As January approaches, nearly 50 outdoor manufacturers are gearing up for the first Atlanta market since IMC purchased the Casual Market.
Although the casual show won’t officially happen until July 2023, part of the reason IMC bought the market was to bring new buyers to outdoor companies throughout the year.
To get more information on how IMC views the outdoor category, what will be different — and the same — at the new market, and how it plans to refresh the show, Casual News Now reached out to Scott Eckman, IMC executive vice president, chief revenue officer
A few years ago, there was talk in the casual industry that IMC was aiming to make Las Vegas Market “the” outdoor market. While that didn’t happen, Eckman says it was important for IMC to win the bid for Casual Market because the company is in the business of connecting buyers and sellers.
“At AmericasMart in Atlanta, we can offer ICFA the space and the accessibility that it needs,” he says. The casual offerings include nearly 50 purpose-built showrooms on four contiguous floors (AmericasMart Building 1, Floors 2-5) with an updated trade show hall just above in Building 1, Floor 7. Also on the floors are a new lounge for ICFA members and a food service area. The design of the new Casual/Outdoor Furnishings collection at AmericasMart will make it easy for buyers to find the temporary exhibits and participating showrooms.
In addition to the showroom resources, the draw of Atlanta is its accessibility, he says. Atlanta is within a two-hour flight of most of the U.S. and within the drive market of a significant buyer base for the casual furniture industry.
“Once buyers arrive in Atlanta, they can easily travel to AmericasMart via MARTA rapid transit from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world,” he says. “Some 12,000 hotel rooms are within walking distance of AmericasMart as well as dining options and attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, The College Football Hall of Fame, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and more.”
One main advantage of the move, according to Ekman, is that casual furniture will be shown at two dedicated ICFA events and offered with four IMC markets each year: Casual Market Atlanta (July, co-located with Atlanta Market), Outdoor Design Days (September, co-located with Fall Market), Atlanta Market (January and July), Spring Market (March) and Fall Market (September).
For Casual Market Atlanta’s first staging, the show will be held in July, “both meeting the needs of product manufacturing cycles and allowing it to overlap with Atlanta Market and create new synergies for buyers and sellers,” he says.
“As Atlanta Market attracts retailers and designers from every U.S. state and more than 60 countries, the addition of Casual Furniture resources is expected to draw both current category buyers and prospective buyers who are sourcing gift and home,” he says.
For buyers, access to Atlanta Market’s 8,000 brands is an opportunity to efficiently explore new revenue opportunities. Additionally, adding a winter buying opportunity to Casual Market Atlanta’s summer staging supports the residential design community that is placing orders for immediate spring deliveries.
On the brand side, participation in Atlanta Market will provide exposure to thousands of potential new buyers — both retailers and interior designers.
“Designers are increasingly adding outdoor rooms to their whole home designs while home décor retailers are selling the full spectrum of outdoor from furnishings to accessories like containers, outdoor rugs and pillows, fire pits and heating systems,” he continues. “Adding the category to the AmericasMart offerings amplifies the existing synergies between the twice-yearly Atlanta Market and the market center’s daily designer traffic.”
He also explains that designer business is a defining factor of IMC’s plans for casual in Atlanta. Designers sourcing casual furnishings will be offered educational opportunities and events, designer concierge services, a resource library, guided tours and complimentary valet parking.
Additionally, the new Outdoor Design Days launching in September 2023 will offer more sourcing and education. It overlaps with AmericasMart’s Fall Market to provide an additional cross-category buying opportunity later in the year.
Casual Market Atlanta will also feature ICFA’s signature special events and programming like industry networking and social events as well as the annual ICFA gala and awards program.
As the market has been in the same place for 30 years, Ekman says IMC is assuring retailers and manufacturers that the market will continue to thrive.
IMC is supporting Casual Market Atlanta through a comprehensive dedicated marketing campaign, including a new Casual Market Atlanta logo, designed by IMC’s creative team. With the relocation to Atlanta, the show also has a new web address: CasualMarketAtlanta.com. Additionally, content and information on the category is on the AtlantaMarket.com and AmericasMart.com websites.
“We are set to fully support the category as it relocates to Atlanta,” he says. “Attendees will see Casual/Outdoor in advertising, email communications, PR, seminars and events and more, as well as integrated into 1:1 communication with buyers. Promotion of the category began in July 2022 during Atlanta Market with onsite signage in Building 1 creating awareness and building anticipation for the 2023 launch.”
Casual Market Atlanta will run July 10-13 and feature nearly 50 showrooms in Building 1, Floors 2-5 with 90+ temporary exhibits in Building 1, Floor 7. Casual showrooms will remain open for the duration of Atlanta Market, which runs July 11-17.