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High Point Vendors Weather Date Changes

Despite a unanimous analysis that traffic was down, home textiles exhibitors at the High Point Market here earlier this month were generally pleased with the results. A growing influx of interior designers and the emergence of a new class of retailers — a cross between an interior design studio and a retailer of high-end home goods — helped business.

Almost as unanimously, textiles folk were critical of the change in dates from a Wednesday or Thursday opening to a Monday opening, and to a Sunday closing versus the previous Tuesday closing.

In the view of many, there were fewer "tire-kickers" but also a drop in the number of smaller specialty retailers. This, some said, was the result of a number of reasons: a severe business slump during the summer, the macro-economic conditions, and to a limited degree the impact of the Las Vegas market.

"We had a great market," stated Lynn Courtade, head of her namesake rep company which represents Home Source, T. Lockman, and Nina Campbell, among others. Courtade cited examples of designers coming here on private planes with their clients to make selections. "And textiles were really the strong part of my showroom. Home Source is amazing — they scored well with the bamboo quilt coverlet and the bamboo sheets; T. Lockman's cashmeres were strong; and the soft plaids from Nina Campbell were winners."

"For us, we did pretty well," said Richard Downing, president of the top of the bed division of Leggett & Platt. "Traffic was off gigantically, but those that were here, were buying. We had very strong response to our mattress protectors, our 750-count cotton sheets with four cases, and the new fabrics and tailoring changes in the bedding."

"Sales for October are ahead of last year," Ridvan Tatargil, president of Eastern Accents, added, "We did miss people, and it has to do with the date changes." But he noted, "We tested some beds on our website and in the catalog, but didn't show them in the showroom here. The website beds sold well. The catalog beds are too soon to tell, since the catalog just went out."

"I don't know what they accomplished by changing the dates, since it was very slow over the weekend," Jane Wright, marketing director for Company C remarked. "We saw our big customers, but traffic was lighter than normal."

The change in opening and closing "was difficult; it confused the dealers, and foot traffic was considerably down — overall probably 25% down" in the opinion of Jesse Galili, vp sales for Hallmart. The expanded launch of the Kathy Ireland bedding collection "pulled a lot of dealers; it's a recognizable brand and we sell about 60% of her furniture retailers already. We also saw a lot of repeat customers, and we do a lot of specific developmental work for retailers" who came to the space.

"There wasn't much business on the weekend," said Pamela Kline, principal of Traditions by Pamela Kline. "We had a few very large customers come in and that saved the show, but there weren't many smaller companies." Kline remarked, "I see the biggest growth coming from the interior designer business — the custom part of the business we've always catered to." Stores, she observed, "are stocking less and less and they're wanting to do more custom work, specific merchandise for individual customers."

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