by Robert Knisely

As I walked through the doors for the first time at the 2015 Las Vegas winter furniture market – my first time ever attending an event anything like this – I felt like a kid walking into a combined candy and toy store spanning over three million square feet. Better yet, it was like walking into the infamous Harrod’s department store in London for the first time. Talk about sensory overload! There were hundreds of thousands of different products, styles, textures, and colors, all seemingly inviting me to take a look and test drive this year’s latest trends in furniture.

As an individual with limited exposure to the design industry, it would have been very easy to become overwhelmed with no direction nor idea of where to begin. Fortunately I was a guest of Larrabee’s Furniture + Design. Scott and Carolyn Larrabee, along with their daughter Erin and head designer John Salisbury were incredible stewards who guided my extraordinary journey through market. Being able to roam the hallways, navigate showrooms and learn from knowledgeable hosts about the latest in the home furnishings industry was an experience I will never forget. Watching Scott and John strategically attack dozens of showrooms, studying, discussing, and purchasing inventory to stock in their store was an intoxicating experience. With so much to understand and making forecasts of what their customers would truly appreciate, my mind was settled knowing how much effort and care goes into the decision making process of what lines and products to carry – making life easier for their clients like me.

In addition to learning about the furniture selection and purchasing process, I learned about all the small details that often pose challenges for retailers and customers alike. For example, the dominating conversation buzzing throughout the market from almost every vendor and retailer in attendance was about the dock strike taking place in Los Angeles. Retailers were asking how much product a manufacturer had coming from overseas, and were making strategic buying decisions so that their customers wouldn’t be affected by what at the time was a several month delay in product arrival due to the strike.

It might seem obvious, but I really understood just how many roles it takes and steps required for a piece of furniture to arrive in my home. It starts with the order, heads to manufacturing, then shipping, then arrival and processing, and finally, delivery. Needless to say, I have a much deeper appreciation for how much goes in to creating the beautiful showroom Larrabee’s has. I will no longer become impatient when something I order doesn’t arrive immediately, or when there are unexpected delays. I can’t imagine how they do it every day.

After several twelve hour days I thought both my feet and my mind were on the verge of combustion. The experience, however, is one that I would never trade getting to take part in. It was an incredible process that gave me such a true understanding and appreciation of what our retailers are willing to do to meet the needs of their ever-changing customer base. Thanks to all of the staff and the ownership of Larrabee’s Furniture + Design for opening your doors to all of us and for allowing me to be a guest of yours at the 2015 Las Vegas winter furniture market; It was a truly unforgettable experience.