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Meet Mercato Place: Simplifying Material and Sample Sourcing for Designers
Meet Mercato Place: Simplifying Material and Sample Sourcing for Designers
WantedDesign is pleased to partner with Mercato Place as the sponsor of the ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan Talks program. Mercato Place is a new online sampling platform to help designers specify products and learn more about manufacturers, with the ultimate goal of making their lives a little bit easier.
WantedDesign co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat spoke with Ray Sayers, president of Mercato Place and parent company Thoroughbred Fulfillment, to learn more about Mercato Place’s plans for WantedDesign Manhattan and beyond.
Mercato Place shares WantedDesign’s vision of being a meeting place for designers to find their next suppliers. Interior designers, architects and specifiers are invited to visit the Mercato Place kiosk in the ICFF+ WantedDesign Manhattan 2022 Talks area, at the Javits Center, May 15-17.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your background? And how did everything start with Mercato Place? But let’s go back with a bit of your background,
Ray Sayers [Mercato Place]
My name is Ray Sayers. I am the president at Mercato Place and Thoroughbred Fulfillment. And Mercato Place is a new online sampling platform to help designers specify products and learn more about manufacturers and make their lives a little bit easier.
Thank you for having me on. It’s great to see you guys. We’ve been looking forward to this for a little while. So I appreciate the time. So my background, the parent company is Thoroughbred Fulfillment and Thoroughbred has been around for 25 years and so I’ve owned it for 18.
We’ve been doing sample fulfillment and sample production for the majority of the contract office contract textiles and residential furniture markets for quite some time. We’ve always been very behind the scenes, the ones that are kind of off the radar that no one knows about. And about a year ago, we were first approached by a handful of our contract textiles clients, asking us to come up with an alternative option to what’s already out there in the way of an online sampling marketplace to go direct to designers. So we went down this path last spring and came up with the site. So it came up with the brand partners and went live in January.
Mercato Place is a more exclusive higher end curated sampling experience for designers.
What would you say makes Mercato Place unique?
Well, we like to think that it’s very special, all the way across the board. But I think part of it is trying to make it a “win-win-win” for everybody involved, you know, I think we want to make it a win for the designers. So they have access to this library of textiles and wallcovering. We want to make it a win for Mercato Place. So we’re able to grow this business. But we also want to make it a win for the brand partners that are participating on the site, because ultimately, it’s their product that we’re featuring. There has to be a real genuine value that we bring, and it has to be an opportunity to feature them and their brands, not just us. So that’s part of it. And also, I think by really focusing on what we do well and focusing on more of a curated higher end experience, while really emphasizing the sustainability aspect. There’s some unique characteristics of what we’re doing.
So let’s talk a bit about sustainability. And what are the efforts you are making towards sustainable practices?
Sure. The good news from our standpoint is that we’ve been doing this with Thoroughbred for years, it’s just been who we are. So whether it’s people talking about returns programs, and having designers send back samples we’ve been doing returns for 18 years, across the board for all of our clients.
Also how we operate internally, whether it’s a paperless warehouse, which is really important, how we go about our packaging, how we recycle and repurpose and do things with samples that come back to us with packaging. It’s a philosophy that we just live by. The returns are a big part of it.
What can we expect from Mercato Place in the future? How do you see the platform evolving?
We want to see really nice sustained growth. That’s one of the reasons why we’re looking to partner with WantedDesign and ICFF to get more exposure and grow Mercato Place within the design community. We want to stay true to our mission of being more curated. We use that word (maybe overused) but we want the user to have a more exclusive experience, both for the brand partners and for the designers. As we grow, we’ll be looking to get into another product category every six to nine months. So not all at once. Right now, the focus is on textiles and wallcovering. By the end of the year, it could be something like hard surface tile or carpet. Even then we’re going to try to limit it to that top 10 to 12 brands and keep it a little bit more of an exclusive club. There’s also some cool partnership we’ll be announcing soon as well, that I think will be a bit more exciting than just new product categories.
For your understanding of the design industry and where it’s heading and the type of challenges that we currently face whether it’s sustainability or supply chain, what are the challenges that Mercato Place addresses?
There are two things that come to mind when you talk about challenges as far as design, and one I think we can really address is the whole idea of remote work. With everybody leaving the office and just how designer’s lives have changed how they work, and how they collaborate and how they get samples and how they do returns. All those things require somebody like us who is able to get samples into these designers hands in their homes, in the quickest possible way. I think at home work has been a significant driver as to why we exist today on the side of our business. One thing that we really don’t have a handle on, is the supply chain issues. And that’s truly shaking up designers. Products that they specify and manufacturers they want to use for their project might have a lead time of 36 weeks or 48 weeks. It dictates how they’re going to go about putting together the selection for those jobs. That’s something that I’d love to have the ability to solve that one has been cut off plates, but I don’t think we have that one up our sleeve at this point.
Do you ship only to North America?
We ship globally at Thoroughbred, we will ship globally out of Mercato Place as well.
Let’s talk a bit more about your participation at WantedDesign Manhattan and ICFF. What would you like people to discover when they come visit you at the show?
First of all, we’re thrilled to be part of WantedDesign Manhattan and ICFF. It feels like a good synergy, your audience is our audience. And when I look at the people that are going to be attending the show and exhibiting at the show, we want all of them as partners on Mercato Place. We love the higher end, curated exclusive experience that WantedDesign provides.
We want to be there and be very active in meeting with designers and letting them know about us. You know, we’re a baby at this point right now. And I get impatient, I think we should be so much further along than we are. But we’ve only been live since the middle of January. So it’s been four months. We’ve been really impressed with the response so far.
Being part of the show is really our first opportunity to get out in front a large group of designers that we want to be involved with. We think it’s a great partnership and a great fit. Hopefully you guys do too!
We absolutely do too. And for us, as you may know, WantedDesign has always been more than just a product showcase. It’s a place for people to find new ideas, source products but also meet new partners. We are very happy to have Mercato Place involved and part of this discussion especially this year as we have a focus on materials. You’ll be in great company.