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Exhibitors Pleased with Gift Fair

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, September 7, 2009

Home textiles exhibitors at the New York International Fair and the concurrent showroom building shows at 7 West and 230 Fifth Avenue were relatively pleased with the outcome.

The positive responses were in large measure due to a need for new merchandise or replenishment of existing merchandise — both of which had been on hold by many retailers during the year.

Buyers at each of the venues here last month appeared to be more serious about making purchases than they had at earlier shows around the country, many exhibitors noted. Store shelves had been depleted, and with the fall season at the cusp, new product was essential if the season were to be productive.

"Overall, business for us continues to climb, but it's still a struggle," said Arthur Viente, vp of Blissliving. "At Javits, we wrote more business the first day than at the entire show last season — and we had a smaller space."

Overall, Viente noted, "The number of exhibitors seemed to be down significantly, but the number of buyers seemed to be level with the last show." The big difference, he said, "was that they were more serious about product and making decisions."

Viente also remarked that all shows are too long and for most purposes "the Javits show was over on Tuesday. These shows just don't have to be as long."

Home Source International had "a fantastic show at Javits" with its rep One Coast, said Keith Sorgeloos, president. "In the last few markets, we stayed in our showroom at 230 Fifth and no one came. Now we took a small space with One Coast and had a stellar three days."

Differing somewhat about the impact of 230 Fifth Avenue, Claudia Parati, general manager for Italian luxury bedding producer Zambaiti, said "We wrote business, and we didn't expect the traffic."

"It was really great; there was a major uptick," said Cathy Stemmler, general manager of luxury supplier SDH. "Almost everyone that came into our stand wrote orders, and our most expensive introduction — $1000 for a sheet set — is our best seller. And 20% of our orders were new introductions."

Peacock Alley left Javits to show exclusively at 7 West with its year-round rep East Coast rep, Mary Harper Group. "It was a matter of money and value. At Javits we had so few customers in January and at the show in summer '08 that we felt we had strong year-round coverage. I really struggled with this," she added.

Pamela Kline, ceo of Traditions, observed that traffic appeared good, and "people were showing a different attitude — and buying."

A different viewpoint was expressed by Ryan Jones, a principal of Stellar Alliance, who was showing with one of its European producers, Ibena, for the first time at Javits. "It lived up to my lowest expectations," he said, adding "We got some good leads for customers interested in our U.S. warehouse program."

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