New venue bodes well for Southwest market

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Dallas—The Southwest Flooring Market debuted at Globe Life Field here Jan. 12-13, and according to Market Maker Events, producer of the show, the switch from AT&T Stadium made a huge difference. Lori Kisner, managing partner, told FCNews attendance was up more than 37% from 2022 and the show had eclipsed 50% of 2022’s attendance in the first two hours.

“The layout is much better because we’re connected to Texas Live, we’re connected to the Loews hotel,” she said. “So it’s a campus environment versus being off on our own at AT&T. Here it is easy to get to and parking is free. So it’s all very user-friendly. Also, the layout is much easier for buyers. It takes nine minutes to walk it if you are not stopping. At AT&T it was about three times that.”

This year, 56 exhibitors—up slightly from last year—showed their wares at the market. According to Kisner, however, it’s not about the number of exhibitors; rather, it’s about number of brands since at least 10 distributors comprise the 56. “That’s why we send out information on what brands are exhibiting, because each distributor is showcasing multiple manufacturer brands. I would say we’re close to 200 brands at this point.”

Interestingly enough, Kisner said this year the market attracted more new exhibitors (15) than ever before, and five returned after taking a year or two hiatus. “I think the fact that more people are coming to this market was a draw,” she said. “And then, there are always companies that decide to leave the show and set up shop at a hotel. That’s a really hard thing to do if you’re not a big company with a big draw. It’s hard to get attendees to come here, go to the Shaw market, go to other hotels. This is a much better value proposition for a company that can’t get that draw on their own.”

While Kisner was “feeling good” about the Southwest market, she feels next year will be even stronger. “We all know we still have another year of getting back on track. We all feel like 2024 is the year that we all will be back to pre-COVID-19. A lot of people are already back to that.”

So how does the Southwest Flooring Market grow? “We grow it by convincing the outliers to come in,” Kisner explained. “There are people who are sitting in hotels right now. If they only want to work their existing accounts, fine, but they’re not getting the benefit of these new retailers that have shown up here—dealers who have just gone into business or even existing customers who are looking for new lines.”

Of course, the other goal is to grow retailer attendance from this year’s 1,300. The Southwest market attracts dealers primarily from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and Kisner estimates the show attracts 30% of them. So there is opportunity there.

“The key is getting our exhibitors to help partner and get the word out,” she said. “If a rep can knock out 25 appointments here, that could save him two weeks of travel. That’s why trade shows exist—to make it more time organized for the reps.”

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Jan. 23/30, 2023

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