2015 Casual Market Chicago reports strong attendance

Exhibitors, attendees give positive feedback

CHICAGO – Vornado|Merchandise Mart officials reported that the 2015 Casual Market Chicago, which was held here last month, welcomed 500 new attendees with strong representation in key U.S. regions including the Southeast, Northeast and Pacific Coast.

For more than 35 years, Casual Market Chicago has been the most complete collection of furniture, trends and accessories for outdoor living. In addition to seeing the latest products, attendees participated in special events and presentations by top industry leaders. Show organizers reported positive feedback from the temporary exhibitors and permanent showrooms.

“At this year’s show, we saw an increase in attendance, including buyers and retailers who haven’t attended the market in recent years,” said Susan McCullough, SVP, Vornado|Merchandise Mart.

“We have had a flurry of leasing activity over the past 12 months and now boast more than 47 permanent tenants and welcomed just under 200 temporary exhibitors to Casual Market Chicago,” said Byron Morton, VP, Vornado|Merchandise Mart. “The importance of this growth segment for mainstream furniture retailers is likely a key component to our success."

Many permanent showroom representatives and exhibitors had very positive feedback:

Daniel Jelley, SVP of product design and development, Veranda Classics by Foremost – “In our new Merchandise Mart showroom we were able to double our square footage and show more of our products. As in all real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. This is where Casual Market Chicago is, and we need to be where the action is. My advice to retailers and other manufacturers is if you’re not coming to the Casual Market, then you’re not seeing 90% of the product in the casual industry.”

Eric Parsons, president, Gloster Furniture – “We added a fresh look to the showroom, and there has been a lot of energy with our new look and products. Buyers are coming to Casual Market Chicago because it is the pinnacle of outdoor furniture.”

Greg Martin, owner, Kolo Collection, Atlanta – “You’re crazy if you don’t visit Casual Market Chicago. There is a lot of synergy between the exhibitors and showrooms and sharing of ideas. Between the roundtables and seeing different showrooms and seminars, it has been a great learning process for us.”

Ward Usmar, SVP, TUUCI – “We’ve experienced great traffic and nice presence from all over the country, Canada and Latin America. We had a major showroom expansion, adding 30% more space. … The show is good because every major player exhibits, important retailers attend, and the overall feeling is positive. Casual Market Chicago is the center for the outdoor furniture industry.”

Elaine Smith, owner, Elaine Smith Inc. – “We have seen buyers from across country from Canada to the south. Traffic is amazing, and being surrounded by the best of the best neighbors has really elevated our brand. We have been in the casual industry for 11 years, and the transition to a permanent space has been very exciting.”

Gary McCray, president, Klaussner Outdoor – “There has been a lot of traffic in the building since opening, and this market is the place to be for the casual furnishings industry. All of the manufacturers are here – furniture, rugs, lighting, umbrellas, everything is here in one place on three floors. The Mart has done a lot of work to bring more dealers in, and we think there are 400 new dealers we will see throughout the show, which is important for us as manufacturers.”

Joe Devon, owner, Yellow Leaf – “This targeted show is the ideal market for us. We’ve always seen a lot our competitors here, lot of synergies between other products, and it’s a natural fit for us to be here. It’s definitely quality over quantity.”

Manufacturers unveiled their latest products in a multitude of categories including furnishings (wrought iron/aluminum, cast metal/cast combination, rattan/wicker/woven materials, tubular materials, resin/fiberglass and wood), umbrellas, hammocks, grills, outdoor lighting, outdoor carpeting and rugs, garden accessories, tabletop, statues, fountains, outdoor bars, outdoor hearth and heating products, alternative tabletops, and pool and spa accessories. 

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