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Casual Living is putting on the ritz

Nicole C. CrewsNicole C. Crews
AT CASUAL LIVING, WE GET AROUND. WE COVER SHOWS IN Chicago, Las Vegas, High Point, New York, Dallas and Atlanta. We report on retailers and suppliers throughout all 50 states - and well beyond into Canada, Mexico and Central and South America. We venture as far as the Far East and Southeast Asia and throughout Europe.
     The one thing we find that remains industry-constant throughout all of those times zones, regions, language barriers and culture clashes, is the universal desire to maximize opportunities in the burgeoning category of outdoor living.
     In America alone, the outdoor market - including furniture, shade products and grills - is projected to be $6.9 billion for 2011, up close to 1% from an estimated $6.65 billion in 2010.
     Internationally, spoga+gafa, held in September in Cologne, Germany, saw a 40% increase in attendance compared to the previous year. MAISON&OBJET, the September show in Paris, showed a nearly 10% increase in the number of international visitors.
     And if 69% of International Furnishings and Design Association's (IFDA) surveyed members are correct in predicting outdoor living spaces to expand by 2020, then we as an industry have to be prepared to respond to even more growth over the next decade.
     That's why we've announced the dates, theme, agenda and location for our first Casual Living Conference. This groundbreaking gathering will be held Feb. 22-24, 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Fla.
     The theme - The Sky's the Limit - will examine key opportunities in the outdoor industry and discuss the changing consumer, category growth, furniture fashion trends, margin in relation to profit, social media, technological tactics and casual's ascendancy in the marketplace. We might even throw in a few surprises for good measure.
     Some of you will already be there for the members-welcome International Casual Furnishings Association's (ICFA) Board Meeting earlier in the day on Wednesday, so there's no excuse not to attend. Regardless of affiliation, if you are a retailer, supplier, interior designer, landscape architect, contract designer or manufacturer of outdoor furniture, goods or grills, you need to make it a point to attend this inaugural event.

Join us at the Ritz-CarltonJoin us at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 22-24, 2012 for our industry insider-packed conference and a sneak peek at how you’ll be doing business over the next decade.

     You should take advantage of a forum where, finally, outside of busy trade shows, we can come together and address how we go about responding to the challenges and opportunities we are facing as we evolve as a lifestyle-driven facet of the furniture business.
     It's an opportunity to listen to a few experts, spend time with our colleagues and also to honor a few industry folks who have outdone themselves to date. With that in mind, Casual Living will present Supplier of the Year and Retailer of the Year awards during the conference's gala dinner.
     Did I mention that it's being held at the Ritz-Carlton? And that rooms are deeply discounted for us? Heck, the spa, the Tom Fazio-designed golf course and phenomenal Lido Key Members Beach Club alone are enough to get my bags packed. Join us - and stay for the weekend at the same rate. I know I plan to.
     The event is sponsored by ICFA, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., Agio, Glen Raven, Telescope Casual Furniture, Alfresco Home, Gensun Casual, Gloster, Hanamint, Lane Venture, Lloyd/Flanders, OW Lee, Pride Family Brands and TUUCI. Sponsorships are still available. To register for this informative event, go to (ICFA retailers enter "ICFA2012" to apply for a $45 discount). For more information, contact Casual Living Executive Editor Nicole Crews at or Publisher Norman Hamilton at

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