Jul 19, 2023
Casual Market Atlanta offered cross-category sourcing to buyers

The inaugural Casual Market Atlanta debuted July 10-13 at AmericasMart Atlanta, with an elevated presentation of 150 permanent showrooms and temporary exhibits, attracting furniture and outdoor/patio buyers from across the nation as well as interior designers and gift/home retailers, according to ANDMORE.

The Casual Market was co-located with Atlanta Market, aiming to promote cross-category sourcing.

“Casual Market Atlanta offered a bigger and better presentation of casual furniture and outdoor accessories to buyers from all over the country,” said Bob Maricich, CEO of ANDMORE. “The new business opportunity created by the co-location of Casual Market and Atlanta Market was a benefit for both the casual furnishings industry as well as the gift and home industries.”

Attendees represented almost all 50 states and four international countries, and more than half of the Casual Market Atlanta buyers were first-time visitors to AmericasMart Atlanta. The first Atlanta-based event also drew a significant number of interior designers, as well as gift and floral/garden/seasonal retailers, who were shopping the concurrent Atlanta Market, according to ANDMORE.

International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) board chair Erik Mueller participated in Casual Market Atlanta as both a buyer and seller — president and CEO of Watson’s, a patio store with 26 locations in the Midwest, and founder and CEO of Plank & Hide, a luxury home entertainment and outdoor furnishings brand — giving him a unique perspective on benefits for both audiences.

“I thought the overall shopping experience from a buyer standpoint was tremendous. It was easy to shop and much easier to see the product,” Mueller said. “As for our Plank & Hide showroom, we have had a tremendous week. We introduced quite a bit of new product because we wanted to really make a splash and to excite the customer. The response we’ve gotten from retailers has been wonderful.”

Buyers responded positively to the market’s new venue, praising AmericasMart’s consolidated layout and the downtown Atlanta campus’s convenient location.

“This show has been so easy to shop,” said Joel Huseby of Becker Furniture and newcomer to Atlanta. “It’s my first time here, and I’ve found it extremely convenient to get around, especially to and from my accommodations.”

Showroom & temporary exhibit offerings

The inaugural market in Atlanta featured nearly 50 permanent showrooms in AmericasMart’s Building 1. Spanning four floors, the showrooms featured glass-walled and brightly lit spaces.

More than 100 temporary exhibitors were presented across trade show floors in Building 1, Floors 6 and 7. Outdoor sectionals, patio umbrellas, backyard firepits and more were among highlights of casual category offerings.

“The relocation of the Casual Market to Atlanta created excitement in the category, and retailers wanted to come see what we have to offer,” said temporary exhibitor Charles Emmons, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Windward Design Group. “Traffic in and around our booth was excellent, and buyers were looking at new products, so we’re very happy with our performance this market. Eventually, we’re going to want to transition to a permanent showroom here.”

Beyond exhibits, networking events such as the ICFA-sponsored 65th Birthday Bash and the ICFA Awards Gala promoted an opportunity for the industry to gather and celebrate. The ICFA’s “Pink Out Atlanta” event created a visible demonstration of community with a multi-hued sea of pink-clad market attendees raising awareness and funds for City of Hope.

Additionally, celebrity interior designer Vern Yip addressed key trends in outdoor entertainment spaces to a standing-room-only audience.

“Both buyers and brands were buzzing with excitement that started day one of the Casual Market,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, executive director of ICFA. “Our at-market events were all well attended with industry collaboration, and the presentation that buyers and designers saw within showrooms was tailored to showcase the full range of their needs. The outside space is the new centerpiece of American living, and we are thrilled to have a significantly expanded yet cohesive display in Atlanta to showcase such a vital category.”

Crossover markets

The first Casual Market Atlanta was presented concurrently with the semi-annual Atlanta Market. The co-location provided buyers and sellers across the casual and home furnishings categories access to more than 350 home and décor showrooms and 200-plus temporary exhibitors with lighting, accent furniture, casual furnishings, rugs, wall décor, linens, textiles and more.

“Through the Casual Market’s co-location with Atlanta Market, outdoor suppliers gained visibility across a greater breadth of furniture and décor retail categories and interior designer channels,” Maricich said. “AmericasMart has served as a platform for buyer and seller connection for decades, and with Casual Market Atlanta we continue to broaden this objective.”

Future casual markets

The second annual edition of Casual Market Atlanta runs July 15-18, 2024, at AmericasMart Atlanta. Following approval by ICFA members, Casual Market Atlanta will co-locate with Atlanta Market through 2025.

“The transition from Chicago to Atlanta has been good, and I’ve heard nothing but positive remarks from retailers and manufacturers. The ANDMORE team has friendly people greeting us at the entrances every day with a smile,” Mueller said. “Our gala attendance was up from past years in Chicago, and we also noticed a nice increase in our membership numbers. All in all, it has been super positive, and I expect that we will continue to grow here.”

The industry now prepares for Outdoor Design Days in Atlanta, a collaborative design experience between ANDMORE and the ICFA from Sept. 18-20, 2023. Outdoor Design Days will be geared towards regionally-based designers, as well as a last-chance buying opportunity for furniture and outdoor/patio retailers who may have missed the Casual Market Atlanta’s July debut.

Additionally, 40 of the casual market showrooms also are part of AmericasMart’s Open Year Round collection, aiming to create daily opportunities for regional buyers and designers to source and shop resources.

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