Bedding Conference by Finest Linens and Things

Bedding conference draws 200+

Shelly Davids -- Finest Linens and Things , 7/1/2007 6:15:00 PM

F/T plans second conference

HENDERSON, Nev. — The first all-industry Bedding Conference, sponsored by Furniture/Today, drew more than 200 retailers, producers and suppliers for its three-day run here March 29-31.
Keynote speaker Len Gaby, CEO of Phoenix-based retailer Sleep America, said it was the first such gathering he had seen in his 35 years in the industry.
“Bedding and Beyond: How to Get Your Share and More” was the theme of the sold-out conference at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas, a rapidly growing resort community just outside Las Vegas.

Five of the nation’s 10 largest bedding retailers were represented at the conference, including No. 1 Select Comfort. More than one-third of the attendees were retailers, representing bedding specialty stores, furniture stores, department stores, direct marketers and factory-direct operations.

Producers represented included the Top 10 bedding manufacturers, most of which were conference sponsors. Specialty sleep producers Tempur-Pedic, a presenter at the conference, Dormia, Natura and Comfor-Pedic also attended, as did futon leader Gold Bond.

Suppliers in attendance included the industry’s largest supplier, Leggett & Platt (a sponsor), as well as ticking vendors Culp, Tietex and Deslee, latex supplier Latex International, Hickory Springs, Delivery Solutions, and Wells Fargo Financial. Mattress protection specialists Protect-A-Bed and Protect-All were sponsors.

Attendees got an in-depth look at the female-friendly retail success story written by bedding veteran Gaby and his wife, Debbie. They told how their company grew from its modest start in 1997 to become what they said is Arizona’s largest sleep shop retailer, with 33 stores.
Several key issues facing the industry, including bedding warranties and the need to upgrade retail displays and retail sales training efforts, drew considerable comment.

A producers’ panel found significant support for the concept of shorter warranties. Barrie Brown, CEO of Mattress Giant in Addison, Texas, made a strong case for shorter warranties, comparing bedding’s long warranties to shorter ones offered on consumer electronics and cars.
Shorter bedding warranties would enable retailers to sell extended warranties, which are common in other industries, Brown said. “I challenge the industry to start thinking about it,” he said.

Attendees heard two presentations from retail display specialists. Martin Roberts, president of Grid2, outlined the key principles his company used to bring the Comfort Solutions market showroom in Las Vegas to life. Brand strategist Connie Post reviewed retail presentations she has done for Dormia, Restonic and others.Addressing sales training were consultant Ron Wolinski, a veteran retail sales trainer, and Tim Sommer, an executive with Dormia, who shared strategies for building stronger retail sales organizations.

Mary Frye, president of Home Furnishings International Assn., which co-sponsored the Bedding Conference with Furniture/Today, hosted a retail panel of HFIA members who shared their best bedding practices.Sealy sponsored a presentation of Furniture/ Today’s latest consumer bedding research.

The conference also spotlighted retail excellence. Six retailers were honored as Retail Giants of Bedding at a gala dinner (see story above). They were Select Comfort, Sleep Train, Sit ’n Sleep, Better Bedding, Ergo Customized Comfort and Long’s Bedding & Interiors.

Furniture/Today announced that, given the success of the inaugural conference, it will host another bedding conference next year. A date and location were not announced.

Ms Davids is a content writer for Finest Linens and Things