For the first time in 15 years the International Surface Event (Surfaces 2022) will include every major flooring manufacturer on the show floor as an exhibitor. With that as the draw, flooring retailers are expected to turn out in droves to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to see the latest and greatest flooring products under one roof.
FCNews spoke to several seasoned Surfaces retailers who plan to attend Surfaces 2022 to glean tips for shopping strategies.
Capitalize on missed opportunities
In most years, scores of Carpet One and Flooring America retailers would skip Surfaces under the presumption that they got all their product needs from CCA Global’s winter convention, which usually falls within two weeks of Surfaces. However, the cancellation of CCA means some of its dealers will be attending Surfaces 2022 instead.
“Due to the cancellation of the CCA show, we’ll be forced to spend more time with vendors in Las Vegas,” said Casey Dillabaugh, president, Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, Boise, Idaho. “Despite many of the [big mills] having regional shows, the fact that they’ll all be in the same place at the same time is highly advantageous. Shaw Floors’ returning to the show this year is also a huge benefit.”
Prior to becoming part of Carpet One in 1997, John Taylor of Taylor Carpet One Floor & Home in Fort Myers, Fla., attended Surfaces yearly. After he joined the co-op, he did not feel the need to attend Surfaces on a regular basis. That’s changed for this year. “Because the Carpet One/CCA convention was canceled, we believe the benefits will be far more this year and will work the show a bit harder than if we had attended the CCA convention,” Taylor explained.
Appointments are a must…
Attending Surfaces without scheduled appointments is a waste of time, and flooring retailers say they are too busy to fritter away such a precious resource. “I have always made appointments with manufacturers to make sure we use our time most efficiently,” said Deb DeGraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich. “One thing I did learn when making appointments is now I consider booth numbers and where each appointment is in relation to one another. After a year of racing from one end to the other and back we have gotten wiser in our planning.”
DeGraaf said she typically reserves one day to wander the show and check out booths and products that it currently does not have in its portfolio.
…however, don’t box yourself in
Among the more strategic retailers when it comes to covering Surfaces is Sam Roberts, owner of Roberts Carpet and Fine Floors in Houston. Roberts used to fill his schedule with appointments but no longer finds that useful. “I make an appointment for each morning when the show opens; the rest of the day is spent walking the show and stopping in to visit all my major vendors,” he said. “If they are busy, I move on and come back. I also use that time to check out vendors that I am not doing business with that appear to have interesting things to see. People do not run on time. That used to throw my day off and would often put vendors and other dealers in an uncomfortable position when I would arrive.”
Observe safety protocols
Retailers attending Surfaces are no strangers to going to shows during the coronavirus pandemic. The National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) has held several meetings since the pandemic began, as have other groups. With the Omicron variant at large, dealers are taking many different approaches. One is a business-as-usual strategy.
The president of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America’s, for example, said the variant “will not change how we approach the show or our interactions.” Ditto for Penny Carnino, COO, Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile and Hardwood, Tulsa, Okla., who remarked, “We don’t plan to cover the show any differently. We always make appointments with the people we plan to see. In regard to COVID-19 or variants, we don’t plan to do anything differently.”
In the same vein, while acknowledging that COVID-19 “is real and has to be taken seriously,” Taylor added, “thankfully we live in a state (Florida) where we have been able to stay open and work almost as though things were normal. We will respect the rules of the state [of Nevada] and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Beyond that, we do not plan on doing anything differently.”
Some dealers are adopting a more cautious approach. As a retailer from Canada, which has urged its residents to avoid non-essential travel outside the country, Raffi Sarmazian, managing director of Sarmazian Bros., Cambridge, Ontario, plans to exercise caution. “We will be careful and wear masks as often as possible,” he said. “Hopefully we don’t catch the virus, or we won’t be allowed back into Canada.”