"Yes! I Am Going To NEOCON Stop Asking!" - 09/17/21 Edition
Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

Are you going to NeoCon?  Are your clients going NeoCon?  When I say NeoCon today, I guess I really mean are you going to Chicago October 4th thru the 6th.  I work for one of the “majors” and our showroom is no longer in the Mart.  My company has followed what seems to be a trend towards the Fulton Market and West Loop area, where a lot of the industry is moving.  Technically speaking, we are not part of NeoCon at the Mart, but we are open that week to customers, A&D and the general public.  A delicate balance between being part of Neocon and part of “furniture week in Chicago”. You know what I mean.
I keep asking my clients -  A&D firms, dealers and end users -  if they are going to NeoCon. And here is what I have seen so far: there’s enthusiasm, and a lot of people are going from my city, Dallas. It’s worth noting that national design firms that have an office here in Texas, in Houston or Dallas, will probably be sending designers (or some designers may choose to go on their own).  Yet the same firm’s counterparts in the their NYC office may not be going at all.   Makes me think attendance decisions are regional and they are Covid related.
Is it true you need to shell out 25 bucks to visit a show at the Mart that is on life support?  Come visit any of us at Fulton Market for FREE!  I have friends who are independent rep’s and represent manufacturers that still have a showroom in the Mart and they are surprised and annoyed that this added expense has been tacked on - even though the manufacturers they work for are paying rent to the Mart for the express purpose of bringing people into the building.  Charging designers,  small businesses, and dealers $25 to “register” for the event when many of these people and companies are just getting back to work, or even at the show just looking for work, doesn’t seem right. I see you rolling your eyes because $25 may not seem like much to a big shot like you, but in today’s economy, to some people it is.  And yes, some trade shows have a fee, but not when the tenant is paying rent all year long.   Who is the pennywise and pound foolish marketing executive that thought this was the time to start to charge people to attend?  Oh, maybe it’s the math. If 30,000 people pay $25 each, that’s $750,000 extra to the Mart.
Viscusi, you have a large social media following and you have recruited many of the leaders in our industry and loads and loads of the field sales rep’s.  What do you hear?  Are people going?  Are you going? What is the pulse of the industry? I just got stuck (vaccinated) because it is required by the Mart and my company to be able to attend the show.  And, yes of course I will go over to the Mart to see what the guys that are still there are doing.  But my questions is, is anyone going?

NeoCon Jab!

Dear Jabbed,

Yes of course I am going:  I wish people would stop asking me!

I would not miss it for the world and I hope everyone goes.  I think NeoCon, transcends the Mart show alone and yes I get it, It is not NeoCon per se, but lot’s of people will be in the West Loop at Fulton Market. 
Do not write off the Merchandise Mart and it’s tenants so fast.  Smaller manufacturers appreciate the synergy that they get from being next to one another.  It is better for them and their customers.  I have heard about the demise the Mart for years but I do not believe it is happening.  We did not need a change of venue we just needed some fresh faces and ideas.  It’s seems The Mart has done more housecleaning the even MillerKnoll so the future looks bright to me.

Many of the companies that have moved to the Fulton Market area are there in part because they have retail elements to their marketing and sales and they need retail type of locations and facilities.  Just the fact that your company is flying you in for another show proves that NeoCon is not dead.  It’s just taken on a new form.

If going to NeoCon made you get vaccinated, I am glad you are going for that reason alone.  You are not the first person from our industry to tell me that was why they got the jab.  My eyes are rolling at that, not you complaining about the 25 dollars to attend the show!  I agree with you, the Mart execs unintentionally made the 25 bucks the most talked about feature of this year’s show. It is the middle of the pandemic, our industry is recovering  and we just want people to attend, and suddenly we have to pay to go into the building many people are choosing to move out of. And I do not think the $25 is a deterrent, it’s like you said, it’s the insult to injury concept.  I blame the tenants for not voicing their protests to their landlord, in addition to whoever’s idea it was. An unnecessary fiasco.
OK, so I am going, manufacturers are going, and I bet a lot more people will go than you think.  Follow me on social media, Twitter@StephenViscusi to see what showrooms I will be appearing in to give out free “career advice”, autograph books and critique your resume.  Be safe and enjoy the show!