Summer Las Vegas Market Fosters Enthusiasm, Enhances Safety Protocols
Although it was decidedly smaller and quieter, the 2020 Summer Las Vegas Market delivered positive results with a modified format and extensive safety measures. Held Aug. 30–Sept. 3 at the World Market Center Las Vegas, the biannual gift, home décor and lifestyle event also provided a much-needed opportunity for industry interaction while taking an important step for future events in Las Vegas.
According to officials from International Market Centers, the world’s largest operator of premier showroom space for furniture, gift, home décor, rug and apparel industries, the event’s showroom-only appointment format took place in 40 percent of its permanent showrooms, with manufacturers, importers and representative groups showcasing more than 1,300 resources.
Attendance was at 20 percent compared to 2019 numbers, with 43 states represented and 76 percent of attendees coming from Western states.
Creating a safe and secure environment was a top priority for show management. Buyers had to pre-register for one of the two three-day sessions. Onsite measures included contactless badging, temperature screening, educational signage, showroom and elevator occupancy limits and the required use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which are all part of IMC’s Together Safely reopening strategy.
“One thing we did learn in Atlanta is that you can't remind people enough about the [safety] protocols, and being the first event in Las Vegas, there were a lot of eyes on us from the health department and the governor’s task force,” said Bob Maricich, IMC CEO. He also commented that IMC doubled its efforts in hygiene and mask enforcement since the Atlanta Market, held at AmericasMart in August.
Attendees entered through WMC’s new Expo Center, the $90 million, 315,000-square-foot facility set to officially open in January 2021. More than 90,000 sq. ft. of it was used for a registration area where it was easy to enforce social distancing as attendees got their temperatures taken and received a swag bag containing a mask and hand sanitizer.
Inside, the Market was decidedly quieter than its usual bustling iteration, but there still remained a feeling of enthusiasm and hope.
“We came for normalcy,” said Rebecca Johnson, owner of Astoria Vintage Hardware in Astoria, Ore. “We love coming and we felt like it was safe to come. I also have design projects going on and I needed to get motivated, refreshed and inspired.”
Johnson added that she missed the opportunity to see new products and designers in the Pavillions, the trade show portion of the Market that closed this summer, but plans to come back in January when the component returns.
Exhibitor Naomi Celestin came to Market because she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to capture buyer interest. “Anyone who came to the show is here to buy,” said Celestin, who owns Puerto Rico-based Restrung Jewelry. “We’ve had a decent show, better than expected.”
While connecting with buyers in the showroom, Celestin said she was also conducting virtual appointments as well as Facebook live sales events, which she expects will become a permanent part of her sales strategy going forward.
As the Market wrapped up, IMC officials said they were exploring options for bringing back the trade show portion of the event for the 2021 Winter Las Vegas Market, set for Jan. 24-18. Some of the possible features being considered include wider aisles, booths facing in opposite directions, one-way traffic flow and a separate “order management area.”
“The new [Expo Center] lends itself really well to implementing new layouts,” said Dorothy Belshaw, president of Gift at IMC.“These are raw ideas but there are a lot of tools we can use physically and digitally to ensure that the experience is safe but still really exciting.”
IMC plans to move forward with its fall Atlanta markets at AmericasMart: VOW | New World of Bridal, Sept. 15-17; Fall Design Week, Sept. 21-23; October Atlanta Apparel, Oct. 13-17; and Fall Cash & Carry, Oct. 27-29. High Point Market in High Point, NC, is expected to take place as planned Oct. 13-21.