Friday, September 4, 2020 / by Ken Couture
The annual summer Las Vegas Market, a home furnishings trade show, opted to hold its event this year amid the COVID-19 crisis.
International Market Centers, a home furnishing showroom operator with centers in Las Vegas and Atlanta, decided to hold its Aug. 30-Sept. 3 event in person this year for its summer Las Vegas Market.
Buyer attendance was at 20 percent compared with that of previous years, though the tenants who opened up “were very satisfied with that,” said Bob Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers. The annual event usually brings in more than 40,000 people, including staff and personnel, Maricich said.
International Market Centers’ move was a departure from the course taken by dozens of other industry groups, which canceled or rescheduled Las Vegas trade shows or conventions.
The event, now underway at the World Market Center Las Vegas, required precautions amid the pandemic. International Market Centers canceled its exhibitor booths, converted live seminars to virtual events and enforced mandatory masks, social distancing guidelines and limited capacity for its permanent showrooms.
The showrooms, at approximately 5,000 square feet, are leased to tenants for five-year periods. A company, for instance, would build five to 10 bedrooms in its space.
The experience for buyers “would be like going into a store within a mall,” Maricich said. Most showrooms ask that buyers schedule an appointment.
Home furnishing companies usually showcase new products to potential buyers at industry trade events such as the Las Vegas Market, though that has changed since the pandemic.
Not looking for new, but anything
“These buyers aren’t looking for what’s new now,” Maricich said. “They’re looking for anything they can get their hands on and looking for immediate delivery of best-sellers that people have in inventory.”
With Americans spending more time in their homes and taking on home improvement projects, sales for the home furnishings industry are off the charts.
Many companies in the industry are reaping banner results. For instance, Wayfair, a Boston-based online home furnishings retailer, reported an 84 percent increase in revenue, to $4.3 billion, during its second quarter this year.
Maricich said the strong demand is here to stay, as more U.S. companies extend plans for employees to work from home and schools continue remote learning. More households are looking for “functional” essentials such as desks, office chairs and home decor, he said.
“This is probably the best retail environment that anyone has ever seen,” said Maricich.
International Market Centers has tentatively set its winter Las Vegas Market for late January. The company also operates summer and winter markets in Atlanta.
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