The Club collection is part of a growing category trend towards comfort and multifunction in the wake of COVID-19 pushing consumers back into their own outdoor spaces.

Despite lower than normal buyer and exhibitor numbers, new outdoor resources popped up throughout High Point Market, and returning exhibitors made a strong showing this fall.

That strong showing was made in part because of the equally strong demand that retailers have experienced in an unprecedented post-COVID-19 rush that has left the outdoor industry scrambling to source product and fulfill customer demands.

“It has been nonstop for us,” said Tad Varga, president and owner of Three Birds Casual. “We’re grateful for it, but it has been a busy time, and we want to continue that. That’s why we came out to market.”

And that was the sentiment shared by buyers across the board; the smaller number of folks who were out at market were on a serious hunt for both in stock and in style products.

New in town

For buyers who ventured to High Point for the extended nine-day show, several new outdoor resources and several recently expanded resources were open for business.

Seemingly the largest new resource to join the casual side was Universal Furniture, making good on an early September collection announcement with the debut of more than 100 outdoor SKUs with magazine brand Coastal Living. Called Coastal Living Outdoor, the collection employs a range of materials — including all-weather wicker, teak, powder-coated aluminum, cast concrete, and flat and round woven rope — to create 10 distinct style groups.

With many pieces that look and feel like they belong indoors, such as the cast concrete Geneva cocktail table and several pieces of fully upholstered seating, the collection’s introduction was timely both for the category and the company.

“The addition of outdoor allows our brand to evolve into a true whole home provider for our customers,” said Universal Furniture Director of Marketing Neil MacKenzie, who also noted that the company has been working towards becoming a more diversified resource since adding indoor upholstery to its portfolio seven years ago.

And a few days into market, the introduction was being well met, according to MackKenzie, who reported that many customers were excited about the material mixes and the wide range of products being offered in the initial launch.

The MT Co. unveiled its own collection of indoor-inspired outdoor pieces.

“This collection is designed for the customer who wants their outdoor living area to be an extension of their indoor spaces,” said the company in a post introducing the collection on its Instagram. “It’s getting great reviews from customers so far.”

New sights and sits

In product, comfort was this market’s buzzword.

Tackling that theme directly was the Sacco from Kannoa, an oversized commercial-grade pillow like a beanbag chair for use outdoors. With two-toned fabric layers and thick filling, the Sacco is comfortable and fashionable, appealing to that more relaxed, livable vibe.

In the pursuit of that same comfort, Couture Jardin’s Club collection of sectional pieces offered a multitude of components and shapes for buyers to configure and reconfigure, making it suitable for hosting outdoor gatherings or transitioning a daytime lounge area into a nighttime kickback spot for a family.

Complete with intricate weaving on the backs and sides of the seating and ceramic-coated glass table tops, Courture Jardin’s Cuddle collection makes use of the same materials on smaller, rounded, half-moon-shaped standalone seating pieces to promote resting and relaxing.

Also targeting the relaxation trend:  cushionless comfort. Lloyd Flanders and Southern Home offered their respective Reflections padded lounge chair and West Indies closed back club chair and dining chair. Both feature full frame weaving and cushionless seating

Trading spaces

Outdoor resources were also on the move this market, opening new showrooms and preparing for big moves.

Summer Classics and its indoor sister brand Gabby showed off its new 20,000-plus-square-foot showroom.

Comprised of four buildings that have been joined over the years, the space has a large outdoor patio to display Summer Classics products outdoors, as well as a small courtyard visible from the front entrance.

“The new High Point Showroom is a spectacular space,” said William White, president of the company. “This showroom will allow us to fully represent all of the beautiful indoor and outdoor products we offer in a much larger — and more brand appropriate — environment.”

Telescope Casual also opened a new space during market, debuting a new showroom on the first floor of Showplace beside the elevator.

Elsewhere in the building, Varga was hosting regular market visit appointments and selling off Three Birds Casual’s floor models in prep for a move down the hall to a new spot on the second floor in front of the elevators.

“Being near the elevators seems to be important in this building,” commented Varga about the move.

Despite lower attendance numbers in general, Varga said traffic at the show this round was still good for his business. With a day left at market, he’d sold all but two floor models and had seen some serious customers, new and old, for traditional orders.

“People are coming out because they have to,” he commented. “They are busy it their stores, so they aren’t coming here just to look around. They need to buy product and get back to get that product out.”

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