While the cancellation of April’s High Point Market dealt a blow to furniture and bedding retailers across the country, members of Nationwide Marketing Group got to experience their own mini-Market by taking part in Nationwide’s first-ever Furniture Market Live online event.

Held April 28-30 during what would have been High Point Market, Furniture Market Live featured 45-minute online sessions from key vendor partners who presented product updates, training and specials exclusively for Nationwide members. In all, more than 1,600 people registered to attend one of the 12 sessions, and more than 70% attended at least two sessions.

“Furniture Market Live was a great success, both for our members and our participating vendor partners,” says Jeff Rose, Nationwide’s director of furniture and bedding. “Over the course of three days, we all had the opportunity to do what we love – see product, visualize ideas for customers and begin to strategize for the future. It was incredible to see our industry come together to support the lifeblood of America – the independent retailer.”

Participating vendors included Serta Simmons Bedding, Magnussen Home, Southern Motion, Wondersign, Flexsteel, Tempur Sealy International, Malouf, Corsicana Mattress Company, Leather Italia USA, Elements International and Coaster Fine Furniture. Rose says each welcomed the opportunity to talk directly to Nationwide members they would have otherwise missed due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Al Wisdom, Flexsteel residential sales representative, was thrilled with the response to his company’s Furniture Market Live session, which drew more than 100 attendees.

“Following our presentation, one of my newest dealers pulled the trigger and placed a $15,000 opening order of South Haven motion products – with more to come,” Wisdom says. “I feel strongly that our independent-exclusive partnership with Nationwide, coupled with our successful Furniture Market Live webinar, closed this deal.”

Several members also echoed Wisdom’s excitement about Furniture Market Live. Roberta Pitts with F.L. Davis Home Center in Heber Springs, Arkansas, was enthusiastic about the ability to see product and chat with vendors from the comfort of her home.

“This was great,” Pitts shares. “I didn’t have to travel or spend days waiting for the applicable classes to happen.”

In addition to the product demonstrations, Alithea Lass with Serenity Sleep Center LLC in Cottonwood, Arizona, was impressed by the exclusive specials that vendors offered attendees.

“Awesome products and awesome deals,” she says.

And Bob Langner from Feller’s Furniture in Denison, Iowa, was impressed with the entire event – which he hopes will be repeated in the future.

“Thank you, Nationwide,” Langner says. “I hope this happens more often!”

“The success of Furniture Market Live is a testament to the resiliency of our members and their ability to embrace new opportunities in the face of the severe disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” says Melissa Stenson, vice president of member experience for Nationwide Marketing Group. “And it demonstrates how quickly and effectively Nationwide is pivoting to service our members during these uncertain times. To that end, we are actively exploring how we can recreate this experience not only for future Furniture Markets but also additional categories, and even considering how it can be used as part of our PrimeTime strategy.”

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