Next week, buyers from all over the country will head to Chicago's Merchandise Mart for Casual Market Chicago. The massive trade show, which runs from Tuesday Sept. 12-15, will showcase new offerings in casual and outdoor furnishings from some of the industry's top manufacturers.
Heading to the Windy City for the Casual Market Chicago? Check out our guide and get ready to see some great products.
Getting to and around Merchandise Mart
For those not familiar, Merchandise Mart (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #470) is Chicago's design powerhouse. Once the largest building when it opened in 1930, the Mart, as it's commonly known, stretches across two city blocks and stands 25 stories high.
The Casual Market mainly takes place in what the Mart calls its Design Center. The Design Center includes floors 6, 14, 15 and 16, and its showrooms are open to interior design professionals and buyers. Floors 6 and 14 host luxury furniture while floors 15 and 16 have causal and outdoor furniture.
All four floors will be open during the Casual Market, but the official floors of the market are 7, 14, 15 and 16.
What's great about the Mart is that it's one of the easiest buildings to get to in the city, which means you can stay in any neighborhood or hotel you want. While you can take an Uber or taxi to the Mart (there isn't a driver in the city who doesn't know that address), you can also hop on the "El" (Chicago's subway) and take the Brown or Purple line directly to the Merchandise Mart stop. All El lines connect to the Loop, so you can transfer at from any line to the Brown or Purple lines (Purple only runs into the Loop during rush hour times).
Once you're in the Mart, you will need to check in on the first floor. You will be led into the line if you arrive at the Mart from the street, but you will have to go down the escalator or stairs to check in.
After you check in, take the escalators to the second floor and grab and elevator. If you're feeling like getting in those 10,000 steps, you can also follow the signs and take the stairs to floors 7, 14, 15 and 16.
Keep in mind, there will be plenty of buyers, so it may be faster in many cases to take the stairs. There are no escalators between the higher floors, but if you're only going between floors 14, 15 and 16, then walking between them shouldn't be an issue.
What's new at Casual Market Chicago
There's a lot to see at this year's Casual Market Chicago.
- Zephyr by JANUS et Cie: Zephyr is a sleek outdoor seating group for contemporary environments that embodies the mesmerizing movement of larger-than-life transportation. Ideal for active homes and commercial environments, Zephyr boasts stackable, low-maintenance chairs with a long-lasting finish.
- Softscape Collection by Brown Jordan: Softscape offers casual sophistication with clean lines that combine innovation, function and color. The collection offers a complete line of outdoor furniture with Suncloth strap dining, bistro and lounge seating and deep seating cushion pieces.
- Ojai Collection by Zuo Modern: The Ojai Collection is designed for outdoor living with an elegance of an upholstered indoor look. The pieces are upholstered in White Champagne-colored Sunproof UV-resistant fabric, ideal for any outdoor use.
- Stardust Shade by Treasure Gardens: The 10-foot pop-up Stardust shade features a contemporary star-shaped canopy inspired by geometrics as well as celestial bodies.
Three new tenants will also join the Mart's Design Center:
- Eddie Bauer Home Outdoor
- Elizabeth Grace Outdoor (debuting at Casual Market)
Where to eat
Don't spend your time at Casual Market Chicago hungry. While there are some food options within the Mart, you'll find fantastic dining options within blocks of the market. Check out these local favorites.
Starbucks (The Mart)
You don't have to venture outside for a little caffine boost. There's a Starbucks on the first floor of Merchandise Mart. Grab your favorite coffee or tea and get back to the action!
222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #470
For tacos and a mid-market margarita, head to to Mercadito. One of the city's top authentic Mexican restaurants serves up signature tacos and fresh salsa and guacamole every day. This hot restaurant is located just a block and a half away from the Mart, so it's a quick walk for busy marketgoers. Call ahead to make a reservation so you spend less time waiting and more time shopping.
108 W. Kinzie Street
Chicago French Market
If you're willing to take an Uber or taxi, the Chicago French Market should be your destination. The European-style indoor market offers grab-and-go meals from all types of local and artisan food purveyors. From savory grilled cheese sandwiches to fresh French macaroons, this hidden Chicago gem is well worth the taxi (or even a walk if you brought comfortable shoes and the weather prevails).
131 N. Clinton Street
Ready to shop Casual Market Chicago? Share your thoughts with us!