Marietta, Ga.—Market Maker Events (MME) plans to move forward with its regional Flooring Markets for the first quarter of 2021. The decision was based on a combination of factors, the show said, including exhibitor and retail attendee surveys showing support for the event as well as strict measures show management plans to put in place to ensure the safety of all involved.
“We fully intend to host our in-person regional markets,” said Lori Kisner, managing partner of MME. “The majority of exhibitors and attendees can drive to our markets, and as long as we’re able to bring our industry together for these extraordinary events safely, we will. We’re talking with our exhibitors and attendees every day, and I can confidently say our industry is ready to move forward. We would like to thank all of our exhibitors that are committed to supporting our industry and answering our buyers needs by exhibiting in our regional markets.”
The dates for the respective events are as follows:
- Southwest Flooring Market: Jan. 7-8, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
- Southeast Flooring Market: Jan. 28-29, Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta
- Mississippi Coast Market: Feb. 25-26, Mississippi Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, Miss.
The dates for the Southeast Flooring Market (SEFM), which in the past kicked off in early January, were adjusted to accommodate attendees’ needs. “We are excited about moving our Southeast market, as it reflects our survey results supporting the move of our market to the end of January,” said Barbara Stroup, managing partner, MME. “This gives buyers enough time to get through the holidays and begin settling into the new year.”
Lacy Carver of Carver Floor & Tile, based in Tuscaloosa, Ala., said she welcomes the change. “I feel that moving the SEFM dates to later in January is beneficial, even going forward. This gives us a little more time to wrap our minds around the new year before diving into product introductions.”
Moreover, Carver said she feels SEFM is necessary for dealers to see new products in person. “Digital imaging is great for some purposes and has come a long way over the years,” she explained. “However, no camera or computer can capture the beauty of texture and color like the human eye. With the overabundance of products on the market today, it is impossible for reps to get all the new products around to customers for them to see. The online world is already a great competitor for local dealers with showrooms. Omitting market shows and in-person meetings will only increase the decay of our industry.”
Other dealers said they agree with the decision. Angelica Weber, project coordinator with Details Tile & Remodeling in Garland, Texas, for example, has attended the Southwest Flooring Market for several years now as is looking forward to 2021. “Last year we were able to attend the AT&T stadium tour, and that was amazing,” she said. “We love seeing our current vendors and meeting new vendors; it’s a great time for our design team to see what is available. It’s also an awesome time to see our friends in the industry.”
Even distributor attendees—many of whom work in conjunction with their retail customers to drive participation in the regionals—said they are amped up. “We are planning—as of now—to show at the Atlanta regional event,” said Dunn Rasbury, director of business development at A&M Supply, which is headquartered in Marietta, Ga.
MME management stressed the fact that health and safety considerations are critical components in moving forward with the regionals. According to Kisner, the MME team is working diligently with convention center executives, vendors and state and local authorities to design the in-person experience. A preparedness plan with comprehensive health and safety guidelines and protocols will provide attendees with the safest experience possible.
“At this time, it’s mandatory for all attendees, exhibitors, building staff and show management staff to wear face masks inside each exhibition facility and maintain appropriate physical distancing,” Stroup said. “Masks will be available at registration upon request.”
Additional safety measures include:
- Increased hand sanitizer stations positioned through-out the convention center
- Increased aisle widths to help promote safe physical distancing
- Daily, heightened cleaning of all public spaces, exhibit halls, meeting rooms and registration areas
- Designated buyer hours for “at-risk” attendees
- Arrival appointment times to reduce congestion at the entrance and on the market floor
- Contactless registration process with pre-mailed badges
- Directional traffic in order to help manage traffic flow and encourage physical distancing
- Exhibitors are encouraged to design open booths to allow for easy entry and exit points
- Attendees are encouraged to make appointments so there is enough meeting time to show all needed products, features and order placement
These measures may adapt and change to limit potential spread effectively, according to management. “We will provide regular updates about the Flooring Markets to help all of our attendees make plans,” Stroup explained. “As we’ve seen over the last six months, situations can change overnight. As show organizers, we are working to apply what we learn to produce a comfortable, productive market environment and a successful experience for everyone.”
Attendees like A&M Supply’s Rasbury is confident the measures being taken will keep attendees safe. “Our reps have been in the field full-time since the first of May, with almost no negative reaction from our customers,” he said. “So, I do think many of our customers will be anxious to meet and see new introductions in a properly controlled environment.”