After producing the show for more than 30 years, 41 Madison announced that this April’s New York Tabletop Show will be its last. Going forward, the organization will no longer produce the twice-yearly trade show that draws buyers to its Flatiron building, home to showrooms for the industry’s premier tabletop brands—Christofle, Ginori 1735, Lenox and Waterford, among others.
“Due to changing trends and demand for in-person trade shows, 41 Madison will no longer produce the New York Tabletop Market,” the organization said in a statement. “We tremendously value all of our 41 Madison tenants, and will continue to provide them with the same services and support that they are accustomed to.”
This announcement leaves future shows in a somewhat nebulous state. 41 Madison set aside specific dates through 2025 that will serve as de facto markets, but won’t be promoting or organizing them, leaving the showrooms themselves to draw a crowd. Though many will lament the change, most have already adapted to doing business outside of the traditional market structure.
“While I knew 41 Madison was changing their production of Tabletop Markets and I was saddened for the team there, [this] market is more than just a building—it is about the brands, the partnerships, the retailers and the consumers, and that does not happen just two weeks a year,” says Lucas Updegraph, Lenox’s chief sales officer. “For years, we have been using our showroom both during and outside of the two market weeks. … We will continue to innovate, change and expand our brands from 41 Madison, our offices in Pennsylvania, as well as directly with consumers through our wonderful retail partners.”
The market’s history dates back to the early days of the building, which debuted as a B2B commerce destination in 1974. Though it’s not entirely clear when the show began, the first printed newsletter for the event was issued in 1988. Over the decades, the market became a reliable draw for buyers from large department stores and independent retailers alike. It was canceled during the early days of the pandemic, and though the market resumed as a full-scale in-person event last fall, attendance was reportedly light.
41 Madison’s decision to pull support reflects a turbulent period for trade shows in the era of COVID-19. “These are crazy times in the trade show business. So much turmoil between postponed, canceled, closed, bought and otherwise reconfigured events—it’s a bit chaotic,” says Warren Shoulberg, BOH’s retail columnist. “There’s no question in my mind shows and markets will remain important in the wholesale buying process, but the patterns and processes that we had pre-pandemic are not going to be the same again. Some companies are doubling down and others are exiting [the trade show model]. We won’t know who was right for several years, at least.”
Homepage photo: Waterford’s Lismore crystal collection | Kevin Lau