Mart opens doors to consumers buying via designers

Mart designates 38 designers to work with consumers

The Chicago Merchandise Mart, the world's largest commercial building and home to hundreds of designer-oriented furniture showrooms, is opening its doors to the public.

A report last week by television station WLS said the move is aimed at driving more traffic through the 4.2 million-square-foot building during the recession.

Shoppers wishing to make a purchase will have to work with one of 38 designers designated by the Mart to work with consumers.

Historically, the building has been open only to interior designers. However, the kitchen, bath and flooring showrooms on the first floor have been open to the public for about 15 years, the report said.

The building's owner, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., also owns Market Square, Furniture Plaza and several other High Point showroom buildings.

Brian Bunch, assistant general manager and vice president of sales for MMPI High Point, told Furniture/Today that despite the Merchandise Mart's new policy in Chicago,
"We have no plans currently to follow this path in our High Point properties nor have we had significant requests from our tenant base to open to the public."

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