Bull market in Chicago
Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, July 23, 2012
The International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market Preview was held July 17-19 at Chicago's Merchandise Mart. The annual event serves as a sneak peak for the ICFA Market held each fall. This year, the event that showcases casual indoor and outdoor furniture, umbrellas, grills, accessories and more grows to 350,000-plus square feet and will take place Sept-20-23.
The Avanti Collection at Gensun Casual Living features deep seating loungers showcased in exclusive Richard Frinier fabric.
Marked by a steady stream of attendees and a positive vibe, the Preview show was packed with new product introductions, a fresh and diverse embracement of color and an interesting assortment of modern looks marketed for the Millennials and Gen Xers entering the marketplace.
- "We are introducing 12 new collections and it's an aggressive statement for us to bring out this much new product - and all of it is contemporary. We didn't know if our dealers would get it or not but we've been blown away by the response. It's all been positive." Dudley Flanders, President, Lloyd/Flanders
- "We are introducing fire pits for the first time and we have several new consoles, serving stations and ottoman benches to round out our collections." Tanya Stevens, VP Marketing & Service Operations, Tropitone
- "There is a diverse group of buyers out there now. From the specialty retailer to the mainline furniture store to department stores, big box and online - the demand for outdoor furniture is there." Bob Gaylord, President, Agio USA
- "We are introducing a black and white story this market and it's getting a lot of attention. We've also added QR codes that take you to our design site where you can design your own. There is also a new product installment video on the site for user-friendliness." Jeff B. Dorough, VP Sales & Marketing, Treasure Garden
- "We're introducing five complete collections and we've had excellent response. We're not making patio furniture and we're not making lawn furniture. We're making fine furniture. I feel the outdoor room is a living room, a dining room and a family room. We're just continuing to promote the idea that the outdoor room is the most important room in the house and it's only going to continue to grow in popularity." Steve Lowsky, President, Pride Family Brands
- "We decided to discontinue our indoor furniture because the outdoor has completely taken over our business." Bill Herren of Whitecraft
Three Birds Casual’s Riviera line of folding chairs and loungers expanded to eight color options. “We feel good about the amount of interest we’ve had,” said Tad Varga, president of Three Birds Casual. “We’re having a lot of success with our discount structure and we started writing early buy orders last week.”
- Woodard recently celebrated its 146th anniversary as a manufacturer of wrought iron, aluminum and outdoor wicker. "To mark the occasion, we wanted to do a collection to show the artisan and craftsmanship Woodard is known for," designer Scott Coogan said. Woodard's retro Brayden collection was receiving rave reviews along with other new groups, finishes, storyboards and a branding effort with Woodard's flying W logo, Coogan said.
- "We're pleased with the turnout. Dealers have been upbeat and positive, despite the heat. We hit the mark with some of our new collections." Russ Sorenson, President, Hanamint and Alu-mont.
- "It's been a phenomenal show. We've been real aggressive and developed a lot of new product." Gary McCray, President, Lane Venture
- "Color is still a big thing for us, and we like it to have a high sheen," Bill Markowitz, President, Veneman Collections
- "We're doing well with our bright colors, particularly reds and greens. Our loft look has been popular. I'd say we had a better turnout than expected. We had just as many new dealers as existing dealers." Mike Sosnowski, National Sales Manager, KETTLER International's furniture division
- "We have only been doing outdoor furniture for three years and now it is 30% of our business," Luis Ruesga, CEO, Zuo Modern
- "We launched our new season in the middle of June, and we're getting a great response on our woven and cast aluminum collections. We've been busy. People have been interested and we're writing orders. We feel like we're doing a good job of fulfilling our customers' needs." Joseph Cilio, President, Alfresco Home
- The Preview show's opening day resulted in a record number of appointments for Pelican Reef Wicker, which was expanding its licensed Panama Jack furniture designs, Allen Calzadilla said. "We had more appointments yesterday than in my company's history," he said.
- "Our showroom has been busy the whole time." Andy Harper, Director of Sales, Cabana Coast by Actiwin.
Telescope Casual mixes floral and stripe on a new woven introduction, La Vie – a fabric trend seen throughout the show.
Coastal and mountain landscape photography helps set the scene inside ScanCom’s showroom, which featured an expansion of outdoor wicker lines.
Loft by Lloyd/Flanders is a concept the company is still shaping, but the idea is to attract the younger buyer with a modern sensibility and affordable price point.
O.W. Lee introduced four new collections – two iron and two aluminum – this market. Gios and Pallisades are the latter and Laredo and Marquette, shown here, use iron with a large amount of white space in the design to keep the prices competitive.
Pride Family Brands President Steve Lowsky said its expanded fire features drew strong response. The new Monterey Collection, constructed of cast and extruded aluminum, drew attention with its fire table along with overstuffed cushion comfort and single button tufting that repeated design elements.
Whitecraft’s Montecito Collection shone in sun-drenched colors, featuring Bella-Dura’s Coconut Grove fabric with accents of Sunset Grove and Dreamsicle Grove Vanilla.