The inaugural Casual Market Atlanta exceeded buyer and seller expectations for its debut, July 10-13, 2023, at AmericasMart Atlanta, according to ANDMORE. The first Casual Market featured an elevated presentation of 150 permanent showrooms and temporary exhibits attracting furniture and outdoor/patio buyers from across the nation, as well as interior designers and gift/home retailers seeking cross-category sourcing and shopping opportunities created by co-location with the Atlanta Market.
“Casual Market Atlanta offered a bigger and better presentation of casual furniture and outdoor accessories to buyers from all over the country,” said Bob Maricich, ANDMORE CEO. “The new business opportunity created by the co-location of Casual Market and Atlanta Market was a benefit for both the casual furnishings industry as well as the gift and home industries.”
Better Buying Opportunities for Market Attendees
Buyers from furniture and outdoor/patio stores from across the nation converged at AmericasMart for the first annual Casual Market Atlanta. Attendees represented almost all 50 states and four international countries, and more than half of the Casual Market Atlanta buyers were first-time visitors to AmericasMart Atlanta. The first Atlanta-based event also drew a significant number of interior designers, as well as gift and floral/garden/seasonal retailers, who were shopping the concurrent Atlanta Market.
International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) board chair, Erik Mueller, participated in Casual Market Atlanta as both a buyer and seller – President and CEO of Watson’s, a patio store with 26 locations in the Midwest and Founder and CEO of Plank & Hide, a luxury home entertainment and outdoor furnishings brand respectively – giving him a unique perspective on benefits for both audiences.
“I thought the overall shopping experience from a buyer standpoint was tremendous. It was easy to shop and much easier to see the product,” said Mueller. “As for our Plank & Hide showroom, we have had a tremendous week. We introduced quite a bit of new product because we wanted to really make a splash and to excite the customer. The response we've gotten from retailers has been wonderful.”
Buyers responded positively to the market’s new venue, praising AmericasMart’s consolidated layout and the downtown Atlanta campus’s convenient location.
“This show has been so easy to shop,” said newcomer to Atlanta, Joel Huseby, of Becker Furniture (St. Paul, MN). “It’s my first time here, and I’ve found it extremely convenient to get around, especially to and from my accommodations.”
Casual buyer Donald Dilliplane, of Turner’s Furniture (Valdosta, GA), added, “We loved having the category consolidated with a narrow focus on several floors. It looked great and was easy to shop.”
Enhanced Showroom & Temporary Exhibit Offerings
The inaugural market in Atlanta featured nearly 50 permanent showrooms in AmericasMart’s Building 1. Spanning four floors, the purpose-built showrooms featured inviting glass-walled and brightly lit spaces which allowed casual and outdoor furnishings brands to highlight more product lines than ever.
“To be able to have twice the amount of showroom space and showcase our full breadth of product is truly exciting,” said Lindsay Schleis, VP of Business Development at POLYWOOD, a manufacturer of outdoor furniture made from recycled materials. “This space is a true reflection of our brand and who we are, so we are very excited for what Casual Atlanta has in store long-term.”
Some 100+ temporary exhibitors were presented across one-and-a-half contiguous, purpose-built tradeshow floors in Building 1, Floors 6 and 7. Outdoor sectionals, patio umbrellas, backyard firepits and more were among highlights of casual category offerings.
“The relocation of the Casual Market to Atlanta created excitement in the category, and retailers wanted to come see what we have to offer,” said temporary exhibitor Charles Emmons, EVP, sales and marketing at Windward Design Group. “Traffic in and around our booth was excellent, and buyers were looking at new products, so we're very happy with our performance this market. Eventually, we're going to want to transition to a permanent showroom here.”
Beyond exhibits, networking events like the ICFA-sponsored 65th Birthday Bash and the ICFA Awards Gala promoted an opportunity for the industry to gather and celebrate. The ICFA’s “Pink Out Atlanta” event created a visible demonstration of community with a multi-hued sea of pink-clad market attendees raising awareness and funds for City of Hope.
Additionally, celebrity interior designer Vern Yip addressed key trends in outdoor entertainment spaces to a standing room only audience.
“Both buyers and brands were buzzing with excitement that started day one of the Casual Market,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, executive director of ICFA. “Our at-market events were all well attended with industry collaboration, and the presentation that buyers and designers saw within showrooms was tailored to showcase the full range of their needs. The outside space is the new centerpiece of American living, and we are thrilled to have a significantly expanded yet cohesive display in Atlanta to showcase such a vital category.”
Crossover Markets Create New Opportunity
The first Casual Market Atlanta was presented concurrently with the semi-annual Atlanta Market. The co-location provided buyers and sellers across the casual and home furnishings categories access to more than 350 home and décor showrooms and 200+ temporary exhibitors with lighting, accent furniture, casual furnishings, rugs, wall décor, linens, textiles and more in AmericasMart Buildings 1, 2 and 3.
“Through the Casual Market’s co-location with Atlanta Market, outdoor suppliers gained visibility across a greater breadth of furniture and décor retail categories and interior designer channels,” added Maricich. “AmericasMart has served as a platform for buyer and seller connection for decades, and with Casual Market Atlanta we continue to broaden this objective.”
Future Markets Showcase Casual Offerings
The second annual edition of Casual Market Atlanta runs Monday, July 15 – Thursday, July 18, 2024, at AmericasMart Atlanta. Following approval by ICFA members, Casual Market Atlanta will co-locate with Atlanta Market through 2025. For information, visit CasualMarketAtlanta.com.
“The transition from Chicago to Atlanta has been good, and I've heard nothing but positive remarks from retailers and manufacturers. The ANDMORE team has friendly people greeting us at the entrances every day with a smile,” added Mueller. “Our gala attendance was up from past years in Chicago, and we also noticed a nice increase in our membership numbers. All in all, it has been super positive, and I expect that we will continue to grow here.”
With a new standard set for the casual marketplace, the industry now prepares for Outdoor Design Days in Atlanta, a collaborative design experience between ANDMORE and the ICFA from September 18 – 20, 2023. Outdoor Design Days will be a Fall sourcing experience geared towards regionally-based designers, as well as a last-chance buying opportunity for furniture and outdoor/patio retailers who may have missed the Casual Market Atlanta’s July debut. ICFAnet.org/OutdoorDesignDays
In addition to market-time visibility, 40 of the casual market showrooms also are part of AmericasMart’s Open Year Round collection, creating daily opportunities for regional buyers and designers to source and shop resources in the popular outdoor category.