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Don't look now

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, August 30, 2004

Well it looks like something positive might be happening in the world of home textiles.

Recently, there have been a number of developments that could strengthen this business or, if not successful, just cast the whole industry adrift with individual companies fighting not just each other but the rest of the business world.

The news about the cancellation of the Hometex Design Awards for this upcoming market was a signal something was afoot. Then came the news that a committee was set up to evaluate what the Hometex, as well as the Retailer of the Year Awards, mean, if anything.

These awards have been beleaguered for years. Political influences, the need to have star-studded recipients, and the refusal by some of those who deserve the accolades to receive the recognition adds up to a running-in-place situation.

Then there's the subject of market dates. Another committee has been formed to explore whether the existing timing schedule is really relevant to today's business activities.

What we here at HTT learned during the most recent "mini-market" — or was it — was that there was no consistency from company to company in viewpoint. Some companies had back-to-back week-long retail visits; others didn't even bother to open the doors and turn on the lights.

Just last year there was a major change bringing the September market date of 2003 forward to the more traditional October date of years past.

But now we're faced with a complex and rapidly changing way of doing business. And to the credit of the Home Fashion Products Association, they are determined to find the best timing for most people — even if it means major calendar changes.

And then there is the issue of flammability and the apparent lack of cohesive positioning regarding the governmental actions that could radically change the way home textiles products are made.

Industry involvement has been minimal, to the point that meetings on the subject draw less than a dozen players.

Folks, this challenge is real — and could well have a major financial impact as well as an operational one on how you do business. When you guys — and sadly, it is mostly guys — are contacted by the various committee members, give them thoughtful answers. Your business lives could depend on it.

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