I love Chicago and all it has to offer! Great food! Fabulous shopping! Beautiful architecture! Professional Theatre! Storied history! And, I have a personal connection to the Windy City through family members.
I especially love Chicago in September. Always a step closer to autumn in temperature than we are in Columbia, I look forward to walking the city streets and feeling the energy of the city’s vibrancy.
Each September, I have the good forutne to attend the International Casual Furniture Market held at the Chicago Merchandise Mart.
Built by Marshall Field and later owned by the Kennedy family for 50 years, the Merchandise Mart was valued at $917 million in early 2007. 20,000 visitors and tenants visit daily and the Sultan of Brunei once declared that it was the only place in the world where he could find everything he needed to furnish his palace, and did so in one week, spending $1.6 million to do so.
An impressive building, architecturally attired in Art Deco details, it was the largest building in the world when it was constructed in 1930. In fact, until 2008 it had its own zip code.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of walking to be done in this monumental building! And walk, we did! There’s always an energy and positive outlook flowing through the corridors and showrooms of the Merchandise Mart during the casual show.
Outdoor lifestyle manufacturers show the world their peacock feathers with new designs for the 2013 season. There’s excitement to see who has introduced the best new product, the most interesting product, and the product that we retailers think our customers will purchase as never before.
Like the customer, we want to be wowed. Like the business people we are, we want to see something that will make the registers cha ching. Most importantly, we all want to see something that will help promote and expand the desire of homeowners everywhere to create the outdoor living area of their dreams.
Here are a few more images from market. Perhaps you will see them at your local outdoor living shop in the near future (I know you’ll see a lot of new things at Casual Living next season and we can’t wait to show you).
The Casual Furniture Market demonstrated, once again, that outdoor living is big and only getting bigger. In fact, in my neighborhood alone, 4 of the past 5 home renovation projects have included an outdoor fireplace.
That means one thing—home owners are planning on sitting outside in the evenings instead of inside their homes. That’s a huge lifestyle change. (Although we had outdoor seating (redwood) and dining furniture (picnic table) at our home when I was growing up, it was most often used on weekends, and typically when we had guests over for a barbeque. My parents never dreamed of sitting outside in the evenings.) To paraphrase a popular advertising line, “We’ve come an Outdoorliciously! long way, baby” and, really, that’s a very good thing.