Baltimore show reports boost in sales

About 50 exhibitors attended the fourth annual Baltimore Fine Furnishings show, doubling last year’s turnout.

“The show was better than last year in every possible way, other than we didn’t have an increase in attendees. But a higher percentage of attendees this year bought or ordered things at the show, so sales were way up,” says show director Karla Little.

The show, which features handcrafted furniture and accessories, was held May 4-6 at the Home Arts Building at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Baltimore. Previously, it was held at the Baltimore Convention Center. Little extended marketing efforts prior to the show, but says she did not expect a great increase in attendee turnout because of the move. The show featured a pavilion of student work, live demos from artisans on the show floor, and door prizes.

This was the second Fine Furnishings show for William Doub, of William Doub Custom Furniture in Deerfield, N.H., who exhibited last October at the Providence show. All four furniture makers from his cooperative shop brought three to six pieces of handmade furniture to display a range of styles. The goal of attending the show was all about getting the company name out.

“Our marketing is centered on our individual websites, so we gave out a lot of cards and had many significant discussions with potential buyers during both shows. We will travel anywhere in the U.S., Canada and even Europe to deliver and install work, so sometimes an interested client will contact us in the future. This is the outcome that we are hoping for in participating in these shows,” says Doub.

Doub also capitalized on networking opportunities. “In Baltimore, I met the current upholsterer for the White House and the chief cabinetmaker for the White House during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. We also enjoy meeting up with new and old faces from our alma mater, the furniture program of the North Bennett Street School in Boston. We all find satisfaction in representing the school and providing ourselves as examples that the program is a success,” he adds.

Natural Woodworking Co., of Floyd, Va., won the show’s Marc Harrison Award for marketing excellence. “We have a lot of architectural elements in our booth,” says owner Swede McBroom. “A timber frame surrounds the booth and it has paneling and doors on the back wall and we produce, like many others, quite unique designs.

“As for show sales, we made just a few, but our prospects were very good. I’ve already been in contact with one of the designers that was there about some chairs and that will be quite lucrative. I imagine I’ll be getting more work from them. I also talked to a long-term customer who came to the show because it was closer than my workshop.”

Best of Show award recipients included:

• Tim Eastman of Eastman Woodworking (Baltimore) for traditional furniture.

• William Doub Custom Furniture for 20th century furniture.

• Chris Robertson of C.W. Robertson (Parkton, Md.) for traditional body of work.

• Pompanoosuc Mills (East Thetford, Vt.) for contemporary body of work.

• Todd Leback of Vaneri Studio (Charlottesville, Va.) for new product debut.

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue.