DENNIS SEID: Earlier furniture market is likely

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

The Spring Tupelo Furniture Market was barely over when an upstart entrepreneur said he was starting a furniture market of his own in Tunica.
Scott Morton, a former sales rep for a furniture company with ties in Northeast Mississippi, apparently has been talking about it for quite some time.
He said he went to the High Point market last fall and spoke to people there, then followed up with a visit to the Las Vegas Market in late January.
Then he showed up in Tupelo, ostensibly to recruit exhibitors for what he plans to be a 175,000-square-foot show. Only companies with closeouts and special deals need apply, he said.
At $2.50 a square foot, he said the maximum an exhibitor could have is 5,000 square feet. The Tunica Furniture Market is planned for Jan. 8-9 next year, spread out over eight locations.
Morton said he’s had to turn down bigger companies who wanted more space.
His thinking is the more exhibitors there are, the better.
Personally, if I have someone willing to pay for space, I sell it.
I asked him how he’ll staff the show. Who will help exhibitors move their merchandise or answer their questions? Who will help attendees looking for assistance?
Morton said a manager will oversee each location, while he and his business partner will be “floating managers” to help out where needed.
It’s a skeleton crew, he admits, but he apparently will rely on hotel staff to help.
Still, he has to pay for the food, beverages, entertainment and venues – along with the hotel staff.
So where will the money come from to finance this project?
Morton and his partner have been doing business for more than 20 years, and they’ve both been in the furniture industry for even longer.
He’s also relying on exhibitors paying a nonrefundable 25 percent deposit on their space. Final payments are due by December.
So assuming everything comes together and Morton can get his show off the ground successfully, there will be an early January furniture market.
It’ll be ahead of the tax refund selling season, a plea I’ve heard many times from some exhibitors and retailers in Tupelo.
However, looming in the background is the Tupelo Furniture Market, which said it’s looking into moving its spring market. It tried a January market a couple times a few years ago, and frankly, they didn’t do too well.
But times – and markets – have changed. What happened five years ago matters little today.
So I fully expect Tupelo to move its market. Maybe back to January. And maybe even making the Tunica market a non-factor.
Contact Business Editor Dennis Seid at dennis.seid@journalinc.com or (662) 678-1578.