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Cinde W. Ingram

SCFMA extends Casual Market September dates to five days

The Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association board of directors voted to extend the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market by half a day, but for some retailers it's still too short.

In response to retailers' feedback, the board agreed at a Feb. 6 meeting in Dallas the 2007 Casual Market will run from Monday, Sept. 17, through Friday, Sept. 21. Hours Monday through Thursday will be 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday hours will be 8:30 a.m. to noon. The show will be held at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

The 2007 Apollo Awards dinner is slated for Thursday, Sept. 20, at Navy Pier.

"We have had a number of requests to extend the show and give the retailers more time," said Rory S. Rehmert, president of SCFMA and vice president of sales and marketing, Meadowcraft. "This should be a positive for our customers. The extension of the show hours will give the retailers more time to shop the temporaries as well as the permanent showrooms."

Petey Fleischut, president of the Casual Furniture Retailers Association and co-owner of Casual Marketplace in Hockessin, Del., said the longer market is necessary but may not be quite enough. "Dealers need adequate time to complete the business they come there to accomplish," she said. "Many dealers do not attend both markets. When asking the opinion of buyers, those with a commitment to do as much as possible at market need the last day of market but feel it should be a full day and not a half day. Half-day opening seems to be tokenism and some manufacturers do not require their sales representatives be present so therefore it gives dealers every reason not to be there."

Buzz Homsy, chairman of California Backyard and manager of the Casual Classics retail buying group, had a similar response. "A half a day is better than none," he said. "I think it is something, but not the cure for good business."

Joe Logan, SCFMA executive director, said there were a couple of reasons driving the board's decision. "We elected to pursue longer hours on Friday based on feedback from retailers and to accommodate the ones who felt they needed more time to shop the market," Logan said. "The other factor was to have the Apollo Awards dinner at Navy Pier, which wasn't available earlier. We're finding that September in Chicago is becoming an increasingly popular destination."

Rehmert added, "With the Apollo Awards scheduled for Thursday night, we felt that it was important for the show to be open the next morning."

Fleischut acknowledged the second reason the change was necessary is the Apollo Award Dinner, which now includes honoring the Lifetime Achievement Recipients. "For it to be the meaningful event that it is, it can never be on the last day of the casual show but at a time during the week when attendance and participation will be at the highest level," she said. "A recommendation was made that perhaps it be on the second evening of the show to provide time for those honored to have the ability following the event to thank those responsible."

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