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Casually Speaking

Cinde W. Ingram
Cinde W. Ingram: Casually Speaking
Hi, this is Cinde W. Ingram and I'm the Editor in Chief of Casual Living and Garden Decor. Each week I hope to use this blog space to stay in touch with our readers. I want to know what you think about new products, markets, the retail climate and, most of all, Casual Living. Let me know what's going on. Check out my latest below.

 

  • Passion and promise meet as Casual Market returns to Chicago

    Catch your breath. It’s time for the casual furnishings industry’s biggest buying market. Inside our September issue, you’ll see a sampling of the products being introduced this month at the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago. You can take a dip into the color trends that are developing for the 2015 marketplace. Also inside those pages is our exclusive research report to provide details of 100 Powerhouse Retailer businesses that offer outdoor furnishings in the United States. Casual Classics, the industry’s largest member-owned buying/design cooperative, describes how its members are responding to the ever-changing ... Read More
  • Accepting growth forecasts, changing minds

    Attendance was up 22% over last year at the ICFA Preview Show in Chicago, according to Vornado/Merchandise Mart’s post-show report. With all the showroom relocations on floors 15 and 16 plus different configuration of hallways, it was difficult for industry veterans to tell there were actually more attendees in the building. Many had speculated that attendance was down. The Preview Show was one of the three major summer tradeshows introducing new casual furnishings products to buyers last month. The July 15-17 show opened the same day the Atlanta market closed, and it ended just over a week before ... Read More
  • Channeling consumer dynamics

    Summer has finally arrived but unlike the old song, the living is never too easy. Change is happening so fast, it’s hard to keep up with the pace. There was a time when the backyard was considered complete when it had a barbecue grill, a picnic table and a few folding chairs. Over the past decade, the outdoor living trend turned a corner from what some considered a fad to become a permanent fixture of the American home. So now, the largest room in the home is more likely to be outdoors. In a recent study from Saber Grills ... Read More
  • Keep on smiling and selling

    “That’s something you don’t see very often,” a man commented as he passed by me at the HD Expo. My sense of curiosity wouldn’t let me keep walking without asking, “What’s that?” “Your smile,” he said simply. OK, that answer took me by surprise. I had expected him to be referring to one of the new products, the eye-catching displays or even some of the fashion-forward outfits worn by designers, buyers and exhibitors. Instead, he brought it down to the personal level. Keeping things personal, with an element of inspiration or a bit of non-offensive humor ... Read More
  • Economic warm up

    My trip to the beach for Easter weekend was a cold, rainy reminder of the pent-up demand to move outside that everyone in the outdoor furnishings industry has been clamoring for. After an unusually cold winter, all I wanted was to feel the sand beneath my feet, enjoy the surf and bake in the sun for a couple of days. My sister-in-law had invited us to her home at Holden Beach, N.C., but my husband couldn’t go because he had to work. Our son had been begging for a couple of months to take a break from his ... Read More
  • Warming up with the economy

    Economists were quick to dismiss a government report that the first quarter economy was weaker than previously thought. They shrugged it off like a dirty shirt, but the cold weather and severe storms across the nation last month may have had them reaching for extra cover. As the snow, ice and flooding fade into memory, the much anticipated and long-delayed spending by consumers should help to invigorate the economy just in time for the spring outdoor furnishings and grilling season. After noting the negative impact weather was having on economic data, Doug Handler, chief economist at IHS Global Insight told ... Read More
  • Gather around the fire

    Barbecue has variations around the world, but the whole lifestyle surrounding it seems to have taken a strong foothold in America. Legend has it that Christopher Columbus and other European explorers liked the Caribbean practice of digging a pit into the ground, putting in a big pot to catch dripping juices of meat cooked above it and using hot coals to prepare a feast. The Taino are credited with naming it “barbacoa” for sacred fire pit. Fire pits and barbecue are still at the center of special occasions. Think of all those reunions, picnics, church functions or tailgate get-togethers, not ... Read More
  • Changes bring opportunities to build business

    As many of us in the casual industry have an opportunity to gather together this month in Florida, we will be focused on lifestyle and business changes that are underway today as well as changes on the horizon.Although I don't know whether we can expect to see fire pits burning on cool evenings during the time we will meet in Orlando, I talked with Agio National Sales Manager Mike Gaylord and a few Agio dealers to collect their viewpoints on the growth of the fire pit/chat group category. While they agreed those sales are on the rise ... Read More
  • Building relationships that last

    Hopes for a Happy New Year have been exchanged for the past few weeks between family, friends, co-workers and people we communicate with regularly in business relationships.Sometimes we feel so close to the people we work with that they become lifelong friends and the workplace becomes like an extended family.Other people in the industry, we may see only once or twice a year at tradeshows. When our paths cross in those rare moments, we often greet each other fondly with hugs and warm wishes. Within the home furnishings industry, long-lasting business relationships are often compared with family ties ... Read More
  • Sharing positive outlooks

    After enjoying double-digit sales increases this year, many industry leaders were optimistic in making their predictions for 2014.The economy and housing industry have been moving in the right direction for the past few months. We have seen mortgage rates stay relatively low, stimulating demand for housing at the same time the cluttered foreclosure picture was clearing. At the same time, the median home price has shown double-digit, year-over-year increases. Household balance sheets are improving. Overall, the unemployment rate has continued to improve in a slow and sustainable way. Furniture analyst Jerry Epperson, a founder and managing director of Mann ... Read More
  • Blending in outdoors

    Designers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers are doing it. Some are just doing it in a bigger way. Others are going the distance by making sustainable, recyclable or earth friendly choices. Even outdoor cooking is marrying indoor and outdoor practices.What once appeared to be completely opposite now looks surprisingly similar as the boundaries of the American home have blurred to bring the indoors out and the outdoors in.At the recent High Point Market, attendees were quick to find uses for a display of outdoor furnishings and fire pits. Some shared meals at an outdoor dining table. A few relaxed ... Read More
  • Turn Up the Heat

    Changes in distribution channels continue to be a hot topic for discussion within the casual furnishings industry. Some outdoor furniture manufacturers are focused on full-line furniture retailers, who are shopping the High Point Market this month. Those vendors hope to attract buyers' attention to furnishings for outdoor living spaces.A growing number of manufacturers have hopped on the bandwagon by offering a selection of fire pit styles. Most of those fire pits add ambience and warmth to outdoor rooms, but some fire pit tables can just as easily be used indoors. Technology and innovation are helping to erase the boundaries ... Read More