By Alan Wolf
Thousands of furniture retailers and manufacturers braved searing heat and swarms of grasshoppers (yes, grasshoppers!) to make their annual pilgrimage to the Las Vegas Summer Market this week.
Besides nature’s challenges, the show was also beset by industry headwinds including import tariffs, soft sales, vendor reorganizations and marketplace disruption by direct-sale bed-in-a-box importers.
Together these factors took an additional toll on foot traffic at the World Market Center, which is traditionally light during the summer show, exhibitors and attendees told YourSourceNews.com.
But all that didn’t stop BrandSource members and staff from making their appointed rounds at the Market, which remains an important event for discerning new trends, cementing old ties and forming new ones.
As Michael Allen, VP Home Furnishings for AVB|BrandSource acknowledged, “There’s a lot of turmoil in the mattress industry right now, whether its suppliers or consumer shopping habits, and a lot of uncertainty in the bed-in-a-box category.”
As a consequence, “We’re here at Market looking at opportunities for BrandSource members and looking for ways to increase their floor traffic,” Allen said. That includes new suppliers, promotional vehicles and “some very exciting opportunities” for the balance of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
More immediately, BrandSource members will find a host of new resources for their home furnishings toolbox at the group’s Convention, running August 24-27 in Dallas. Among them, Allen promises numerous new suppliers; the introduction of a new Carrington Chase mattress collection from Sealy; and the launch of a BrandSource-exclusive bed-in-a-box program, replete with adjustable bases, called YouSleep.
“We’re offering our members a very comprehensive solution with great products and great pricing, that’s made in the USA, and whose features and benefits surpass many of the online players in the category,” Allen said of the YouSleep initiative.
He noted that the bed-in-a-box program can provide the perfect entrée into the high-margin mattress business for BrandSource members with limited floor space. “You can be in the mattress category with as little as 20 feet of wall space,” he said, and all products can be direct-shipped to the customer’s home in lieu of carrying inventory.
In addition, Allen and the BrandSource merchandising team have been working with AVB Marketing on “some exciting promotions” to help spur spotty floor traffic in this industry-challenged year.
“I’m very exciting about the upcoming Convention,” he said.
Also making the rounds at Market was the team from Lichti’s TV, Appliance & Furniture Center, including owner Max Lichti, his son Darrin, and Glenda Walker, who was named a Top 10 Salesperson of the Year finalist by AVB|BrandSource two years ago.
Lichti’s attends the Las Vegas Summer Market and BrandSource shows exclusively to see “what’s new” in home furnishings, Walker said. “We want to be able to see and touch the product; it’s hard to picture something in a catalog.”
Walker said she’s on the lookout for “unique pieces” for the showroom floor and will also use her time at Market to follow up on several special orders for customers.
The company first added furniture to its TV and appliance mix 17 years ago, and expanded the business in 2007, Max Lichti said. Since then furniture and bedding have come to represent about 50 percent of sales, with much of the 43,000-square-foot showroom filled with mattresses, motion beds, TV stands, motion and stationary recliners, kitchen tables, and decorative accessories like lamps and rugs.
Despite their busy agendas, Lichti’s, along with other BrandSource dealers, vendors, regional managers, and marketing and member services staff, made time for a first-night reception at a Yard House restaurant and brew pub to celebrate the start of Summer Market, duck out of the heat, and avoid those nasty grasshoppers.
Other group highlights included a $250 American Express Gift Card Giveaway to three lucky members whose names were randomly drawn.
The Las Vegas Summer Market wraps up Aug. 1.
YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.