Excitement, traffic peak early in Vegas

Opening night Rod Stewart concert packs the World Market Center

The World Market Center brought in Rod Stewart to kickstart the July 2008 Las Vegas Market and the opening of its third building, the 2.1 million-sq.-ft. Building C. For a little while, his opening night concert on July 28 appeared to be the boost exhibitors wanted.

“Monday and Tuesday were incredibly strong days,” said H. Alex Boyer, vice president of sales and marketing for Two Palms, who is pictured on our home page. “Monday was the biggest opening day we’ve ever had in Vegas.”

Boyer said traffic in the company’s Building B showroom declined on Wednesday and never recovered through the end of the market on Friday, Aug. 1.

Brent Ford, national sales director of Casual Decor by Kaven, noticed the same traffic pattern in his temporary space in Building C. But after spending several Las Vegas Markets in a temporary booth at the Sands Convention Center, he didn’t complain. He also had modest expectations coming in. 

“Traffic was much better than I thought it would be,” he said. “The buyers who were there were there to buy. There weren’t many casual observers.”

There were, however, a number of international buyers looking to take advantage of favorable exchange rates.

“International buyers seemed to be the ones who were most serious about buying,” said Ford, who noted a particularly strong contingent from Mexico.

On the domestic front, the Las Vegas Market did attract out-of-region buyers, but exhibitors said the turnout was still predominantly West Coast. For Chris Bruning of GroovyStuff, which has a showroom in Building A, that’s not a problem. 

“We’re sold Vegas will open up the West Coast market for us,” Bruning said. “Business is tough right now, but these buildings aren’t going anywhere and will be here when things turn around.”

Many  buyers in Las Vegas showed a greater willingness to take chances on new purchases, despite the economy. 

“We saw more interest in contemporary looks,” said Douglas Chan of King’s Rattan, Inc. “I think buyers in general aren’t looking for traditional right now because that’s what everyone else has. They definitely want something different.”

One of the best examples of the kinds of chances Vegas buyers took was a Two Palms line the company loosely calls Just for Fun. The teak furniture pieces are fashioned from the roots and stumps of the trees. The line has the kind of unusual design that turns heads. Hopefully, the excitement the product creates for buyers carries over a little longer than the Rod Stewart concert did at the market.

Chris Gigley | Contributing Writer, Casual Living

Chris Gigley has covered the home furnishings industry for more than 20 years as an editor and contributing writer.