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from Patio and Hearth Products Report

Energized by Optimism: The Scene at Casual Market

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The 2013 International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, held Sept. 17-20 in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, may just be the evidence everyone is looking for that good times are on the horizon.

Everywhere the mood was upbeat and above all, a majority of manufacturers reported writing orders. It’s not about traffic, they repeated over and over. It’s all about writing orders and they said they were doing just that.CM_Photo_303ProductsGoldEagle

303 Products/Gold Eagle
A highlight at 303 Products/Gold Eagle was its 303® Fabric/Vinyl Cleaner™, a premium cleaner (pictured, right) specially formulated to clean all indoor and outdoor fabrics, carpeting and upholstery while rinsing residue free. It’s designed to accomplish even the toughest, heaviest-duty cleaning jobs safely, using no harsh chemicals. 303 Fabric/Vinyl Cleaner safely removes difficult stains, including dirt, oil, grease, coffee, tea, ink and pet stains.

“The biggest news at this show for us is also firepits,” says Doug Peppler with Agio. The trend is so strong that Peppler acknowledges that they’ve strategically placed firepits along the walking path of their exhibit so that everyone can see what’s in the offering. It’s all about extending the season and having the products in stock to do it.”

In addition, Agio continues to be the trendsetting leader in outdoor styles in all-weather wicker (pictured, above left). The Granada Deep Seating Collection features table and seating combination hand crafted of a heartily textured weave of durable, fade-resistant all weather wicker. With deep seating weather-resistant cushions in a warm, natural hue and coordinating floral print, the look says comfort with plenty of room for years of entertaining for your customers.

Alfresco HomeCM_Photo_AlfrescoHome
Alfresco Home featured the Roma Collection in Antique Topaz at market and it was tremendously well received. Alfresco Home is a designer and manufacturer of outdoor living casual, garden and gourmet products (pictured, right) and also showcased seven new cast aluminum collections and five new  Everwoven™ All Weather Wicker sectional and deep seating collections. And, for the first time the Fornetto Dual Purpose Wood Fired Ovens were highlighted in the showroom with exceptional response.

CM_Photo_BigGreenEggBig Green Egg
The Big Green Egg unveiled two custom cooking islands and new line of artisan hardwood tables.

The cooking islands are designed for XLarge and Large EGGS and feature high-quality aluminum and steel construction with solid stainless door pulls, heavy duty roller shelves and drawers, storage cabinets for charcoal and utensils and a durable, weather resistant powder coated finish (pictured, left).

Artisans use exotic woods grown in sustainable forests to handcraft the high quality hardwood tables. Choose from a distinctive imported solid teak or warm mahogany model. Each table offers ample convenient working and serving area for the Large or XLarge EGGS.

Brown Jordan Outdoor KitchensCM_Photo_BrownJordan
Brown Jordan hopes to cook up sales in its new all stainless steel outdoor kitchen. European frameless design full overlay cabinets (pictured, right) are fabricated with commercial grade 20-gauge stainless steel and are available in 24” and 27” depths. A quick look inside revels the craftsman ship as the interior is void of oany hardware and screw heads. Cabinets features include concealed stainless door hinges, solid core doors, trash pullouts, fixed and sliding shelves, “soft close, self-close” drawers and leveling legs.

CM_Photo_CalOutdoorConceptsCalifornia Outdoor Concepts
This upcoming season, California Outdoor Concepts has its firepit tables (pictured, left) with two new materials, copper and mosaic tile. The new Copper Top, designed for use on any of the California Outdoor Concepts firepit table line, provides a durable, weatherproof option that is also corrosion resistant for years of lasting enjoyment.

The Capistrano Mosaic Firepit Table Top recreates the images of California Missions. Warm tones of travertine and marble, harken back to the early California images of tiled rooftops and weathered plaster walls.

Couristan debuted two new collections of outdoor rugs designed by Emma Gardner of Emma Gardner Designs. They fall under the Emma at Home® name and include Infusion, a collection of loop constructed rugs, and Intermix, rugs with a structured weave.CM_Photo_Couristan

Infusion includes 13 rugs with mouth-watering colors and an eclectic mix of designs. “They are unified by a colors that are saturated and bright but not garish,” says Gardner. “They are easy to work with and fresh. With these rugs, we can tell buyers, ‘Yes, you can afford it and yes, you can use it outdoors.’”

Intermix, comprised of five SKUs, features lots of texture and color combinations. “Intermix has a very low price point and it is so amazing what Couristan has done with texture and color,” Gardner adds.

“The big thing for us this year is fire,” says Ebel’s Mark Bottenmiller. With that announcement, Bottenmiller pointed to their new line of firepits—two round and one square—with a wood grain aluminum top and choice of an aluminum slat base or woven base. “They all go with everything in the line.”

Also new are wing back accent chairs, which have been added to the Bellevue collection. The chairs are being cross-merchandised throughout the collection since they make great accent chairs. Host chairs, swivel clubs and club chairs are all available.

An all-new collection is Provence, a traditional deep seating and dining collection, which has a distinctive weave. It is available in two colors, Pecan and Driftwood.

“I foresee another very good year,” says Bottenmiller. Attendance has been good and there are lots of new dealers and growth from existing dealers.”

Paradise Cushions by FiberBuiltCM_Photo_FiberbuiltUmbrellas
Paradise Cushions by FiberBuilt got a good response to its new 13-foot umbrella, so large that four chaise chairs can fit under it. “The size of this umbrella alone generated a lot of excitement because it is so big,” says Debbie Maytidu with Paradise Cushions by FiberBuilt.

Also hot was its Rolled Up Channel Chaise Cushion. “We specifically had customers asking for a product like this because it rolls up and fits so many different kinds of furniture,” she says.

“We’ve had significant growth these last two years and anticipate more new products being introduced like these,” Maytidu adds. “We want to be a one-stop shop for cushions, umbrellas and accessories.”

Galtech had the show covered with its new 9-foot auto tilt umbrella with steel cable and a new contemporary chrome finish and cast metal housing. “We came out with this because we found people were putting our commercial silver umbrellas into residential settings. There’s a lot of contemporary furnishings being sold and this chrome finish has more of a contemporary appeal than a bronze or black finish,” Galtech’s Jeff Leisen says.

Also new is a new square cantilever umbrella that comes in a 10-foot or 11-foot model. Galtech redesigned the base from a tripod shape to a circular shape, which is fillable with gravel or sand. It now has wheels for full mobility. The umbrella itself has a full left and right tilt function and Galtech’s Easy Lift system that opens and extends the umbrella in one effortless, fluid motion.

“We’re projecting a 5% to 10% growth in 2014,” says Leisen.

Gensun CasualCM_Photo_GensunCasual
Making a huge hit at the show was Gensun Casual’s massive outdoor kitchen display. “It’s modular and fits any configuration the customer wants,” says Lynn Hanson with Gensun Casual, of the products that do not require any building. “You can shop in the morning and entertain in the evening.”

Going into 2014, outdoor kitchens will continue to be the focus, says Hanson, referring to their kitchen display. “This has been hot topic at the show. It is what everyone is talking about.”

Homecrest, long a leader in comfort furniture, is adding motion to its product line with a few select pieces that have a “nice, gentle, flex.” “We want retailers to buy what they are selling,” says Todd Wingrove of Homecrest. “Our new approach is to flow things quickly to our customer. There’s no need jam in early buys only to have it sit in a warehouse.”

Kingsley-Bate showcased its Southampton collection, an updated version of classic open-weave wicker furniture that is both elegant and timeless. The CM_Photo_KingsleyBatecollection includes a dining armchair, side chair, sofa, settee, ottoman, lounge chair, chaise, rocker and occasional tables.  Southampton is stocked in Oyster, and available by special order in Driftwood, Mocha or Natural.

Leisure Design
Leisure Design showcased its all-new Charleston dining and lounge chairs. Boasting a traditional styling, it is CM_Photo_LeisureDesignavailable in two colors—Natural Cane and Driftwood. Notably, the collection features an oversized side table and chat table. “We’re hoping to capture the contemporary and traditional looks with this collection,” says Robert Burrows with Leisure Design. “It bridges the gap between city and country.”

Roberts is looking for Leisure Design to do a lot in 2014 with a variety of looks and different takes on color.

Mallin Casual
New for 2014 is Mallin Casual’s Celaya Collection. This clean contemporary design features a patent-pending unique attached cushion and a beefy oversized frame for casualCM_Photo_MallinCasualFurniture comfort with a luxurious feel. This collection is available in Cushion seating as well as Cushion Dining and Sling dining to accommodate any backyard décor. “Mallin pioneered the kind of creative comfort that is so desired in today’s lifestyle,” says Mallin’s Jay Weber. “Our continuing innovations lead us to make the most comfortable and fashionable line of outdoor furniture in the industry.”

As for the industry outlook, Weber says, “Everyone is positive. For us, the fact that we launched nine new collections makes a strong statement.”

Meadow Decor
Drawing raves is Meadow Décor’s Verona Collection with seating and dining pieces. Owner Lily Chen says this collection was designed CM_Photo_MeadowDecorwith the new generation of shoppers in mind. “We designed this for them,” she says of frame that features simple, clean, contemporary lines.

The dining table, in particular, attracted many onlookers who were amazed that it could extend from 84-inches to 108-inches by pulling the two halves apart on a special gliding mechanism and then inserting a leaf.

The collection is made of extruded aluminum, which Chen says is the next big thing. “We find that the market is looking for more extruded materials versus cast. But more important, customers are looking for value, good quality, design and price.”

Napoleon AppliancesCM_Photo_NapoleonAppliance
Napoleon’s latest entry is a Patioflame® Table with all aluminum construction. There are two configurations to choose from and it has a powerful 60,000 BTU burner, electronic ignition and thermo-coupled valve that shuts the gas supply off if the flame is extinguished. The propane tank is easily concealed inside the table base and it comes complete with table, burner, burner cover and topaz glass. “It can easily be integrated with black or brown furniture,” says Napoleon’s Kim Norris says of the versatile go-with-everything finish.

NorthCape International
Avant, NorthCape’s new high back collection made a big splash at this year’s Casual Show. The Avant Collection is offered in sectional, seating and dining configurations with optional alternative tabletops including Durawood, and features a unique high back design in a richly-toned CM_Photo_NorthCape15mm Aspen weave. The comfortable, welted headrest-style cushions are available in your choice of fabric, and cushions feature premium fill for extended bounce-back and virtually indestructible Tenara thread.

“High-back sections are big and so are steel curved collections,” says Kim Golson of NorthCape International. “Anything we stock is a hit. Instant gratification is what our customers want.”

O.W. Lee
New at O.W. Lee, is its Aero firepit, constructed of machine and hand bent plate aluminum for an industrial, yet elegant look. ButCM_Photo_O.W.Lee there’s more, says Leisa McCollister at O.W. Lee. “This table fits a fits a regulation size propane tank. Its functionality is what is getting everyone really excited.”

As for 2014, McCollister says indications are that the outlook is bright. “No one is talking about the economy being bad. Everyone seems to be very excited about the new introductions.”

Oriental Weavers
What can be done with just two colors? Oriental Weavers showed everyone with its Riviera line of outdoor rugs. They are simple, CM_Photo_OrientalWeaversyet elegant designs and show just how great two simple color combos can look, although a few rugs in the line feature more more colors. “We’ve taken our top-selling, trend forward colors from the indoor/outdoor industry and put them into these designs,” explains Pat Muschamp with Oriental Weavers.

Lagos is another collection with an entirely different vibe. It features eight-color rugs with a loop base and a frieze cut pile, which gives the rugs a textured look with a unique high/low effect. The vibrant colors are all replicated in the raised pile. “That really makes the colors stand out for a fashion forward look,” adds Muschamp.

The Outdoor GreatRoom CompanyCM_Photo_OutdoorGreatRoomCompany
At Casual Market, visitors were checking out The Outdoor GreatRoom Company’s new Montego firepit table. Billed as a “contemporary twist on casual,” the firepit comes in a a choice of a black or balsam wicker base. It has a Stonefire composite top, stainless steel burner, optional glass guide and can store a 20 lb. propane tank in its base.

Outdoor Lifestyle
New at Outdoor Lifestyle is the Claremont lounging pieces that coordinate with the Claremont dining collection, which was CM_Photo_OutdoorLifestyleintroduced last year but never made it into the catalog yet still accounted for a remarkable 10% of sales. “The dealers who brought it in, turned it over well, so we wanted to add lounging pieces to the collection,” says Virginia Hamilton of Outdoor Lifestyle.

Also new is the Spectrum, dining and seating collection. It uses the same frame as the Claremont, but offers a more contemporary design.

The Richmond Collection, featuring both seating and dining pieces, is another new addition to the product line. “It has a timeless design and comes in at a good price point,” says Hamilton

CM_Photo_PatioRenaissancePatio Renaissance
Patio Renaissance’s premiere collection is the Monticello. The collection has a new braided weave and was featured at the show in a Barley finish, though it also comes in Latte. The deep seating collection is traditional with a sofa, lounge, motion pieces and a sectional as well as dining pieces.

“We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of excitement at this show. I don’t know if it is the buzz of our new showroom, which just opened, or because the economy has picked up,” admits Andrea Dibello of Patio Renaissance.

Peak SeasonCM_Photo_PeakSeason
Garnering lots of attention at Peak Season was its new Panama collection, available in a teak finish with a mahogany top on both chat and end tables. “It’s a more relaxed presentation of our Somerby collection,” says Tim LeRoy of Peak Season.

The collection, which includes dining, seating and four different tabletops, balances out the line, according to LeRoy. More important, “depending on how you accessorize it, it can have a completely different look and feel.”

Ratana Home and Floral
The Park Lane collection took center stage at the show. This sleek, uniquely shaped, slanted high back masterpiece, gives a striking contemporary flair with an upscale appeal. Featured with rustproof extruded aluminum frame and brushed scratch resistance finish in sophisticated taupe color, and coupled with CM_Photo_RatanaHomeandFloraldeep plush cushions and extra back frame support, Park Lane offers extraordinary comfort that set the ultimate relaxing tone for friends and families. Park Lane is available in the living room, dining room, and sectional pieces in both straight and wedge corner to cater your desired outdoor lifestyles.

“We were so excited to showcase our products in the brand new showroom, accented with all these beautiful lightboxes, creating the welcoming environment for our customers to experience our outdoor line. Our customers love our 2014 collections, we’ve received tremendous positive feedback from them,” says Godfrey Leung of Ratana Home and Floral.

Solair by Trivantage
One of Solair’s introductions was not for consumers but for its customers. They introduced a new display option for dealers looking to transform their in-store awning sales experience for customers. Showcasing the retractable awnings in a new light, the Retail Awning Display (RAD) was developed as solution to better help retailers look like they are in the awning sales business.
“While traditionally awnings have been installed on store walls, there has been a concern that the products can get lost in the décor of the store. This can make it difficult for consumers to identify the awnings as a product that is actually for sale,” says Solair’s Rett Haigler.

Also new is the PS1000 retractable awning. With a 10-foot width and 8-foot projection, the PS1000 offers homeowners with smaller outdoor living spaces the opportunity to effectively shade beyond the average patio umbrella. “The PS1000 is a convenient shade option for enhancing the outdoor room that offers streamlined standard features at an enticing price point,” Haigler says.

South Sea Rattan
Brand new is the Arcadia deep seating collection, where it is all about scale. “It is grand enough to stand out on its own, but it is not overpowering,” says Joyce Kuo of South Sea CM_Photo_SouthSeaRattanRattan.

A lot of attention was paid to the wicker and the finish. “We spent a lot of time giving it the right balance of color and depth to go with its function,” Kuo explains. The finish is Driftwood, a rustic weathered look, which Kuo says is trending. “We’re seeing a real move toward gray and rustic weather looks.”

The last few years have been tough, Kuo admits, “but so far, everyone has been really optimistic.”

Sunbrella by Glen RavenCM_Photo_SunbrellaByGlennraven
The 2014-2015 collection of Sunbrella upholstery fabrics offers 30 exciting new fabrics, including bold new colors and patterns and sumptuous textures.

Also new this year is Sunbrella Rain, a 100% waterproof version of the legendary Sunbrella upholstery fabric, available in a large selection of your favorite Sunbrella fabrics.

Sunset West
“This is beautiful! This is furniture!” states West Stewart of Sunset West, when referring to the company’s new Cambria collection. “It has a classic indoor silhouette that’s been around for a century. There’s not a lot of bulk or heft, yet it is large in scale and tall in terms of back cushions.”
The collection includes everything from deep seating to dining and bar stills. “Every new account we’ve written at the show has included this collection,” Stewart says.

He’s happy and there’s no reason not to be. “Business has grown substantially over the last year years at a comfortable pace, but what is neat is that our existing customers are growing our line on their floor space. That says the line is working for them.”

Telescope Casual Furniture
Constructed of its very popular Marine Grade Polymer, the St. Catherine MGP Cushion Collection combines the comfort Telescope Casual Furniture is known for with its durable worry-free MGP. The curved wide MGP arms allow for added comfortCM_Photo_TelescopeCasual and complement the gentle curves of the legs. The durability allows the use of this product either under cover or out in the open without concern. The collection uses stainless hardware that is hidden whenever possible. This sort of attention to detail is what sets this product apart from the competition. This collection coordinates with Telescope’s St. Catherine MGP Sling Collection.

The Hammock Source
If you want to relax in what The HammockSource touts as the “most comfortable hammock produced in 130 years,” you’ll want CM_Photo_HammockSourceto lie back in their Tufted hammock, which is part of the Hatteras line. It is overstuffed and tufted, just like a high-end sofa, which makes it so comfy. It is eco-friendly, too. The batting is made of recycled Sprite bottles. It has a suggested retail price of $379.

Also making news are curtains. “If you’re looking to enhance your outdoor experience, you can get all the Sunbrella fabrics and a resort feel, from these outdoor curtains,” says Reid Roney of The HammockSource. The curtains are part of the Hatteras and the Pawley’s Island line. Other new items in the Pawley’s Island line include outdoor rugs and outdoor pillows.

“We’re writing a lot of orders and we’re excited about 2014 based on what we’ve seen during this show,” Roney says.

CM_Photo_TreasureGardenTreasure Garden/Shademaker
Rugs! It is what Treasure Garden featured prominently at Casual Market. There are 10 styles in two different sizes designed to coordinate with the company’s umbrellas. “It’s a complete outdoor environment,” says Treasure Garden’s Jeff Dorough of the exclusive rug styles made in Belgium. “The rugs are design to sell the umbrellas and the umbrellas are designed to sell the rugs.”

Visitors to the show also got a sneak peak at Treasure Garden’s new outdoor flooring system, which will launch in 2014. It’s a do-it-yourself product that clicks together. Buyers can choose from wood composite with built-in solar lights, real stone or sod flooring panels. The product can be installed on any hard surface.

“Best of all, if you live in a condo or townhome, you can take your outdoor deck with you if you move,” adds Dorough.

From casual chat lounges, to outdoor alfresco dining, to socializing around the pool, EVO Deep Seating pieces address each need. TheCM_Photo_Tropitone EVO collection is quite elegant with subtly tapered legs and arch across the back of each piece. EVO Deep Seating pieces are offered in Kaffe, Shadow and the newly introduced Vineyard weave in Latte. Also pictured here is the 48” Square Banchetto Fire Pit. Tropitone offers an expansive line of firepits, fire tables and tabletop cooking and entertaining products.

TUUCI has three aluma-Teak finishes called Natural, Java, and Weathered Teak. The fresh styles complement several new gorgeous looks for the company’s umbrellas.

“We’re giving people options, and we know people love how wood looks but like the durability of aluminum. Now we have even more ways to customize the product. Buyers can choose their canopy, finish and their base,” says TUUCI’s Amy Hudwalker.

Windward Design Group
Lay back and relax in Windward Design Group’s new Adirondack, Adirondack sling and reclining Adirondack chairs. They are part of its Marine Grade Polymer line, which has been CM_Photo_WindwardDesignGroupwildly popular, so much so that customer requests for an Adirondack prompted the addition of these designs to the line. “The reclining Adirondack has been a home run,” says Marc Morales of Winward. “It is the only reclining Adirondack in the industry that I know of.

“For us, it is a complement to our Marine Grade Polymer line and it combines the look and feel of a traditional Adirondack with the comfort of a sling. Plus, the recliner doubles as a chaise, so you get dual usage,” he says.

An urban-sized sectional is a personal highlight of the new introductions if you ask Bill Herren of Woodard for his opinion. The new sectional is part of the Jaz Collection, which is constructed of iron and has its own dedicated firepit. The sectional has a unique cornerCM_Photo_Woodard treatment and comes with its own corner table for added functionality. “It’s one of my favorite groups and one of the few contemporary iron groups out there.”

As for the coming year, “2014 won’t be 2008,” says Herren. “Everything is looking up. I know because we’ve written a few nice orders.”

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