By Dennis Seid
At least 40 companies are expected to show at the inaugural Tunica Furniture Market in January, its organizer said.
Scott Morton, a longtime furniture manufacturer’s sales representative, proposed the idea earlier this year.
His pitch – hosting a furniture market ahead of the lucrative tax season. The idea is that many smaller retailers – and manufacturers, too – want to have merchandise in stores during the peak of tax return season.
“Despite a lot of doubts and people calling me crazy, the Tunica Furniture Market is happening,” Morton said.
The market will be held Jan. 8-9 at several locations in Tunica. Harrah’s is the primary host site, but other exhibition space is available at Gold Strike Casino, Sam’s Town, Hollywood Casino and the Tunica Arena.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest and positive response from people in the industry who said this has been needed for some time,” Morton said.
The Tunica market will precede the Las Vegas Market (Jan. 26-30) and the Tupelo Furniture Market (Feb. 6-9).
The companies committed to Tunica so far include familiar names like Vaughn-Bassett, Powell Co., Serta, Collums, Med-Lift& Mobility, Kids World, Posturecraft, Fusion Furniture, Prime Designs and others.
Bo Robbins, the founder and president of Ecru-based Fusion, said he was willing to give Tunica a shot.
“I started my company back in the middle of the recession, and people thought I was crazy and told me I’d never make it,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect out of Tunica, but I wanted to give it a shot, to let him know that I know exactly where he’s coming from.”
Robbins also said the timing of the market was ideal, citing the need for smaller retailers to be able to get their products ahead of the busy selling season.
“I think the earlier date will help them, because a lot of them can’t leave their stores in the middle of February,” he said.
The Tupelo Furniture Market had initially moved its spring market back to January, but moved it back to the first week of February after re-evaluating the move.
Morton said he’s never wanted to compete with Tupelo, but wanted the markets to complement each other.
“I’ve said all along there’s no reason why we can’t help each other,” he said. “I haven’t told anyone not to go to Tupelo, and I won’t.”
And Robbins said he’s not abandoning Tupelo either. He debuted Fusion at the Tupelo Furniture Market in 2009.
“Tupelo’s been good to us, and we’re committed to Tupelo,” he said.
But Tunica offers another opportunity to sell to those smaller retailers who can’t make it to Tupelo’s later market dates.
“That’s exactly who we made this market for,” Morton said.