Exhibitors, buyers, gear up for fall furniture market

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The hectic pace for this week’s Fall Tupelo Furniture Market probably isn’t much compared to the past four months for Townhouse Furniture.
Its factory was destroyed in Smithville during the deadly April 27 tornado. The company scrambled to move within days to Mantachie to restart operations, and in June, it bought another furniture manufacturer in Okolona.
But the company’s resilience is a testament to the company’s workers – and its customers, who stayed with the company.
Ron Spivey, one of Townhouse’s managing partners, said business has been brisk, and this week’s market is another chance to show the company is quite alive and well.
“We got back in business pretty fast and it’s been busy all year; we’re still looking for employees,” he said.
And if all goes well at this market, Townhouse – and scores of other exhibitors – will find themselves busy filling orders.
The market officially begins today and ends Sunday, but buyers have been visiting showrooms since Monday.
Hoping to attract its share of order-writers to the market is Glenn Moody, sales manager of Chattanooga-based Tennessee Enterprises. The company has been a TFM exhibitor for nearly all of the market’s 24-year history.
“The bottom line is the consumer and what you can do to draw them in and generate business,” Moody said. “And people still keep coming here to Tupelo, despite what you hear.”
Among the early buyers at the market on Wednesday were Jeff and Deedra Hollis, who own Town & Country Furniture in Iuka.
Having attended the Las Vegas Market less than two weeks ago, the Hollises were looking for good deals in Tupelo to help drive traffic at their store.
“Business has been tough for a while, but it seems to have been picking up lately,” Jeff Hollis said.
Furniture retailers have slogged through a tough economy, and furniture manufacturers have been in the same boat. With fewer stores to service, companies are pulling out the stops to attract business.
Harden Manufacturing of Haleyville, Ala., fills 30,000 square feet of exhibition space, the largest at the market. Brian Stupp, Harden’s director of marketing, said the company is “taking every opportunity” to drive buyers to its showroom.
“We’re hoping to have a better market than any market we’ve had here,” he said. “This is the market for us. … it’s our wheelhouse, serving Mississippi and Alabama, and it’s critical to our business.”
As for Townhouse, the company is growing, despite the economic worries. Townhouse’s sister companies include Madison House, Madison Park and the recently added Madison Ridge.
Townhouse acquired the former Seminole Furniture company in Okolona to its portfolio in June and renamed it Madison Ridge, Spivey said.
As for the market, Spivey said he expects a good one.
“We’ve had our biggest customer here already and we’re expecting a good showing,” he said.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com