While the normal hustle and bustle of the Atlanta Market summer edition may have been quieter last week, without the market’s trade show element, vendors and buyers visiting the permanent showrooms reported a strong, successful and safe experience amid the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
According to initial data from International Market Centers, as of Monday, August 17, five days into the show, which ends August 18, the market’s individual buyer attendance was 20%, and 22% for buying companies, as compared to last summer’s attendance.
In addition, IMC stated that all regions of the U.S. were represented. However, the Southeast generated the largest proportion of attendance at 89%, with 11% representing the Midwest, Southwest, West and Northeast regions in aggregate. IMC stated that it expected such numbers as those in attendance from the Southeast had the advantage of closest proximity to the market.
“What we set out to do with this market was to provide a platform for commerce, for those that were willing and had a need for it,” said Dorothy Belshaw, chief marketing and digital officer, IMC. “We wanted to make sure we could connect them appropriately and safely, and in a way that was productive to kick off recovery for them.”
Vendors and buyers that are attending Atlanta Market told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® they were determined more than ever to do business as efficiently, productively and safely as possible in order to move forward.
“To be viewed as a solid supplier, you have to be there in good times and bad,” said Rainer Kuhn, president, Freeheart Drinkware. “We certainly feel that being here advances our opportunities with the accounts that made the effort.”
Kuhn reported the company witnessed traffic a bit above their expectations on the first day of market and the quality of the accounts has been good overall.
“Order volumes are solid,” he said. “The retailers in attendance seem bullish on Q3 and Q4, and are investing in inventory albeit conservatively. They have said that business has been good for them despite the virus, and that they have found creative ways to keep the business positive.”
Bobby Griggs, vp/Heritage Steel, while not in attendance, reported the brand’s local rep, located in the Kasperzak & Associates showroom, had a few quality meetings at the event. Griggs stated that Kasperzak encouraged manufacturers to stay home to minimize capacity and help local reps feel more comfortable in the showroom.
“We have secured a few new accounts as well as added new SKUs to a few existing customers,” said Griggs. “So overall, it has been somewhat productive even though I have not been there.”
Jura too relied on its local reps to handle appointments in the Synergy Sales showroom. According to David Shull, evp/marketing and communications, Jura, while there was less traffic, the company’s reps reported buyers that attended placed orders for fall and also opened a few new accounts.
Kelly Wenzel, national sales director of Beatriz Ball, had similar feedback and noted that, although attendance was down, there was always somebody to talk with.
“Beatriz Ball did write orders and did open some new accounts also,” she said. “Some of the orders were very strong, but with fewer customers, we had to work intensely during the 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. day.”
Wenzel also noted that the company’s new Ivystone showroom location on the 11th floor, with its open layouts and modern display, helped to draw in buyers and the company shared its newest SKUs with them, including the Sierra Modern metalware collection.
In line with reports from IMC, both Kuhn and Wenzel stated that they met with retailers from the Southeast, most of whom drove to Atlanta and were able to work the show within two days, as it was easy to navigate.
Overall attendees have been wearing masks, as well as face shields, and observing health and safety precautions set forth by IMC, vendors stated, which provided an extra layer of security for all.
“The daily temperature check and mask checking is rigorous too. I have to say that it is about as safe as you can make it given the situation,” Kuhn said.