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VOL. 128 | NO. 252 | Monday, December 30, 2013

Tunica Furniture Market to Make Debut

By Michael Waddell

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The first Tunica Furniture Market is ramping up to descend on Gold Strike Casino Resort and Harrah’s Tunica Jan. 8-9, with approximately 60,000 square feet of showroom space displaying furniture available for purchase by retailers.

MORTON

“I tried to listen to the desires of the industry, and I decided to make the major plunge and start an alternative market at Tunica,” said Scott Morton, Tunica Furniture Market producer. “Usually people dread going to some markets because they are too long and there is nothing to do.”

Morton hopes to entice potential attendees with Tunica’s variety of entertainment and gaming options, as well as lower hotel room rates and a shorter length of stay than the five-day Tupelo Furniture Market, which has been held in Tupelo, Miss., for the past 20 years.

“The rooms this year range from $29 to $55 per night, and there are a variety of unique restaurants available without a wait,” Morton said. “With more than 1 million square feet of entertainment, I’m hoping to make the experience something people look forward to coming to every year.”

He expects more than 40 exhibitors from across the country to attend, including Serta Mattresses, Steve Silver Co., Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co., Powell Co., Prime Designs Upholstery and Fusion Furnitures Inc., with a wide range of purchasing prices from economy to higher end.

“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the response. We only have room to add a couple more exhibitors,” Morton said.

Bill Canter, Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau’s director of marketing and sales, said he believes making Tunica the location of the show’s first event will give the town an opportunity to show its expertise with new, progressive group events and ideas, and he thinks the market will have a positive economic impact on Tunica County and Mississippi.

“I hope this is the beginning of a good 2014 for us. This market is a unique event since it is more of a display show. It is one of the first of its type to come to Tunica that I can remember,” said Canter, who began working with Morton to plan the event more than 16 months ago. “Hopefully it will continue to grow over the next several years.”

The market is expected to bring as many as 3,000 people to Tunica.

The market will be attended by manufacturers, manufacturers’ representatives, and retail furniture store owners and buyers, and the show is intended for wholesale orders only, so sales to the public are not planned.

Morton lives in Nashville and has worked as a manufacturer’s representative for the past 37 years in Tennessee. He scheduled the event early in the year to capitalize on tax season and to be one of the first furniture shows of the year.

“I tried to listen to the desires of the industry, and I decided to make the major plunge and start an alternative market at Tunica.”

–Scott Morton
Tunica Furniture Market producer

“Tax season is critical in the furniture industry,” said Morton, whose father and brother also work in the furniture industry.

Attendees can expect games and prizes, including a $1,000 grand prize, laptops and iPads, along with a “Jackpot Party” with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

Shuttle service will be offered between the two casinos.

Adding the annual Tunica Furniture Market is part of a much-needed uptick in activity for the Tunica CVB.

“I think we’ve hit the bottom of the market. Things have been soft for a few years, but we are starting to see a little bit of growth with comparable numbers of meetings year-over-year,” Canter said. “Hopefully in due time we will start to see the overall number of attendees start to grow again.”

Canter would like Tunica to get back to pre-recession activity levels of 2006 and 2007.

“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “Much of this business is very cyclical, and I think we will start to see things start to come back. We have great facilities with appropriate spaces and amenities for events.”

Morton has already locked down dates for the same week next year for the 2015 Tunica Furniture Market, and he is considering expanding the show to twice per year.

“If this is successful, I’ve already talked to venues in Tunica about time slots during the summertime. It all hinges on how this first one comes off,” he said.

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