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  • Warren Shoulberg

New Blood, Old Sweat & the Usual Tears

Warren Shoulberg Publisher/Editorial DirectorWarren Shoulberg Publisher/Editorial Director
SO, ASSUMING YOU'VE made it through another season (and sadly, some of our friends have not), you're back in beautiful downtown textiles land for New York market week.
     As usual, there is the look of familiarity to much of what will go on this week. That's just the nature of the beast. But there are also some new twists and turns this time around and while we're not talking crazy, stupid here, you may need to pay attention a little more than usual.
     New Blood: If you're one of those vendors focused on your big six or eight customers and not too concerned with attracting new accounts, perhaps you need a shovel to unbury your head from the sand. If you ever needed an object lesson in the dangers of putting too many textiles eggs in one basket, hop on a plane for Plano and see the trail of tears of vendors who have watched their business with the retailer disintegrate over the past year.
     That's why you need to be looking for new blood.
     Did you know a major online retailer of apparel and accessories is coming to market to expand its home textiles business? Did you know the largest furniture retailer in the country is adding decorative bedding to its assortments? Did you know a major consumer electronics chain is adding mattresses and will need top of- the-bed for its floor displays and to sell on a drop-ship basis? Don't fall into the same old-same old trap, whether you're a supplier or a retailer. It can be deadly.
     Old Sweat: The business of getting sheets and towels from CAD computer screens to people's bedrooms and bathrooms remains an arduous journey and that's not going to change. Sure, some of the steps in the process change - country of origin, ordering process, ful filment - but the fundamental things still apply.
     You need to have excellent supply chain management processes, good cash flow and some smarts to make the whole thing work. That's the same as it ever was. It's why you do indeed need to sweat the details.
     The Usual Tears: While cotton prices have stayed pretty stable since the Great Cotton Crisis of '10-11, the same can't be said for yarn prices. Maybe it's those pesky Chinese trying to control the market, maybe it's a shortage of good quality cotton, maybe it's politics in Asia Minor - maybe corn and soy are really the bad guys here - but whatever the reason, some tears are being shed over how rising yarn costs are impacting product. And unlike raw cotton, yarn impacts all fiber constructions.
     There will no doubt be a few less dry eyes on both sides of the buying equation this week, that's for sure.
     While many baby boomers think it was David Clayton Thomas who came up with this whole Blood, Sweat & Tears thing, it was in fact Winston Churchill. By the way, in his original quote, there was a fourth element he spoke about: "toil."
     Toil away this week.

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