TUPELO, Miss., June 26, 2012 -- Everybody in real estate knows the old adage – location, location, location. But it seems only V.M. Cleveland understood that a relatively small strip of land resting on the far west side of Tupelo, Mississippi could ultimately become a hotbed of business trade opportunity for the furniture industry.
Flash forward a quarter of a century and many successful years of operation and one will find six interconnected, impressively sized buildings, housing close to two million square feet of open exhibit space and permanent showrooms. All sitting on what is now considered prime real estate in the proverbial perfect location.
Twice each year for roughly the last 25 years, the furniture industry's manufacturers and service providers have converged in Tupelo to showcase their wares at the Tupelo Furniture Market. Consequently, the furniture market's buyers, big and small, have shown up each spring and fall to see and learn first-hand about new products and services that are available for them to purchase and sell at their retail stores.
"Most people didn't know it at the time we started and still may not, but North Mississippi has a strong furniture manufacturing base," Cleveland explains. "More upholstered furniture is produced in Northeast Mississippi than anywhere else, and it is widely considered the upholstery capital of the world."
According to Cleveland—who, not surprisingly, is also a very successful real estate developer—the furniture market is closely tied to real estate. So, as one might imagine, the last several years have been challenging for the industry. However, Cleveland says that early indications for this year's fall market, August 16-19, are very promising and that this bodes well for the industry. "Our attendance numbers are up considerably compared to last spring and fall at this point before the show. Also, we have pretty much sold all of our showroom space and our open exhibit space is filling up fast. These are great indicators."
Indeed, many agree that the furniture business is finally trending positive again, however slightly. And many industry experts believe that now and in the near future, manufacturers will be offering more promotional furniture alternatives for retailers to sell to price-conscious consumers. "Promotional" is an industry term for low- and mid-range priced furniture, a segment for which Tupelo's market events are best known.
Janice Coleman, who has worked in the furniture industry for close to 30 years and is currently the marketing director for Tupelo's events, says Tupelo is once again perfectly positioned to take advantage of another market opportunity. "Most of the industry's upholstery for promotional furniture and many large manufacturers of promotional furniture are based right here in northeast Mississippi. In fact, many are located within 50 miles of Tupelo," Coleman says. "We've always been the industry's major hub for the buying and selling of promotional and mid-range furniture. It's always been a very important part of our market. Now, I guess it is even more important to all players involved."
It seems that, 25 years later, V.M. Cleveland's timing is as good as it's ever been.
For more information, please visit www.tupelofurnituremarket.com
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