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Here's What Wow'ed Me At Market

September 26, 2008

The September International Casual Furniture Market wasn’t as productive as I had hoped. I guess part of it was because I had been to the pre-market just two months earlier and not many of the majors introduced new product at the September market. The exception was Brown Jordan who waited till September to make their new introductions. Because of this, I was dependent on the temps to “WOW” me; but, to tell the truth, I was sort of underwhelmed by them. There was a lot of outdoor wicker mostly very contemporary or mid-century retro stuff. As much as I personally like both styles, they just don’t sell in my market. There were a few bright spots, though, and I thought I would share them with you.

My favorite accessory was the standing vertical outdoor fans from Lasko on the temp floor:

They have two styles, the Outdoor Living Fan and the Elegant Outdoor Fan. The main difference is the latter has a remote control. Both have a sort of “Mission” look and since they have accent lights, you could confuse them for a free standing lighting fixture. The product will work well here because not only do we need some relief from our sticky humid summers, the motion of the air will keep mosquitoes away.

Agio partnered with Disney and introduced two new designs, one based on the Disneyworld Grand Floridian; the other based on the Disneyworld Animal Kingdom Resort. I think this could be a great tie-in but I was not impressed by the product. However, they do have a new product, Calypso, which is an outdoor wicker. However, the resin weave is extruded to look like palm leaves and woven to look like sea grass. Very cool and different from anything else I saw at market. Unfortunately this design is not on their web site, yet.

Beach7, in the temps, had a line of outdoor wicker that did differentiate itself from others.

The resin extrusion has a much larger diameter and comes in a variety of natural looking colors including several multicolored weaves. The styles ran from somewhat contemporary to transitional to traditional. Although this look is similar to new introductions by Agio and Summer Classics; Beach7 has more designs and a broader range of "wicker" colors. It is a container only program.

It took a while on the temps floor but I finally got to the “WOW factor” booth. Neoteric Home just knocked my socks off.

The Cupid & Psyche Chair out of their Locsin Collection was the smartest design I saw during the market. That is not to say it is for everyone, but if you appreciate good design, you have to look at this . . . I guess you would call it a chair. Go to the web site and download their Contract Living catalog and go to page 117 to see what I mean. Hot!!!

I would also like to tip my hat to all of the exhibitors who entered their showrooms into the 2008 Merchandising Excellence Award. This award was established to encourage manufacturers to step up their display efforts at market. Not only do I look for new product when I go to market, I also hope to come back to my store with new ideas for displaying those products. My only chance to do that is at market and plain white showrooms just aren’t my style. The winners of the four categories were:

Lane Venture, permanent showrooms over 5,000 square feet. Like Disneyworld, Lane has crowd control down pat. It is a very large showroom that could be very confusing; however, they have it laid out so you can only go one way. The path they have laid out leads you past every item they are showing. You can’t miss anything!
O. W. Lee, permanent showrooms under 5,000 square feet. Great use of simple but visually dramatic things like the fountain with their logo on it at the beginning of the showroom. They didn’t use walls to create their vignettes; instead, they used carpets, drapes, portions of fences to create cozy spaces that made shopping a comfortable experience.
The Hammock Source, temporary accessories. Gosh, they stepped up their game more than anyone at market, I think. Great use of color and like O. W. Lee their relatively large temporary space was visually divided up into smaller, easier spaces to work.
Seaside Casual, temporary furniture. Again, another great use of color in both furniture and cushions. Lighting was a key factor of the space with good use of spotlights to bring your eye to important items.

The competition was tough and the winners can be proud not only to have won the award but also to have contributed to educating retailers about effective merchandising.

If you saw something at market that you think deserves mention, please let me know. I am but one person, very fallible, and I know I missed something.

Yours in confused retailing, Bruce