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On the rebound?

It’s that time of year again: the Tupelo Furniture Market is set to kick off its four-day event on Thursday, and vendors are optimistic that sales will be better this year with the recession’s slow-down.

With an average attendance of 30,000, twice a year the Market almost doubles the population of Tupelo, considered the upholstery manufacturing capital of the world both in pieces produced and volume of dollars. Buyers come from 50 states and 38 foreign countries to both the February and August markets.

Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed said, “We are optimistic about it. Generally speaking, most of the people that I talk to, whether they’re manufacturers or retailers in the furniture industry, say they are in better shape than they were this time last year.”

The health of the furniture industry is tied closely to the housing market. Market traffic has been down in the last couple years, but Market marketing director Janice Coleman has also heard talk from vendors that things should be a little bit better this year.

“Not a lot, but a little bit and a little bit works,” Coleman said.

The Tupelo market’s competition is the High Point Market in North Carolina and the Las Vegas Market.

“But we have our own niche at being the promotional to medium market,” Coleman said. “Our niche fits the current economy. We’re a value market. People come here looking for the values. We’re an order-writing market where you can come here and casually see your vendors.”

There are a significant number of new and growing companies that will be participating in the Feb. 2011 Market, including three new Mississippi start-up companies: Synergy Furniture from Okolona; Newport Upholstery from New Albany; and, Dallas Furniture from Tupelo.

Synergy  Furniture owner, Ben Galjour, 26, said his company has 35 employees and has been in business for two and a half weeks. He is looking forward to making contacts at Market.

“I’m hoping I can jump start with a little bit of tax business,” Galjour said. “I’m a small manufacturer. I’m hoping to network with some of the bigger retailers.”

He believes Synergy has an updated look that will make them stand out:  “There’s definitely a generation gap in the furniture business. I’m not doing the same old promotional furniture.”


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About Clay Chandler

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