Larry Thomas

  1. Despite the pandemic, restaurant seating still in demand; outdoor dining gives beleaguered industry some hope

    Despite the pandemic, restaurant seating still in demand; outdoor dining gives beleaguered industry some hope

    Despite the easing of pandemic-related restrictions in many areas of the country, it’s no secret that the restaurant industry is still struggling. While the industry has rebounded nicely from the near apocalypse in the spring of 2020, many segments of the business are still yearning for more customers and employees.

    The National Restaurant Association, in fact, says restaurant sales and total industry employment remain below pre-pandemic levels.

    Data from the trade association shows that sales at eating and drinking establishments were virtually flat in August and September, after showing decent increases the previous five months. Restaurant employment, on the other hand, was below September 2019 levels in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

    But in spite of all that sour news, the savviest restaurant operators a

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  2. No longer a luxury, performance fabrics becoming mainstream due to durability, ease of stain removal

    No longer a luxury, performance fabrics becoming mainstream due to durability, ease of stain removal

    Not all that long ago, performance fabrics were seen as luxury upgrades in the upholstery fabric world – reserved for upper-end furniture primarily in commercial settings.

     

    But once manufacturers realized their stain-resistant and fade-resistant qualities resonated with consumers in all walks of life, performance fabrics charged into the residential upholstery market and began gobbling up market share. Pandemic-induced supply chain issues have slowed the growth spurt a bit during the past 18 months, but there’s little doubt that performance fabrics will keep getting larger slices of the upholstery fabric market in the foreseeable future.

     

    During a panel discussion at the recent High Point Market, fabric guru Caroline Hipple, who is president of custom upholstery producer Norwalk Furniture, predicted that performance fabrics will have 90%

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  3. Positives outweigh negatives as furniture industry heads to High Point

    Positives outweigh negatives as furniture industry heads to High Point

    Despite a stubborn rise in Covid-19 cases, the positive signs certainly outweigh the negative ones as we head into the critical October High Point Market – one of the few furniture industry trade shows taking its normal spot on the calendar the past two years.

    For one thing, there’s a surprising amount of new product on tap. Given the massive supply chain woes that have made it difficult for some manufacturers to keep in-line goods in stock, we thought October product launches would be few and far between. But that doesn’t appear to be the case – especially for exhibitors with bedroom, dining room and occasional furniture.

    There’s no question that many have cut back on the number of new products, but exhibitors believe new products remain a key showroom attraction, so they’re n

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  4. This under-the-radar furniture segment is finally showing signs of life

    This under-the-radar furniture segment is finally showing signs of life

    Anyone who’s even marginally connected with the residential furniture business is well aware of the historic consumer demand and unprecedented supply chain challenges the industry has been experiencing for months. It’s more than a full time trying to stay on top of the latest developments.

    But there’s one fairly obscure segment of the furniture business that is just now showing signs of a recovery – the senior housing market. And that presents an opportunity for companies who can build products that meet the rigorous contract furniture specifications the segment requires.

    According to Seniors Housing Business, a respected trade publication covering the category, occupancy rates at independent living and assisted living facilities have plummeted since March 2020 as seniors hunkered down in their existing residences and senior housing properties struggled to find

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  5. Zuo launches upgraded website featuring real-time inventory status, robust search capabilities, enhanced navigational tools

    Zuo launches upgraded website featuring real-time inventory status, robust search capabilities, enhanced navigational tools

    OAKLAND, Calif. – Zuo Modern, a leading resource for indoor and outdoor furniture for the home and office, has upgraded its website, zuomod.com with the addition of a host of user-friendly features that make it easier for dealers and designers to track orders and search the company’s vast inventory.

    New features include real-time inventory status, which allows users to see which products are in stock, in production or in transit. Plus, the mobile-friendly site has a shopping cart where users can save products for future orders and get quotes for FedEx small parcel shipments for a variety of ground, overnight and two-day delivery options.

    “These new features reinforce our commitment to always put customers first and provide the best service possible,” said Luis Ruesga, CEO. “Our dealers and desig

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  6. Furniture resources turn to Mexico as Asian supply chain woes mount

    Furniture resources turn to Mexico as Asian supply chain woes mount

    Since there seems to be no end in sight for the home furnishings industry’s supply chain woes – especially for those who rely on Asian factories – many U.S.-based furniture resources are looking to Mexico to help relieve the bottleneck.The big advantage, of course, is that goods from Mexican furniture factories don’t have to be shipped in obscenely expensive and hard-to-find ocean freight containe...
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  7. Travel rebound is fantastic news for ailing hospitality business

    Travel rebound is fantastic news for ailing hospitality business

    On July 1, a news item that may not have appeared on your radar screen (or shown up in your Google news feed) was the most positive sign for the hospitality business we’ve seen in many months.On that day, the Transportation Security Administration screened 2,147,090 passengers at U.S. airports. That’s a significant number because, for the first time, it exceeded the number of passengers screened o...
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  8. Gaming chairs are not just for Xbox and PlayStation fanatics

    Gaming chairs are not just for Xbox and PlayStation fanatics

    The pandemic-induced home office boom continues to drive sales of desks, chairs, lamps, filing cabinets, and just about anything else needed to outfit the workspace, and as companies large and small re-think the wisdom of requiring employees work in corporate offices, demand for home office furniture probably won’t return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.One unlikely beneficiary of this s...
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  9. Designers take note: Survey says room packages still a winner with consumers

    Designers take note: Survey says room packages still a winner with consumers

    We were intrigued by a recent survey conducted by Furniture Today that showed a sizeable number of consumers – especially Millennials -- prefer to buy home furnishings in room packages. Given the consumer’s well-known preference for eclectic pieces instead of suites and seating groups in recent years, this finding might seem surprising. But this item-by-item approach can work just as wel
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  10. Today’s dining room is more than a place to eat a sandwich

    Today’s dining room is more than a place to eat a sandwich

    In December 2019 – roughly three months before the pandemic redefined nearly everything that was considered normal – New York interior designer Christine Gachot had this to say about the dining room.

    “Rather than creating showpiece formal dining rooms, the dining room of the next decade will be a hub of energy for the home: work station, buffet, homework table, bar, and beyond,” she told MyDomaine, a website that follows lifestyle developments and design trends. “Space is valuable, and it should work for the life you actually live!"

    Little did she realize just how spot-on her prediction would be.

    The pandemic, as we know all too well, has forced many adults to work from home and turned millions of homes into remote classrooms. And much of this new activity takes place – you guessed it – in the dining room.

    We can’t help but wonder how many families actually eat a

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