Arlington, Texas—Flooring retailers from 15 states turned out for the Southwest Flooring Market (SWFM), held April 8-9 at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Southwest regional show was the second of three Market Maker events planned for the first half of 2021. Much like the first MME regional, which took place March 11-12, at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, show management took steps to assure the safety of all attendees and vendors alike.
Barbara Stroup, managing partner of Market Makers, said attendance at the SWFM exceeded expectations, considering the impact COVID-19 had on live events. She added that feedback from exhibitors was “very strong,” with many citing the quality of retail buyers, most of whom came from the Southwest and drove to Arlington. “Our exhibitors did a great job of scheduling in their buyers to ensure they had more quality time to spend with each one,” Stroup noted.
Lori Kisner, managing partner, said flooring dealers cited the need to source new products for 2021 as the primary reason for attending the SWFM. “Dealers were eager to get back to meeting their suppliers in person and to take advantage of market specials and new product releases,” she explained. “Since most dealers in the flooring industry have been out to their customers’ homes throughout the past year, they are more inclined to come out to a live event. Dealers also reported that it’s critical to see and touch products before making a purchasing decision.”
Kisner added that the flooring markets have provided retailers with conveniently located live events that are close to home and allow them to conduct business for the new year.
Exhibitors ready for the return
Visiting with their customers in-person as opposed to virtually was key for some exhibitors attending SWFM. “It was very exciting to see new and existing customers face-to-face after [such a long time] apart,” said Tina Emery, national sales manager for Versatrim. “There was more traffic on the morning of April 8 than we had samples to give out. We were able to see regional customers again that didn’t have to travel far and were able to come meet with us in person.”
Wendy Booker, vice president of marketing and product development for AHF Products, said the show “had a lot of energy and momentum, with retailers sharing just how busy they currently are in their showrooms. I loved the [feedback] we received for some new products we have in development as well as engaging with customers,” she told FCNews.
Retailer attendees also shared positive experiences. “Everyone was so helpful, and I was so thrilled to see some of my go-to vendors in attendance,” said Mialou Stevens, account manager for Malibu Floors. “Plus, getting to familiarize myself with some other flooring vendors I haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet. With so many companies in the flooring industry, and almost all of them updating products quarterly, it’s hard to visit all of them in order to educate yourself on product knowledge. It is very convenient to have everyone under one roof.”