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213: A Furniture, Bedding and Outdoor Update with Jeff Rose

Written by Rob Stott

April 23, 2024

It was a truly action packed PrimeTime for the NMG Furniture, Bedding & Outdoor team. At the end of it all, we caught up with Jeff Rose, VP of the division, to talk about the new vendor introductions, the first-ever tour offered to Members of the World Market Center campus and other trends impacting the furniture, bedding and outdoor industries.


 

Rob Stott: All right, we are back on the Independent Thinking Podcast. Mr. Rose, I think the last time we did one in-person at PrimeTime, I don’t know if I was part of Nation … I might have been, it might have been my first PrimeTime.

Jeff Rose: It was your first one, yes it was.

Rob Stott: So, no floating beds still?

Jeff Rose: No floating beds. I knew you were going to say that.

Rob Stott: I know you did.

Jeff Rose: I knew you were going to say that.

Rob Stott: It is what it is. But I appreciate you taking the time and still sitting down with me, despite all that.

Jeff Rose: Oh, yeah. It’s been a great ride with you and it’s been great watching you grow with the vendors, the membership.

Rob Stott: Hey.

Jeff Rose: You’re doing a great job, man.

Rob Stott: You as well, man. You look over at that F&B space on the show floor, and it is not only rocking and growing, but the breadth of brands in that space, the variety in what you see over there, it’s so cool.

Jeff Rose: Yeah. It’s been a fun journey.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: My team’s awesome, Chad and David, and Harley. The whole merch team, man, we all rally around together.

Rob Stott: Absolutely.

Jeff Rose: Just trying to provide that value for the membership.

Rob Stott: Heck, yeah. Well, let’s start here in this town, in this city of Las Vegas. The investment property we were talking about between January, now, next July, August. Have you made a down payment? How’s that coming along?

Jeff Rose: Well, hey. I don’t even know-

Rob Stott: All the stops.

Jeff Rose: I honestly don’t know-

Rob Stott: Do you know what day it is?

Jeff Rose: What day it is. We had Furniture Market out here, and then got to go home for maybe a day.

Rob Stott: Back to Vegas.

Jeff Rose: It’s been a wild ride, but it’s what we do.

Rob Stott: I know.

Jeff Rose: It’s what we do.

Rob Stott: You know what it is, it’s not the investment property. Nationwide needs a YouTube style residency.

Jeff Rose: Yes.

Rob Stott: Out here.

Jeff Rose: Yes. I love it. I think it’d be great. I’d be all-in on that.

Rob Stott: That goes to this town, too. A big part of what we’re doing here, between having space for a PrimeTime, and then knowing that there’s a World Market Center not too far from here that we can go visit. Which we did go visit.

Jeff Rose: We did.

Rob Stott: We did.

Jeff Rose: We did.

Rob Stott: For those that aren’t here, that are listening that missed out on this opportunity, talk about that experience, going over to World Market Center.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: Not during Las Vegas Market.

Jeff Rose: No. I would probably say about four months ago, I got to knock on Melissa’s and Tom’s door and said, “Hey, I’m thinking about maybe taking about 300 members off property during PrimeTime and I want to bring them down to Las Vegas Furniture Market.” They looked at me like I had three heads. Then once I started telling them what we were really trying to do, they were all on board and we went to work. Our events team, they had a Zoom call with us, trying to get our vision. Then we called IMC and they loved the vision.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: Then we were off.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: Now we fast-forward to where Sunday was and we had our Nationwide Learning Academy first ever offsite event for the furniture and bedding division.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: We piled hundreds of members into a bus and we headed down to Las Vegas Furniture Market.

Rob Stott: I know for me, the first time I landed at that market center, and you walk through the little opening into that big, open area, it’s impressive. The buildings feel like they lean in on you. What was great about that event is that so many of the members there had never been there, so I feel like that experience was happening to so many of them.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: Talk about the ability for them to be there and experience not just the buildings leaning in on them, but the showrooms themselves and the opportunity to see the vendors in that intimate setting.

Jeff Rose: Yeah. When we were looking at the numbers and everything, it’s about roughly 65% of our membership have never been to a furniture market before.

Rob Stott: Wow. I didn’t realize it was that high.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: It’s crazy.

Jeff Rose: It’s crazy. They’re busy though.

Rob Stott: Right, it makes sense.

Jeff Rose: They’re running stores and just being leaders in the community.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: It’s hard to get out here.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: Markets are important. It’s where you learn trends.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: Look at new opportunities and things of that nature on the vendor side of things. We went to 13 vendors that are in the Nationwide portfolio and we said, “Hey, this is what we want to do,” and they were wanting to open up their doors, and let the membership go and see what a full scale market is like.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: When they got off the bus and walked through that, and saw the buildings leaning in them, talking about special. It was like Christmas almost for them.

Rob Stott: It’s wild. I’ll be honest, I’ve been there what, three, four times? Three times now, counting this week, and it still has that feeling as you’re walking into it. Different this time because it wasn’t during a market.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: It was even cooler, I think, to walk into it and have it be almost desolate, like a desert.

Jeff Rose: It was.

Rob Stott: It’s empty and surreal that you’re in this … It felt like you weren’t supposed to be there, but we were obviously. To walk into that and just see, it felt bigger almost.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: The fact that there were no people in there, it was just for us, a really cool experience.

Jeff Rose: It was a very intimate-

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: Just a cool experience. The vendors loved it, the members loved it. We might do it next show, I don’t know yet.

Rob Stott: I think you have to.

Jeff Rose: I know. We’re getting asked a lot.

Rob Stott: Well, that’s a good thing.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: My next question, you touched on it there a little bit, but the feedback in the days since, what are you hearing? Obviously they loved it. Any specific feedback?

Jeff Rose: Yeah. It was unique on how we did it.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: We got all the membership, they had to register, and then we broke them into … They got to pick a track that they wanted. Track one, track two, or track three. When they got there, everybody went on their way. We broke everything up into four 30-minute sessions that was inside your track. Then afterwards, they all came to Streamline Art, it was a great vendor of ours, and we had a great art walk, basically.

Rob Stott: Truly impressive. That gallery was something, man.

Jeff Rose: It was so special.

Rob Stott: Your eyes get drawn … Curated, I know. They got into detail about how it was curated and meant to do certain things to your vision as you’re walking through. But truly experiencing it, everywhere you’d turn, your eyes are just pulled in by something else.

Jeff Rose: Oh, yeah.

Rob Stott: What a cool gallery.

Jeff Rose: Yeah. It was really great to see. Throughout the day, I’m getting texts from the vendors, “This is so awesome that y’all were able to do this and navigate this.” All of our field team was getting feedback from the members that went and just said, “All right, when do I sign up now? Is there somewhere I can sign up right now to make sure I make the list for August?”

Rob Stott: That’s awesome.

Jeff Rose: It really did go over well and it was a great way to start PrimeTime.

Rob Stott: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jeff Rose: It was such a great way.

Rob Stott: I have to imagine, for the members that hadn’t been to see showrooms merchandised in a way by the vendor that simulates a retail floor, they get to see it in their vision, in the vendor’s vision of how that vendor would merchandise a furniture store essentially, or a mattress store. The ability to look at that and experience that, if they never had, it has to be enlightening and educating in that sense to them as well, in addition to just the product that they’re learning about.

Jeff Rose: Yeah. It was definitely beneficial for these retailers who have never been to just see how a manufacturer can do it in their own home, basically.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: This is the manufacturer’s space at a market. It’s something that they take pride in.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: When they come here to PrimeTime, they’re in 1000 square feet, or 800 square feet, and they do a phenomenal job of merchandising here. But at the market, they’re in 10,000, 20,000 square feet, 30,000 square feet. There’s just a little bit more that they can do.

Rob Stott: A little bit. Too, even from market to market, re-merchandising and seeing how they change it up.

Jeff Rose: Oh, yeah.

Rob Stott: Trying to change the experience from show to show, so there’s a lot to be learned, to learn from those experiences walking through there. Cool opportunity.

Jeff Rose: You know what, I’ve seen you grow over the years, and listening to you talk, I’m just like, “Listen to Rob.”

Rob Stott: “Oh, look at him go. Look at Rob go.”

Jeff Rose: You’re spot on. It’s really a great, a neat thing.

Rob Stott: Oh, absolutely. Well, turning attention to F&B Market today. FB&O Market, let me say.

Jeff Rose: FBNO PrimeTime, buddy.

Rob Stott: I have to get used to saying that.

Jeff Rose: I know, I know.

Rob Stott: What are conditions like today, how are things going? Where’s your attention for ’24 in furniture, bedding and outdoor?

Jeff Rose: Yeah. Just on the industry outlook side of things, people would think I’m crazy if I didn’t say it’d be challenging.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: ’24, it’s going to be a little challenging. January did not start off great.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: We’re definitely bouncing back in February and a decent President’s Day. But we’ve got some challenges that are going to go out through the year. You’ve got Joe Biden and Trump, they’re going to be going at it for the next eight months. We’ve got some macroeconomics things that we’re looking at, inflation and things of that nature.

I do think we have some tailwinds coming as well. We got some pent-up demand, some product and units that we pulled forward from COVID. There’s units out there that still, I think, will come back.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: It might be in Q4 and into 2025. I think that retailers, they need to make sure they’re in the market.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: They’re the brand and continue to be leaders in the community.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: There’s consumers still being out there. We’re going to have over 18 million units bought in bedding this year.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: There’s consumers out there.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: What are you doing, what are you looking at your business to go get that business?

Rob Stott: Right. To that point, that’s a nice segue into my follow-up in asking where should that attention be? What should they be focusing on? Obviously, no blanket cookie cutter statement, store to store things are a little bit different.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: But areas of the business, is it marketing? What can they do to drive that incremental business in the meantime to hang on?

Jeff Rose: Yeah. I think you got to look at every aspect of your business.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: From when the consumer walks in, how are the RSAs being trained? Are they making that consumer shopping experience the best, first-in-class that those consumers need and want?

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: I think that’s definitely … You got to close the sale, or make the average ticket rise. What are you doing there?

I think there’s a lot of great manufacturers out there that are doing a lot to help get product that they may sell out for the consumers to help drive them into the store. I think you need to look at manufacturers that are helping with that aspect.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: Then obviously, how are you advertising your space? I know we say all the time, website, website, website.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: And marketing, marketing, marketing. But are you truly diving in and doing your due diligence on who are your best partners out there that are doing it right?

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: In light of that, it’s going to be a challenging definitely next couple quarters.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: You need to look in the mirror and really reassess what you’re doing, and go get it.

Rob Stott: Well, if anything, they can look around the PrimeTime show floor, like we talked about at the top, the innovation in what it looks like on the F&B side of the floor and again, the variety. Take that opportunity … If you’re not here, you’re missing out on a chance to get up close with a bunch of different brands that you may not think about.

Jeff Rose: Yeah.

Rob Stott: To see them in-person, get up close with the product and think about some ways to shift your business a little bit.

Jeff Rose: Oh, yeah. Especially the furniture business.

Rob Stott: Yeah, there’s so much.

Jeff Rose: The furniture industry, it’s such an antiquated industry.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: We’ve got over 1500 manufacturers out there.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: We’ve very diligent on who we bring into our fold and we want to make sure it’s the right vendor partner.

Rob Stott: Right.

Jeff Rose: We’ve got over 50 manufacturers here on the show floor for PrimeTime. We’ve got nine new vendors. We brought in a great premium leather partner called Hydeline. They’ve had a dynamite show.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: We’ve got some new outdoor vendors here. It’s been a great show.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Jeff Rose: But the manufacturers really came here, displaying product well and they’re having fun over there.

Rob Stott: They’re doing their thing.

Jeff Rose: They’re having fun.

Rob Stott: Now that I think about it, there’s been some demos that have been had that, they might not be floating, be zero gravity. It’s as close as you’re going to get at this point, right? We’re kind of there.

Jeff Rose: We’re never going to live that down, are we?

Rob Stott: I don’t think so. I don’t think we can. It was my questions. It’s my fault.

Jeff Rose: We won’t blame the moderator on this.

Rob Stott: We got zero gravity in some of the couches that are out there, and mattresses as well. Those adjustable bases, they got zero gravity.

Jeff Rose: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Rob Stott: It’s a fun time, man.

Jeff Rose: It is.

Rob Stott: Hey, we appreciate you stepping away. I know your schedule’s all over the place, so to spend a few minutes with us and chat about industry, and show, and what’s going on, and again, that market tour, it was awesome. Appreciate it and look forward to doing it again in August.

Jeff Rose: Rob, you’re crushing it, man.

Rob Stott: I try.

Jeff Rose: I appreciate just the time and letting me speak. It’s been a fun show, but we’re getting to the end of it.

Rob Stott: I know.

Jeff Rose: It’s, whew, wore out.

Rob Stott: Go sit, the massage chairs aren’t too far from here. Go take a seat, man.

Jeff Rose: Okay, buddy.

Rob Stott: I appreciate you.

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