CATEGORY: EDT Editorials

AUTHOR: JOER

Thousands of cars and trucks representing, it is hoped, millions of dollars in orders, covered the parking lots and roadsides at Tupelo's complex of furniture market buildings early Thursday morning.

The fall session of the twice-yearly furniture market exemplifies, perhaps more forcefully than any other single event, Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi's prominence and importance in the national manufacturing economy.

The furniture market in Tupelo is the second-largest in the nation. Only High Point, N.C., the historic capstone city of the American furniture industry, attracts more buyers and sellers to its showrooms.

Tupelo's market success becomes more impressive, even phenomenal, when measured on a timeline. It started 10 years ago with barely a nod from some parts of the furniture industry and little visibility outside the region. The trucks, vans, cars in the parking lots this week look like a corporate logo map of the United States. If it's furniture (or people who buy furniture for the retail market) it's likely to be found somewhere in Tupelo before the close of the hectic, intensive weekend.

Market executive V.M. Cleveland, in an an interview with the Daily Journal, praised Tupelo's small-town qualities and cited them as a factor in the market's success. The market is the single largest event twice every year; nothing else comes close to drawing an equal number of people. The community, to its credit, responds affirmatively and with a positive attitude.

Scores of people rent their houses and apartments to buyers. It is not unusual to be asked, "Are you with the furniture market?" followed by, "Welcome to Tupelo."

Tupelo's attitude and that of the Northeast Mississippi furniture-making counties reflect the kind of business-positive position that makes the industry and the market successful.

Success related to furniture isn't an accident. It is planned, cultivated and encouraged at every level in the region and in Lee County/Tupelo. The success of the past decade includes attention to the details that make the crowds, the logistics of moving people, the task of finding accommodation, and the need for business-related entertainment possible and pleasurable.

It's arguable that the impressions of Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi exported from the furniture market equal in importance the sales volume generated by all the buyers. If the impressions - and experiences - had not been good for the past 10 years the market would not have become the second largest event of its kind in the nation.

However, as important as the national ranking is,, the more important measure and standard remains with the market itself: How good can it become?

It already exceeds virtually every expectation of 10 years ago, and the success continues to come from the motivation generated in Northeast Mississippi.

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