Showtime Solid, not Sizzling

Carole Sloan, June 19, 2006

High Point, N.C. — Despite general agreement that attendance was noticeably down, exhibitors at Showtime here earlier this month were mostly pleased with the response to their introductions.

Showtime is typically a sample-ordering event, rather than an order-writing show, and for most exhibitors sample requests were on a par or better than in past seasons. The key players in the jobber and furniture manufacturer channels were present, but the ranks of home textiles suppliers and fabric retailers were not up to usual levels, exhibitors related.

And the shift to June from the traditional July timing conflicted with school graduations and several bar mitzvahs, impacting both exhibitors and customers.

Jack Cobb, outgoing president of the International Textile Market Association (ITMA), organizer of Showtime and president of American Decorative Fabrics, said, “Traffic was definitely off; it can't be argued.” But he added, “The major jobbers and furniture people were here. For us it was fine, not a banner show.”

“It went very well for us,” said Jack Eger, vp, Craftex, who pointed to the firm's debut of the Antique Roadshow fabric collection “as having broader interest than we expected. Also we had a new showroom with more room to work.”

“We featured product designed for each of our distribution channels; it was the best of Wearbest,” explained Tom Notaro, vp. “We didn't emphasize just furniture fabrics.” For Wearbest, which has a major aisle position that attracts drop-ins, this Showtime did not produce the usual numbers, he said. “Drop-in traffic was off by a third, but we had appointments with everyone we needed to see among the jobbers and furniture manufacturers.”

Noting, “We saw fewer retailers this time, and it was obvious that traffic was down,” Richard Hanfling, president of Swavelle/Mill Creek, added, “The significant customers were in.”

At Valdese, “We were as busy as ever,” said Mike Shelton, president. “The mood was good, although business at retail is a little slow.” One change that has evolved in recent years, Shelton pointed out, “is that we see many major customers in all channels more often over the year.”

For Covington, now under new ownership and with an expanded product line, “We had a tremendous reaction,” said Roger Gilmartin, president. “We had strong reaction to the new flocks across all channels, as well as the expanded seersucker range and a cotton damask.” Because of these factors, Gilmartin said, “We were busier than usual.”

At Chris Stone, “I'm pretty happy with the results; I didn't expect a huge turnout,” reported Mark Aizawa, president. “I was happy with the caliber and type of customer who came.”

Although there was “not a lot of traffic overall, we were really busy with appointments,” said Neil Paladino, president of the Braemore division of P. Kaufmann. “While furniture was our busiest segment, we had lots of jobber, retailer and overseas appointments.”

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