

The four-day market event will feature HGTV's John Gidding, editors from national consumer home and garden publications and a selection of other complimentary educational and networking events for exhibitors and attendees.

Gidding will present this year's Casual Market keynote presentation, "Turn Up the Curb Appeal for Great Outdoor Spaces." In his talk, Gidding will share information about his professional design background and experiences creating outdoor living spaces for his clients and HGTV fans. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn tips about outdoor room and backyard design, and the importance of curb appeal.

The keynote will also cover designing and furnishing the front of the house, giving retailers insights to help sell customers on this key outdoor space. Gidding will also speak about today's trends and the importance of accessories to enhance outdoor spaces. The keynote presentation will take place at 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 in room 8A, eighth floor.

A new addition to this year's show is a consumer media panel session. Editors from top national consumer publications will participate in a panel discussion to share their professional expertise on a variety of topics. Don Eberly and Jeff Collard, co-owners of Eberly & Collard Public Relations, the Casual Market's public relations firm, will moderate the panel to include outdoor room design, outdoor furniture and accessory trends, and relatable insights from the panelists' editorial research and writing.

"The panelists will also provide a brief overview of themes they tend to cover in their magazines, what they look for when sourcing content, and pertinent editorial topics they may be planning in the coming year," said Jaclyn Kelly, senior director of marketing for the International Causal Furniture & Accessories Market and MMPI.

The panel consists of five major consumer magazine editors, including Kit Selzer, senior home editor at Better Homes & Gardens; Jodi Bech, publisher at Garden Design; Amy Elbert, senior architecture editor at Traditional Home; Amy Mitchell, managing editor at Coastal Living; and Eugenia Santiesteban Soto, style director at Veranda. The session, "Inspired Exteriors: Consumer Media Panel," will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21 in room 8A, eighth floor.

Networking events will also take place during the Casual Market. At 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, first time market attendees will have the opportunity to gain tips on how to make the most of this year's show at the "First Time Attendee Welcome Gathering."

Also, on Thursday, Sept. 20, the "Market Welcome Party" will take place, where exhibitors and show-goers can enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres as well as network with fellow industry professionals from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Market Suites on the eighth floor.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in room 8A on the eighth floor, retailers will have a chance to learn merchandising strategies, techniques and tips on a budget. This seminar is titled "Five Budget-Friendly Ways to Refresh, Revitalize & Renovate Your Patio Store NOW!" It will be offered by Hearth & Home magazine and presented by Linda Cahan, an internationally recognized visual merchandising expert. Sponsors include Agio, Sunbrella and Lloyd Flanders.

Then, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the same room, Casual Living magazine will host a panel of experts who have successfully used social media to build brand awareness. During "Proven Social Media Success for Home Furnishings Businesses," the panelists will share insights on where to focus efforts in the rapidly evolving world of social media, and they will answer questions about implementing the tactics that are discussed. This event is presented by Casual Living magazine and sponsored by Telescope Casual Furniture.

Two awards events will be held at Casual Market. The ICFA Awards Reception will highlight the presentation of the Design Excellence Category Award winners and announcement of the Lillian B. Winchester "Best of Show" Award. The ICFA Sales Representative of the Year Award will also be presented along with the Manufacturer of the Year Award. Hosted by the ICFA, this year's awards reception will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Ballroom. This event is for ICFA members and invited guests.

The Apollo Awards Banquet will celebrate influential contributions made by industry leaders. Finalists who were previously nominated by ICFA-member companies, based on sales management, advertising, display, growth, sales training and overall goals of each company, will be acknowledged.

"Top retailers in single- and multi-store categories will be honored, and the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award honorees will be recognized by the ICFA," said Kelly.

Hosted by the ICFA and MMPI, the Apollo Awards Banquet will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Field Museum in Stanley Field Hall. This event is by invitation only, and tickets are required.

Featuring the latest products and trends in the industry, the Casual Market averages approximately 250 temporary exhibitors and permanent showrooms, totaling approximately 350,000 square feet of overall exhibit in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. For more information, visit casualmarket.com.

 

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