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  • Jennifer Marks

Viva Las Vegas

Here's the skinny on the new Las Vegas Market. For furniture exhibitors, it was a smash — especially for those exhibiting in the single completed Las Vegas Market Center showroom building.

For home textiles exhibitors … Well, one heard every opinion under the sun. And in late July in Vegas, there was plenty of sun.

First, the layout. The centerpiece of the new market was the new 1.3 million-square-foot, 10-story World Market Center building. Roughly 250 yards or so away: three large convention-style tents amounting to another 350,000 square feet of exhibitor space. Finally, a 10-minute ride by shuttle bus delivered visitors to the Las Vegas Convention Center, which housed a full hall of temporary exhibitors and, on the opposite side of the center, 150 or so high-end textiles and decor exhibitors in an area dubbed Interior Lifestyles USA.

Here's how the attendee flow broke out: World Market Center — hub of the universe; adjacent tents — decent traffic; Convention Center temporaries — sporadically decent traffic; Interior Lifestyles USA — purgatory.

That said, it must be noted that a handful of textiles exhibitors in purgatory were very happy indeed with the business they turned up, while some in the big tents on the Market Center property complained they weren't seeing anyone worthwhile.

And that's the thing about the country's newest home furnishings mega-show. This one casts a wide net as far as buyers are concerned. Target buyers are furniture stores, independent home décor boutiques, rug dealers, mattress retailers, interior decorators/designers, architects and contract/hospitality types.

Was the show uniformly true to its promise to offer only high-end goods? No. But it was mostly true to that standard.

The biggest sore spot for exhibitors in the temporary spaces: the exorbitant union fees. Although basic booth space was pretty reasonable, the union service charges were rapacious, according to many suppliers. Need to swap out the table in your booth? $300. Need to move a few boxes of merchandise from Point A to Point B? $600.

Obviously, there are things that need to be worked out here.

But the overarching positive for the show was Las Vegas itself. Readily accessible by air from most cities in the country, the city is also extremely service-oriented and adept at moving huge volumes of people around town with a reasonable minimum of effort. And to Market Center's credit, 17 host hotels offered early booking rates ranging from $52 per night at The Sahara to $169 at The Bellagio.

For suppliers that are chasing volume business in the mass- and mid-tier market, this may never become a key show. But for everyone else, and anyone who is exploring alternatives outside the big boxes, it's worth visiting at least once. If only to kick the tires.

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