Solid Market Connections

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The Home Furnishings Association’s Retailer Resource Center (RRC) has long been known as the go-to source for furniture retailers to connect with the latest ideas and leading service providers. Now, it’s gaining another reputation: In addition to offering a space to learn from outside experts, the RRC is becoming the place to meet and network with fellow furniture retailers.

David Gunn of Knight Furniture in Sherman, Texas, has been dropping by the Retailer Resource Center for years to catch up with vendors and attend some of the HFA’s many free educational seminars. Only recently did he discover that the RRC can prove to be something of a sanctuary, a quiet place to escape, if only briefly, the hustle and bustle of market.

“I think a lot of retailers like seeing old friends there and talking shop so to speak,” says Gunn. “You get in there and you can put your guard down and relax a little more. It’s a great way to hear from others who have a business just like yours and maybe learn a thing or two from each other.”

Furniture retailers attending this month’s Las Vegas Market will show up at the RRC at Building B-1050. There are more than 40 vendors at the center to answer retailers’ questions and more than two dozen seminars scattered throughout the week. But increasingly that learning has become R2R (Retailer to Retailer).

Even Joey Gunn (David Gunn’s right-hand man in the family business, who also answers to “son”) has found the RRC to be a valuable place to pick the collective minds of other successful retailers. Joey is an active member of the HFA’s Next Generation NOW, a group of younger retailers who meet at Market to talk business, strategize and learn from one another. “I’ll see a lot of them at the RRC. It’s a great environment to check in, say hello and see what’s working for them and what’s not,” Joey Gunn says. “One of the great things about the furniture business is how everyone is so willing to help one another. All you have to do is ask, and a lot of that happens at the RRC.”

HFA members who can’t make it to Las Vegas can still find the same learning and networking environment in April at the High Point Market where the RRC is located on the first floor of Plaza Suites on Main Street.

Sharron Bradley, CEO of the Home Furnishings Association, said the RRC has always been available as a networking home for furniture retailers, but she’s not surprised it’s becoming better known for that. “Our members are smart,” says Bradley. “They know how to make the most out of any situation or event, and this is a perfect example of taking our resource center and shaping it into what suits their business.”

Make HFA’s Retailer Resource Center Work For You

1. Start with a plan

Begin by asking yourself a couple of simple questions: Whom do I need to connect with to be wildly successful? What other retailers or companies could be most beneficial to my future business?

2. Be selective

Target your efforts toward connections that will help your business grow. The RRC can help you save time because so many HFA members and other furniture retailers take advantage of its services. If you’re not sure whom you’d like to meet with, attend a few RRC seminars (Spring Market schedules are posted by mid-February, Fall Market by mid-August) to start meeting retailers just like you. But if you want to meet with a particular retailer, set an appointment weeks before Market (like now). Most HFA members are glad to meet and talk shop, if it works within their schedules.

3. Make it real

This is a chance to go beyond just gathering business cards, and to start making quality connections. Be genuine and honest, and your face-to-face communications will, over time, turn into meaningful relationships.