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Cecile Corral

Retailers Look to Spruce Offerings in Atlanta

Atlanta — Recent sluggish sales for the rug category may spur what some anticipate will be a higher-than-normal retailer turnout at the upcoming Atlanta International Area Rug show.

Suppliers said their appointment books were filling up faster this market compared to past July shows, with more specialty chains, in particular, booking face time, as retailers look to invigorate their assortments.

“The first six months of this year, rug sales were flat to a little up, so we’re going to Atlanta to find new and exciting rugs to enhance our assortments and displays,” said Gary Cissell, director of flooring for Nebraska Furniture Mart. “And we also want to discuss with our suppliers possible new programs, promotions and ideas that will help us generate more traffic.”

Momeni is one of the companies looking to explore new businesses with its retail customers.

“Spring was an up-and-down season for most retailers, but the mood for fall is decent,” said Austin Craley, vice president, sales, Momeni. “At this show, we’re going to be able to build on that. We’ll have more time to work more closely with our customers and everyone gets more out of this visit. We come up with new ideas, and we may even get some surprise business.”

Patrick Moyer, president, Balta U.S., said his customers are looking for “new opportunities to finish up the second half of the year strong and add spice to their assortments. There’s pent-up demand out there.”

He added that Balta U.S. has an “incredibly busy appointment schedule, more so than I had in January, in fact. And that is certainly encouraging.”

Shaw Living’s list of appointments includes more mass-merchant retailers than normal for this market, said John McLeod, vice president of sales and marketing for mass merchants. “I was surprised at the number of mass retailers showing up, actually. But I think it’s because our customers are looking for something new and different. Business has been tough. More retailers than usual are coming to this market to try and jumpstart their business again.”

Macy’s Home and May Co.’s Hecht’s stores are attending, both looking for new product.

“I’m going to Atlanta and I’m looking for the latest in transitional and contemporary looks,” said Keith Arlinghaus, senior rug buyer, Macy’s Home. “Price points and construction are moot points. I’m just looking for new color and design.”

Brian Doherty, buyer of area rugs and floor coverings for Hecht’s, said he is also attending and is “open to anything.”

In an earlier interview, The Great Indoors’ Decorative Rug Buyer Alyson Angotti said she had plans of attending this month’s show in Atlanta.

But not making a stop this time around is Gary Nickolie, rug buyer for Kohl’s. While he makes a point of coming to the January event, he only occasionally stops by Atlanta in July — and this year will not be one of those times.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve made changes to our assortment, and right now we have no need to go,” Nickolie explained. “I’ve got everything in place now through early ’06. It is always helpful to see the design and color direction at these shows, but this time we’ll wait until January.”

Those retailers that are attending want “the next hot thing,” McLeod said.

With recent new innovations in color, construction and design, suppliers have a lot to offer retailers looking for freshness, said Larry Mahurter, director of advertising and sales promotion, Couristan.

“It’s a very exciting time for our industry, in terms of color and design,” Mahurter said. “There are new innovations, color forecasting and new constructions.”

Couristan recently updated its assortment to “adapt to the times,” adding new hand-tufted and hand-knotted styles and expanded power-loomed varieties in more promotional price points.

“Driving the market today are color and design,” he continued. “We are far more fashionable than ever before as an industry and, as a company, Couristan has become far more fashion-oriented than ever before.”

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