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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.


  • A new look at digital opportunities

    The outdoor furnishings and grill industries have been experiencing radical changes in recent years. Foot traffic is down in stores while online research continues to rise and smartphones are becoming more important to the consumer’s shopping habits. Manufacturers are mostly steering clear of e-commerce (selling directly online) to better protect their brick-and-mortar dealers, but are investing in improvements to their websites in order to provide information to customers. They encourage dealers to have an online presence and often direct consumers to local dealers. Some manufacturers are more active than others in social media efforts to enhance their brand to ... Read More
  • On the hunt for outdoor products

    During the High Point Market, I heard a couple of buyers on the bus talking about the excitement of being on the hunt. Some shoppers think of it as a sport while others feel anxious about making orders of products that may not have the return on investment they know is necessary to keep their business healthy. While the mindset of retail buyers was as far-ranging as those of the homeowners they are trying to predict, the general mood of the High Point Market was nearly as positive as the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, held in Chicago in September ... Read More
  • Strategy for the future of casual

    With ongoing improvements in the housing and labor markets in addition to total U.S. retail sales (excluding automobiles) topping a record $2.2 trillion on an annual basis, there’s good reason for optimism at the fall furniture markets. The positive mood buoyed the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market last month as the announcement was made that the show will remain in Chicago through 2022. Despite that reassurance, more casual furniture manufacturers continue to try new exhibition strategies. For example, Pride Family Brands and the Outdoor GreatRoom will make their debut appearance at the High Point Market this month ... Read More
  • 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