Sources show wraps at Pier 94

Michele SanFilippo, May 24, 2004

The second annual Sources show for overseas manufacturers and exporters trying to break into the U.S. market and/or expand their business here officially ended last week at Pier 94, Passenger Ship Terminal.

Held from May 15 to 18, the event attracted 393 exhibitors from 28 countries. Among the exhibitors of primarily gifts, handicrafts, accessories and housewares were 41 textiles companies. The show combined product categories but divided the floor by country.

A few 90-minute seminars were also provided. Topics included Importing 101: A Beginner's Guide to Sourcing From Overseas; Finance & Operations: Sourcing the Biggest Bang for Your Buck; Freight & Customs: The Nuts & Bolts of Importing to the U.S.; and Product Development: Bringing Your Design to Market. Private one-hour consultations were available with product developer Rhea Alexander, who is founder, president and design director of DIGS, a New York-based design house that produces high-end home accessories.

According to Milyovska Tatyana, a designer for Mattis, a Macedonian sheepskin producer of carpets and floor cushions as well as decorative apparel items, the products were all mixed together without much organization.

"I think the fair needs to be presented better, but I have been making contacts with new suppliers, buyers and designers who have liked my collections, which is a really good start for us," said Tatyana. She described the flow of visitors as slower over the weekend and good during Monday and Tuesday.

Meliton Soliz Ortiz, manager of Artesanias Merino from Bolivia, who exports wool floor coverings and blankets to Ohio and Florida, added, "There are opportunities to meet other people here, but there are lots of different products available, which makes it difficult."

Ortiz has attended both annual Sources shows in New York, hoping to expand his U.S. business.

"This year is slower than last," said Mohit Singhal of New Delhi, India-based House of Incas that specializes in hand embroidery and produces dec pillows, runners, tablecloths and placemats.

"We had hoped that more people would know about the show this time and would come visit," he said. "This show has potential if there is more awareness created in the wholesale community and with buyers." House of Incas has been selling to the United States for four years.

Jeet Sethi, sales director for A to Z Fine Imports of New Delhi, which has an office in Toronto, said that overall his company is pleased with the show's results.

"We are trying to get into the U.S. market and being part of this show is our first step," said Sethi. "There's a lot of smaller retailers who have shown interest, but that is not effective for us because they want to place smaller orders. However, we will come out of it with a few good customers."

A to Z manufactures quilts, curtains, pillows, tablecloths, placemats and cushions.

Lourdes Mena Suay, general manager and designer for Indigo Trading of El Salvador, added, "The goal here is to sell our products, and find people interested in our concept of preserving the traditions of the Indigo crop. This is a window for us to exhibit products, and let people know about a very different side of El Salvador."

Indigo Trading makes blankets, wall hangings, hammocks, table linens, towels, and infant towels and robes that are dyed with indigo.

Zoran Todorovski, marketing manager for Azur, a Macedonian producer of wool rugs, said, "After three days working my booth, the show has been beyond expectations. We have made a great number of contacts already, and the show is only two years old."

According to officials at Synergy Lifestyles from Mumbai, India, which makes curtains, dec pillows, bedding, table linens, cushion covers and upholstery fabric, Sources is basically a handicraft show that attracts smaller retailers.

"We need to deal in higher volume because it is too expensive for us to work with these small companies," said Archana Naik, who works for Synergy in sales and marketing, adding that the company has been meeting with existing customers and generating new ones.

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