PLANE SEATS, SHUTTLES ADDED TO HANDLE FURNITURE MARKET
By Stephen Singer
Two solutions may have been found for the most vexing potential problem - transportation - facing the Tupelo Furniture Market that opens Thursday.
The end of American Airlines' commuter service to the Tupelo Municipal Airport on Jan. 30 threatened to snarl air transportation into and out of the city as 20,000 or more participants are expected to arrive for the four-day biannual trade show.
Northwest Airlines' Airlink, the one remaining commuter service, is adding 34-seat commuter planes to supplement the 19-seat planes the airline has used to fly passengers into and out of Tupelo, said Jamie Owens, a spokesman for Northwest Airlink.
In addition, organizers of the Furniture Market have increased the number of free shuttles between Memphis International Airport and Tupelo.
Three east- and west-bound flights are available in the morning, afternoon and evening daily for the 40-minute trip between Memphis and Tupelo, according to Northwest Airlines.
Owens did not say how many 34-seat aircraft will be used to ease a possible transportation crunch.
The Furniture Market will use 19 vans five times daily in midweek and four times daily the rest of the week to shuttle passengers between the Memphis airport and Tupelo, said Jala Caldwell, marketing director for the Furniture Market.
Although Caldwell said determining the number of participants is not possible, she said bookings for motel and other accommodations are up 25 percent from the last market in August.
The Hampton Inn on McCullough Boulevard, for example, does not have rooms available during the four days of the market, said Paul Price, a manager of the motel. The inn is building a 24-room addition, but a completion date has not yet been determined, he said.
More than 800 exhibitors are expected to attend the Furniture Market, Caldwell said. That would be an increase from the previous Furniture Markets of August and February 1995, when approximately 700 exhibitors displayed their wares.
About 20,000 participants attended last August's market, which was a 10 percent increase from the February trade exhibit.
In addition, the market will add 250,000 square feet of display space to the 1 million square feet previously available. The additional floor space has been made possible by the completion of Building IV, which was only 70 percent complete last August.
For the first time, 30 Mexican companies will display furniture. They will use the Mexican Pavilion, which will be located in Building IV, Caldwell said.
Caldwell said exhibitors from 23 countries, including Korea, Japan, Germany, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, participated last August. This week, several additional countries, such as the Netherlands and Korea, will be represented, she said.