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Temporary Exhibitors Like Vegas Turnout

By Home Furnishings Business in on February 2006 A dynamic venue, better marketing by show organizers and a sense of more buyer familiarity has exhibitors at the Las Vegas market's temporary show space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center very pleased with business this week.

Cresent Fine Furniture brought a new direct container program to bear in its Las Vegas debut at Mandalay Bay, and Richard Tomkins, director of sales and marketing, said Thursday was the first day with any extended lulls in buyer traffic. He has three ideas why business was so good.

"First, I believe the temporary space has been marketed more heavily by the World Market Center - that's one of the things (WMC Director of Marketing) Dana Pretner has focused on," he said. "Second, a lot of the customers we talk to find this space easier to shop than the big building. You can tell within 30 seconds if something's of interest, and you don't have to wait in line to get into a showroom."

The location itself, Mandalay Bay, was Tomkins' third key.

"This is a destination in the sense that it has a casino, great restaurants and entertainment, and people come here to end their market day and then enjoy the facility," he said. "A lot of buyers are staying here as well, and they're using the temp spaces as a starting or ending point of their day. We've been very busy every morning and evening."

Don Eisen, key account manager for case goods importer Philippe Langdon also credited the space's open layout for strong visibility for his goods.

"We had more customers in this space than the total number of customers we'd seen in the two years we've shown this line," he said. "This market, even with separate venues, is so compact. In High Point, buyers spend so much time traveling from place to place. For the size space we're in, this was as busy as any market I've been a part of. I think this market put Philippe Langdon on the map."

At rustic furniture specialist Gonzalez and Associates, West Coast Sales Manager Robert Gonzalez was already filling out an application for space at the July show.

"I told them to show me the floor map right now because I want to grab a high-traffic spot early on," he said. "We had a great market in July, and that's why we're back, but we did hear mixed emotions from other temporary exhibitors last summer. This week has been outstanding."

Linda Owen, Riverside's vice president of marketing, said that set up was tough this week, but she's pleased with the results.

"We had less time to get ready, but the cooperation from the exhibitor services and show management was very good," she said. "We had great attendance in July, but it's up at least 15 percent to 20 percent for us. Orders are up, and the final counts aren't in - we have another day to go."

Copeland Furniture definitely plans to return, even if maybe for every other market until such time it has permanent space in Las Vegas, said Tim Copeland, president.

"At a minimum, Las Vegas is a great West Coast market," he said. "California, in terms of the furniture business, is a nation unto itself, and a lot of those retailers just don't come to High Point. It's an opportunity to see a lot of people we wouldn't get to otherwise."

Copeland, a Vermont case goods manufacturer, also saw new customers from Oregon and Washington during its Las Vegas debut.

Intercontinental, the former Ashley plant in Brazil now going out on its own under new ownership, found Las Vegas a worthy venue for its first-ever showing at a U.S. market.

"The traffic has been incredible. Our business is container-only, but a lot of retailers have come in and kicked the tires," said Alessandro Franco, chairman and president. "It's a matter of us qualifying who we'll be dealing with. A lot of what we're doing here is getting feedback on what we're bringing to market. We've been an exclusive supplier for so long we haven't had that direct customer input."

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