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Do Not Recycle This Checklist

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 17, 2007

As the year comes to a close, the home textiles world seems to be looking for what it wants to be when it grows up. Here is a checklist of considerations for the industry.

• We’ve had a year where one would think that a particular product’s price couldn’t sink any lower. Then – the next week — BOOM!!! — a major decline from a big hitter, and not necessarily the Bentonville behemoth.

• Now we’re immersed in the “how many pieces can you stuff into a package” war. We’ve long had the Macy’s scenario of 24 pieces. They’ve now been overshadowed by Linens ’n Things with a 30-piece extravaganza at $249. But that epic marketing was quickly eclipsed by Garden Ridge.

Based in Texas, and of course everything in Texas is bigger than anywhere else, this home furnishings and home textiles goliath is offering customers a 48-piece package of home textiles stuff for a mere $229.99 for the king and queen sizes.

This package has intrigued those who have seen its contents — an all-polyester array of typical bedding and window stuff, plus embellishments like fabric covered hangers, lingerie bags, lampshade covers, tissue box covers and table cloths. And there’s also an open-top storage ottoman.

Just think of the poor woman who opens this Pandora’s box, doesn’t like it and tries to schlep it back to the store for credit!

• The war of “my brand vs. your brand” has escalated to the point where consumers appear to not really care nor understand the heritage of the name/brand. Most of the retail exclusive “brands” are not marketed to any point where there is a consumer awareness of what the brand is, what it represents in terms of style, quality or pricing.

• The pundits are mouthing how the mortgage crisis is inhibiting home furnishings sales. Retail moguls are bemoaning the lack of creativity in the home world. But no one is really addressing the fact that when people can’t move, they might want to redo some of what they’ve been looking at for eons.

• And then we have the whole universe of eco-stuff in home textiles with suppliers and retailers trying to outdo each other with their plans to help save the planet. Just looking at organic cotton crops alone, there still is not enough to serve the needs of some of the eco-retailers like Patagonia and L.L. Bean as well as the professed commitments by the likes of Wal-Mart and others to supply the demand.

The coming year might be the tipping point for the home textiles world in terms of change for the better. On that note, here’s to a great 2008.

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