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SWEET SUITE

You don’t have to be a big spender to spend a little time at Suite Charity. In fact, visiting the showroom at the Las Vegas Design Center could just save you money.

Suite Charity offers home furnishings and accessories at prices that are often below wholesale. And if that weren’t sweet enough incentive to visit, you can feel good knowing that your purchases will help area charities.

The showroom, currently located on the first floor of Building B at the design center within World Market Center, is filled with some of the latest designs in furnishings for the living room, dining room and bedroom, along with rugs, lighting and accessories. The pieces find their way to Suite Charity from many of the hundreds of showrooms that fill the two buildings at World Market Center.

According to Dennis Dunn, founder of Nevada AIDS Project and showroom manager, most of the furnishings within the showroom are donated, while a select few are purchased at cost or on consignment.

"The outpouring and generosity is amazing," added William Grenewald, general manager of the design center, which comprises the first two floors of the buildings at World Market Center.

He said manufacturers like the idea of being able to make quick visits to their Las Vegas showrooms and within days clean them out to make way for new product samples.

Dunn agreed, noting that he sees a tremendous influx of furnishings in the weeks before each market.

The immediate availability of furnishings and accessories is ideal for interior decorators and other visitors to the showroom, who can purchase items on the spot instead of having to order them and wait as long as 16 weeks for them to arrive.

"It’s an outlet to get rid of samples, give designers access to cash-and-carry product off the floor and raise money for a good cause," Grenewald said.

After operating costs, including salaries, all proceeds from sales are split between Nevada AIDS Project, Opportunity Village and Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas.

Suite Charity was born after last June’s first sample sale at the design center. Dunn, who operated a similar facility in a downtown art gallery to raise funds for Nevada AIDS Project, was attending the post-sale critique when he brought up the idea. He proposed that event organizers and the charities involved establish a permanent showroom to carry on the mission they started with the sale.

The sample sale was co-hosted by the California Central Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and the Las Vegas Design Center.

Before the sample sale, many of the showrooms within the facility were already donating pieces to Nevada AIDS project.

"The evening before, as I laid down to go to sleep, I thought if we had a showroom shared by the three charities, it would serve everyone’s needs," Dunn said.

All of the principals involved attended the meeting and agreed that the idea was a good one.

"Within weeks, we had a showroom," he said.

The one major proviso was that Dunn agreed that the showroom could be moved to another location — even on short notice — if the design center leased the space, Grenewald said. In return, they get to use the space virtually at no cost.

Grenewald, who joined the staff at World Market Center after the first sample sale, said it is not uncommon for design centers to host regular charity days, or to have a clearance center somewhere within the facility. And sometimes, those clearance centers benefit a charity. However, this is the first time he has seen a year-round clearance area devoted to helping area charities that actually looks like a designer showroom.

"This is one of the best I’ve seen," he said. "Anyone who shops here regularly always checks in to see what’s new."

The showroom’s look is the result of the talent and devotion of Jerry Hall.

Hall, who used to manage an art gallery, skillfully arranges the furnishings and accessories into vignettes, giving shoppers ideas how to coordinate the pieces. Additionally, he creates excitement in the showroom by taking once-hidden pieces from the back and putting them out front to shine.

"He rearranges things almost every day and is constantly rotating the merchandise. He makes it look new and fresh," Dunn said.

Grenewald said he is pleased with the success of Suite Charity, which continues to attract people to the design center.

"It helps the showrooms, the designers and the charities. I don’t anticipate it going away," he said.

Although the design center is open only to trade professionals (except during the sample sales), Dunn said there is a designer on staff who can meet interested parties at the door and take them to Suite Charity to shop.

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