By Nancy Meyer
Lighting vendors said they have high hopes about this week’s Las Vegas Market, due in large part to the addition of the third showroom building and all the buzz surrounding it.
Rock legend Rod Stewart is headlining the grand-opening party on Monday night, and many designers and celebrities from Larry Laslo to Kathy Ireland, Dick Idol, Candice Olson and Donald Trump, among others, will be making appearances throughout the week.
“With Rod Stewart there, they’ll have great attendance,” Brad Smith, chief executive officer of Elk Lighting, told HFN. Elk is cross-promoting its Trump Home Lighting line with Lexington Home Brands, which is hosting the real estate mogul at its ribbon cutting and party on Tuesday night.
“We expect a ton of traffic and first-time attendees,” said Lee Schaak, chairman of Adesso, which will show releases from the April High Point Market that haven’t yet been seen by this audience. “We feel many retailers have been waiting for this third building to validate the market.”
Indeed, in addition to a larger presence of mainline furniture companies such as Lexington, AICO and others, this market will see more lighting companies exhibiting for the first time or expanding their spaces.
Bel Air Lighting/TransGlobe has moved from Building B to Building C with a big space to showcase its extensive lighting lineup, including new light-emitting diode outdoor lanterns and other innovations. Pacific Coast Lighting makes its debut in Building C with special appearances and events by its licensors Kathy Ireland (Monday, July 28, from 2 to 4 p.m.), Dick Idol (Tuesday, July 29, from 2 to 4 p.m.) and National Geographic Home Collection (wine tasting Wednesday, July 30, from 2 to 4 p.m.).
“We are anticipating a very good turnout, certainly in comparison with the other markets we’ve attended this year,” said Rick Spicer, vice president of sales and marketing for Pacific Coast Lighting. “Judging on the prior building openings that the Vegas Market conducted, they seem to have a good sense in what will bring the retailers and know how to throw a party. Las Vegas is a natural to entice attendance with an excellently laid-out shopping experience combined with the greatest convention city in the country.
“With all that said, we are preparing for a well-attended market,” Spicer said.
The Minka Group has moved from Building A to Building C, to showcase its Ambience, Metropolitan and George Kovacs Lighting products in a slightly larger space company officials said will be better merchandised.
“Realistically, we understand where the market is and we look at Las Vegas as a long-term investment, and we’re very excited about the new location right off the escalator,” said Tim Flannery, Minka vice president. “We look at Las Vegas as a destination point.”
Flannery continued, “I think that all that buzz is good and the Las Vegas Market Center is definitely making a commitment to create some excitement. As a vendor and tenant, I appreciate their efforts; they’re trying to drive attendance.”
Vendors’ expectations are also tempered somewhat because this market has been shown to draw significantly more from the Western states, which have suffered most because of the housing downturn, they said.
Smith, of Elk Lighting, said his company anticipates strong traffic and business from the contract trade, which is still quite buoyant, but weakness from the design trade. “On the negative side, this market is geared toward designers, mostly from the surrounding states, and these are the ones that have been hardest hit. I can imagine a lot of window shopping,” Smith said. “I don’t expect a writing show, but we don’t sell directly to designers anyway.”
Vendors said because Vegas is still so new, and because of Building C’s opening, it’s not easy to compare this market with the previous one, or with other markets.
“It will take some time to see how customers will shop the many market choices available,” Spicer said. “Because this upcoming Las Vegas Market includes the opening of a new building, it may or may not represent the typical crowd we can anticipate for summer shows. It will take a few cycles of all these markets for retailers to decide where and when they will attend. Therefore, it is premature for us to decide how we will approach this market regarding our product development cycle.”
Pacific Coast Lighting develops products throughout the year, and will have new releases this week, particularly from its new National Geographic Home license, and the addition of hardwire bathroom, flush and semi-flush fixtures. But it’s too early to tell if Vegas will command as significant a product launch as does High Point, Spicer added. “Our marketing and product development will respond to the wishes of our customers who will vote with their attendance.”
Vendors also said that with all the challenges they face on the supply side, they’re working harder to offer the same great products and prices to customers.
“We’re really forced to work much harder to bring value to the marketplace,” Minka’s Flannery said.
Added Pacific Coast Lighting’s Spicer: “Pricing has certainly been among the toughest challenges in this economy. We are doing our best to mitigate the cost increases to our customers,” Spicer said. “Bottom line is there are still retail sales being made every day and we intend to do all we can to make sure that our customers and their consumers choose PCL product.”