Like good old times at New England show

goodoldtimesThe 18th annual New England Region Fine Furnishings show, held Nov. 1-3 at the Pawtucket Armory Arts Center in Pawtucket, R.I., experienced a 30 percent increase in exhibitors for a sold-out show.

The show featured a wide variety of custom furniture and other handcrafted items in many styles, materials and price points from 57 exhibitors.

“The show was sold out about three months before it happened, which hasn’t happened in a really long time,” show director Karla Little says. “I had about a dozen exhibitors who were anxious to get booth space if someone else cancelled or didn’t show up. I had a wonderful selection of people who came to the show to see if it would be a good fit for them to be an exhibitor and I have a whole pile of applications on my desk for next year already.”

Bill Houston of Huston & Co. in Kennebunkport, Maine, sold several pieces at this year’s show and is working with a client on a custom bed. He exhibited for the first 12 years of the show and took a break, but came back this year to focus more on residential customers and because he liked the size and style of the newer venue.

“We had a couple of small sales and we are still pursuing a few other leads for larger orders. Usually six months after the show is usually the time frame to see the total impact of the show,” says Houston.

“I thought this show was well-attended. Similar to our previous experience with the Fine Furnishings show, I had a sense that the people that attended were knowledgeable and they know what they’re looking at, that they’ve come because they know the level of quality that will be there and the value that goes along with the cost of good quality. That’s different than some shows where the people are shocked by the price.”

Jeff Lind of Jeff Lind Fine Woodworking in South Berwick, Maine, was back for the 17th time as an exhibitor.

“I thought it was a bold move of Karla to move to the new venue in Pawtucket, but everyone I’ve talked to really appreciates the size and accessibility. For an exhibitor it’s an easy in, easy out. I’ll definitely go back,” says Lind.

Lind says the show’s attendance has improved, but it was too early to say if it was a buying crowd.

“It’s always hard to visualize because it’s not a real cash-and-carry kind of thing. These are big pieces usually. I did see some small pieces coming out, but usually from a show like this you get orders and calls later on. Once people see that you have got that grit to stick with what you’re doing they tend to come back to you,” he adds. 

For exhibitor information about next year’s shows, visit www.finefurnishingsshow.com.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue.

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