Traffic was down, but the mood at the LasVegas Market April 11-15 was up — as in upbeat.
At the industry’s first market of another pandemic-impacted year, the Las Vegas event gave bedding producers, suppliers and retailers a chance to meet together face to face rather than over Zoom calls or other digital platforms. And it was an opportunity that the attendees embraced. There is no substitute for in-person meetings, several exhibitors said.
“The mood of the market is that we are a step closer to getting back to normal,” said Chris Bradley, executive vice president of consumer products for NCFI Polyurethanes, a Mount Airy, North Carolina-based mattress industry supplier. “As the numbers of vaccines are rising, we are seeing more people willing to have traditional, in-person visits.”
“Our mood is ‘excited,’ ” added Stephen Chen, president of Mlily USA, a mattress and pillow producer owned by Healthcare Co. Ltd., in Rugao, China. “We are very, very positive. We said this would be a better market than many people thought. People haven’t been out in a year and they are ready to go.”
“The people at this market are more optimistic about their businesses,” he continued. “The retailers need products and new things for their consumers.”
“We were very excited to be back at the Las Vegas Market this year and especially to have the chance to showcase our new Sealy and Sealy Posturepedic product range in our amazing new Sealy showroom,” said Brent Pfister, vice president of marketing for Tempur Sealy International Inc., the Lexington, Kentucky-based bedding major. “While attendance was, as expected, lower than previous years, we were very pleased by the turnout, by the positive feedback that we — as the market leader — received for participating in the Las Vegas Market and by the rave reviews we’re hearing about the new Sealy lineup. We are looking forward to the summer market in August, and to the opportunity to again showcase all of our Tempur Sealy brands.”
“Everyone is so happy to be on the other side of the mountain,” said Alan Hirschhorn, executive vice president of GhostBed, a bedding supplier based in Plantation, Florida. “There has been a terrible case of cabin fever for people locked away for the last 14 months. Some people made appointments at the last minute. We would like the market to be populated with more people, but we are feeling pretty good about things.”
Billy Curtright, U.S. national sales manager for Magniflex, an Italian mattress manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Miami, said retail attitudes have shifted sharply in recent months. “The overall mood of our dealer base is super positive,” he said. “That is a 180-degree shift from seven months ago. Everything has turned around. Dealers are pushing our brand because of the availability of our products and our in-stock situation.”
Laurie Tokarz, president of Restonic, a mattress licensing group based in Buffalo, New York, said: “The traffic was, as expected, significantly down. However, the retailers we had the pleasure of meeting with were upbeat about business, were impressed with our new Scott Living Hybrid introductions and anxious to learn more about our marketing assets. Everyone was enjoying the in-person interaction after over 12 months of social distancing. The expectation of our visitors was for the business boom we are experiencing currently to continue through 2021.”
“Although my expectations were low, I was still pretty disappointed in the overall traffic and the number of exhibitors that chose not to show up,” said David Jaffe, president of Rize, a division of Cleveland-based Mantua Manufacturing Co. “Of those attendees we talked to, they were still very bullish on their business and the overall economy as things continue to open up.”
Jon Stowe, managing director for E.S. Kluft & Co., a luxury bedding producer based in Rancho Cucamonga, California, said rising numbers of vaccinations and easing pandemic restrictions in many states led retail buyers and merchandise managers to push their management for permission to attend the Las Vegas Market.
“Several major retailers had been saying ‘no, no, no,’ ” Stowe said. “But in the last two weeks, they got the green light to travel. Because of all the price increases, there is a need for retailers to come here and figure it out.”
He also said that showing at the Las Vegas Market makes an important statement in the bedding industry. “If you want to be taken seriously,” Stowe said, “you have to be at the Las Vegas Market. Having a showroom here shows that you are a player.”
Jeff Gober, executive vice president of sales of the West Coast for Talalay Global, a latex supplier and finished products manufacturer based in Shelton, Connecticut, was pleased with the attitudes he found at the market. “It’s a very positive mood for the future of our industry,” he said. “There is a lot of energy around this market and a lot of hope that things will get back to normal. The new normal might be half the previous travel and more Zoom calls.”
“The foot traffic is down, but the quality has been very, very high,” said Johnny Griggs, chief operating officer for Ergomotion, a Santa Barbara, California-based motion base specialist. “We have had longer meetings, with great substance. These have been more serious meetings, not just a quick handshake or a fist bump.”
Shaun Pennington, president of Diamond Mattress, a bedding manufacturer based in Compton, California, said the mood in his showroom was ebullient. “We are killing it,” he said. “Multiple people are saying we are one of the busiest showrooms at market. Our luxury beds are a hit. Our team is optimistic and positive.”
Reverie, a Detroit-based sleep products supplier, also saw upbeat retail attitudes in its showroom, said John Wanat, vice president of sales. “Our meetings had a very positive feel,” he said. “We had really fruitful discussions with the retailers who attended this market. We feel this has been one of the most positive markets we’ve ever had. We had more time with our retailers.”
Wanat said retail attendance at Reverie was greater than expected. “We had appointments scheduled and we had a fair amount of walk-in traffic,” he noted.
“The mood of market was positive, and the traffic flow was very good for us,” said Joe Paviglianti, executive vice president of sales for Southerland, an independent sleep products manufacturer based in Nashville, Tennessee. “In fact, it was more than we anticipated. Plus, those who came into our showroom were ready to place orders. Not only did we see existing customers eager to expand placements of our products in their stores, but we also saw new customers wanting to add our products to their lineup. Some even placed larger orders than they normally do to thwart supply chain disruptions and to cover anticipated demand through the end of the year.”
“Counting both the appointments we booked with dealers before the market and the amount of unplanned visits from buyers who came by, traffic was very strong,” said Eric Jent, executive vice president of sales for Corsicana, a leading mattress manufacturer with headquarters in Corsicana, Texas. “The whole market experience was very upbeat, both for our team there and the dealers we spoke with. It validated for us that our business will remain on the upswing for the rest of this year.”