Furniture market wraps up

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Despite an obvious slowdown in traffic during the latter half of the Fall Tupelo Furniture Market, the biannual show was a success, its chief executive said.
V.M. Cleveland, the chairman and CEO of the market, said the fall show enjoyed a 20 percent increase in buyer traffic.
“What we’re hearing and seeing is that Wednesday and Thursday were really good, and many of the major players were here,” he said. “Friday was OK, but Saturday and Sunday was down. But we had more buyers overall, and we’re really pleased with the numbers.”
The show officially began Thursday and ended Sunday, but, as usual, many major buyers visited showrooms during the early part of the week.
Still, Thursday was described by more than one exhibitor as a reminder of the “old days” in Tupelo when showrooms and hallways were jammed with buyers and dealers looking for merchandise.
“Thursday was our best day,” said Cody Sewell of Dallas-based A&C Imports. “It was more like the glory days.”
Jerry Marlin, vice president of merchandise for upholstered furniture maker Prime Designs of Tupelo, also said Thursday was wide open.
“Starting at about 8:15 a.m., I didn’t get to sit down until after 5 p.m.,” he said. “It really was exciting – it reminded me of the old days.”
No doubt helping to boost the number of buyers was the Arkansas Home Furnishings Association, which brought in more than 400 of its members to the market, many for the first time.
Earlier this year, the group announced a partnership with the Tupelo Furniture Market to bring its dealers to Tupelo rather than hosting its own furniture market.
Cleveland said the market benefited by seeing an increased number of dealers from the association’s footprint that extends to Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
“It was our best attendance ever from that region,” he said.
By midday on Sunday, however, traffic at the market had slowed considerably, and many of the major showrooms were closed. Still, that didn’t stop exhibitors that stayed open from continuing to sell.
At A&C Imports, Sewell said overall business for his furniture and accessories company was “decent.”
“We made money, and that’s important,” he said. “And I had one person buy my entire showroom, so I’m happy with that.”
Virgil Henry, vice president of upholstery for Largo Furniture of Houston, Texas, said order-writing at the company’s full-line showroom exceeded expectations.
“We wrote more orders than the last market,” he said. “Traffic might have been down, but the order-writing was up, and that’s what’s important.”
With the fall market wrapped up, Cleveland said he hopes to carry the momentum to the spring show, which will be held Feb. 16-19.
Next year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Tupelo Furniture Market.
During the market’s 20th anniversary in 2007, the market gave away Toyota Highlander SUVs and other prizes, but Cleveland said details haven’t been finalized on how to celebrate the market’s silver anniversary.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com