TUPELO – Launching a company – especially one that makes furniture – in the middle of a recession might be considered lunacy by some, but Bo Robbins thinks otherwise.
“I think it’s a perfect time to get in because the economy is at or near the bottom,” said Robbins, president and co-owner of Fusion, a start-up based in Ecru.
“We feel like we’ll be in a good position once the economy starts improving, and there are signs that it is.”
Fusion is the brainchild of Robbins and his wife, Alison. The couple decided that the fall Tupelo Furniture Market was the right place and time to roll out their line of stationary sofas, chairs and sectionals.
The company has 25 employees, but that number will grow with demand. Robbins said he hopes to have 50-60 employees in six months.
Production at the former Southern Dreams plant begins next week.
“We’re trying to be a $9 million to $12 million company,” he said. “We’re not trying to be too huge.”
Fusion’s tagline is “where style meets value,” and Robbins said the company’s goal is to build and sell promotional furniture without the traditional promotional look. Instead, Fusion will blend more contemporary colors and designs with its products.
“It’s what consumers are looking for – not the same old tan and browns, but more colorful and interesting designs,” he said. “We’re not going to have the lowest price – we can’t do that – but we think we have something different at the right price points that will have appeal.”
Indeed, Fusion’s showroom on Thursday in Building V drew in buyers like Sadonna Patterson of Muscle Shoals, Ala. Patterson, a designer, was impressed by what she saw.
“I love everything in here,” she said. “We just got back from the market in Atlanta, and this is different and unique from anything we’ve seen.”
And some of Fusion’s visitors have been retailers from Furniture Today’s Top 100.
That kind of exposure is invaluable to a company hoping to make a splash.
“We’ve had a lot of retailers come in, and we’ve also placed some orders and the market hasn’t even officially opened,” Robbins said. “We’re drawing people in and word is getting around …. It’s exceeded our expectations.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unofficial opener at market draws buyers
The Tupelo Furniture Market’s Fall Market officially begins today, but buyers have been visiting showrooms and making deals since Monday.
While some exhibitors were finishing last-minute details on their exhibition space on Thursday, some showrooms were already bustling with activity.
“It’s been busier than the pre-market opening day of the last market,” said TFM Chairman and CEO V.M. Cleveland. “I’ve seen several (Furniture Today) Top 100 retailers and other big buyers.”
Cleveland said the Fall Market has more exhibitors than the Winter Market in January.
Also, some two dozen new exhibitors are showing in Tupelo. Five other exhibitors expanded their showrooms.
“January was a slow market but it was a sign of the times” Cleveland admitted.
But with the Tupelo Fall Market a month ahead of the Las Vegas Market and two months ahead of High Point’s Fall Market in North Carolina, Cleveland said buyers might be in the mood to place orders.
“Retailers are wanting to get product by October and November, and they might not want to wait until later to order,” Cleveland said. “We think we’re giving them a good opportunity to find good deals and good value in Tupelo.”
Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal