ATLANTA, Ga. — The first Atlanta Market of 2023 saw many permanent outdoor showrooms in AmericasMart open for buyers, and the soft launch set the stage for the debut of the Casual Market in July.
“This is our soft opening, and we’re getting all of the kinks worked out,” said John Pinion IV, the national sales manager for Lloyd Flanders. “Everyone is bringing their A-game to the market and is in lockstep setting up nice showrooms.”
Noting that the casual buying season has become more “fluid than ever” since the pandemic, Pinion said that lead times and product availability at Lloyd Flanders is as good if not better than it was pre-COVID. He added that the company continues to tell a “premier experience” story that includes looks, quality and comfort.
“Everyone is aware of what they like and don’t like now, and people have projects in mind for inside and outside. Our customers come to us for looks and versatility.”
More to come
Bryan Echols, senior vice president of sales and marketing, agreed and explained that new furniture groups, a new swatch board and a new color palette will be introduced at July’s Atlanta Market.
“We went up 25% on our space in this new showroom, and it allows us to let the collection breathe,” Echols said. “We’ll have art pieces up, create venues in front and do as much as we can to play with color.”
The increased interest in the outdoor category has continued post-pandemic, and Echols says the shift is likely to continue in the near future.
“The idea of gathering together, and creating a space for these gatherings, really took off during the pandemic. Now we all know our neighbors better than before, and we’re still enjoying our outside spaces.”
Mamagreen’s Mark Osborne, director of residential sales, said that his team is seeing more designer-driven business from buyers looking for medium-to-high outdoor furnishings.
“Mamagreen is a fairly young brand in the U.S.,” Osborne noted. “Our foundation is in teak, and about 90% of our materials come from reclaimed sources. We’re conscious about minimizing our footprint and we’re seeing a strong response to that.”
Osborne added that he thinks the casual category will continue to do well in 2023.
“During the pandemic, people were nesting and living comprehensively outdoors,” Osborne said. “Heating lamps and firepits have made outdoor living more a year-round proposition, so dining tables and seating groups will remain popular.”
Happy with Atlanta
Henry Vanderminden IV, president at Telescope Casual, said that the Telescope team was in normal market mode for buyers at AmericasMart.
“We were 100% ready,” Vanderminden said. “This was not a soft launch for us.”
Noting that his father and grandfather were involved with ICFA from the organization’s earliest days, Vanderminden said that, while the Casual Market enjoyed a rich history in Chicago, he believes the new location for the outdoor category’s renowned annual event offers opportunities.
“I think we’ll gain regional buyers here because of the ease of the airport. There are more than 150 direct flights in the U.S. and 75 or so international flights into Atlanta, and we’re expecting to see new faces at July Market.”
Like several of his counterparts, Vanderminden is enthusiastic about continued demand for outdoor furnishings in the future.
“Consumers have embraced the concept of the outdoor room,” he said. “They found a nice solution to enlarge and define their homes without the confines of walls or building permits. There is still pent-up demand for the products and the category, both in residential and commercial spaces.”
Bambrella Chief Operating Officer Cameron O’Connor said that residential and commercial buyers are on Bambrella’s customer list as well. As an “upper-scale product at a moderate price,” the Bambrella line offers a unique value proposition and Atlanta buyers responded during market.
“The quality of visitors to our showroom has been excellent,” O’Connor said. “We’ve talked with several buyers who have specific projects they are working on and sourcing for while at market.”
Jensen Outdoor’s use of ipe wood from Brazil and Bolivia in the company’s outdoor products is one hallmark of the line, and President Eric Parsons said that the material is “FSC-certified and part of our DNA” along with a comfort story that lauds sitting “in” instead of “on” furniture.
“Affluent consumers want their outdoor living spaces to be an extension of who they are,” he said. “If they are comfortable indoors, they want to be comfortable outside.”
The Jensen Outdoor team is already preparing to share the line with new buyers in Atlanta, and Parsons said he thinks the casual industry’s new home will be a good one for the company.
“IMC is in the tradeshow business, and they market to get people into the buildings,” Parsons concluded. “I think this market is going to give us exposure to new customers, and we look forward to telling our story.”