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High Quality Textiles at High Point

This week's furniture market in High Point, N.C., will provide a new look at how home textiles are regarded by both the suppliers and retailers here.

Traditionally, this has been a market for home textiles focusing on the small specialty retailers, interior designers, and furniture stores. And the supplier base typically has been accustomed to dealing with onesies and twosies — as well as some of the bigger orders.

My, how times have changed.

Today, the specialty suppliers are still in High Point in abundance — catering to this retailer audience. But they are being joined, both overtly and covertly, by some major players in the mainstream home textiles marketplace.

And here is where it gets really interesting.

Now we find that the decades-long efforts to bring at least top-of-the-bed product to furniture stores is paying off. It's being helped by the “KISS” approach to merchandising – simple, non-threatening processes, no inventory and quick delivery.

But here's the catch.

When suppliers approach major furniture store chains like Rooms to Go or Raymour & Flannigan or any of their ilk, they have to be prepared to have exclusive programs that allow the merchandising, pricing, and advertising that they demand — aka, markups and no high-low pricing is typical of the department stores and specialty store goliaths.

The result for the big suppliers — essentially two different strategies.

Then there are the small specialty retailers — a totally unheralded group of merchants who love their product, their customers, and the whole aesthetic of home furnishings. They have been demonized by some so-called consumer mavens as pushing over-priced product that could easily be obtained from China, India, and Pakistan.

Listening to the suppliers and retailers, not so.

Service is a critical element to this segment of the home textiles community. But even more important is the need for breadth of unique, fashion-forward, and extremely high quality product. Not characteristics typical of mainstream home textiles suppliers and retailers.

As the mix of suppliers this week expands, who the winners are will be interesting to identify.

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