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Ray Allegrezza

Alfresco Spaces expands in Las Vegas

Century FurnitureCentury Furniture and other high-end manufacturers displayed in Las Vegas Market’s Alfresco Spaces.
AS CASUAL furniture continues to become a growing and more lucrative slice of the home furnishings pie, more market centers are showcasing the category.
     With the recent creation of Alfresco Spaces, the World Market Center did its part to take anything but a casual approach in helping to bring the category front and center for retailers attending the Las Vegas furniture market last month.
     Located in Building B, second floor, Alfresco Spaces was dedicated to upscale, design-intensive furniture and furnishings that can be used both inside and outside the home, underscoring a key category trend.
     According to Tim Branscome, a vice president at the World Market Center, "Until recently, outdoor furnishings designs had been stagnant for some time. But fortunately, a revived passion for outdoor spaces is driving a design revolution in this category, complete with new materials and treatments that complement contemporary interior designs."
     In addition to attracting more domestic exhibitors, Alfresco Spaces also brought in a number of exhibitors from outside the U.S., including Sydney, Australia-based Harbour Outdoor.
     "More than ever before, homeowners are realizing the importance of the homestead, where the backyard is clearly an enhancement of the living area in the house," said Alexander Eburne, vice president of sales and marketing at Harbour Outdoor. "The economy has motivated people to choose to stay and invest in their home environments, while they obtain immeasurable enjoyment with their newfound outdoor life."
     Eric Graham, senior director of case goods and leisure for Century Furniture, said, "The layout has really worked and I credit the great-looking display outside the building for helping to entice buyers inside."
Veneman CollectionsVeneman Collections’ Roger Thomas designs add a splash of color to the poolside exhibit.
     In addition to seeing numerous designers who came in with jobs in hand, Graham also saw representatives from a number of upscale furniture stores including Gorman's and Robb & Stucky.
     "The idea was to develop a cohesive casual furniture presence and that happened," said Bill Markowitz, president of Veneman Collections. "While we've shown here before, the World Market Center never made the push the way we they did this time to group the casual exhibitors into one cohesive area."
     Warren Juliano, national sales manger for Lloyd/Flanders, also was happy with his company's participation. "This was our first time, so it is hard to measure our success," he said. "But even so, my sense is that while this is in the genesis stage, it has been a strong outing."
     Juliano also echoed the comments of a number of exhibitors when he mentioned the strong showing from designers as well as from representatives of the contract and hospitality segments.
     "The Alfresco Spaces helped us set the groundwork this time and I think that as a result, we will see even more dealers, especially from traditional furniture stores, next time out," Juliano said.
     At last month's show, Juliano confirmed that he had visits from a number of Top 100 stores including Nebraska Furniture Mart, HOM and high-end retailer Louis Shanks.
     Juliano had this advice for traditional retailers thinking about making a play in casual furniture. "For openers, furniture stores can't treat the category like a redheaded stepchild and expect to be successful," he said.
     "Great retail is great theater," Juliano said. "And with the products and fabrics currently available, retailers can dramatically set the stage."

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