High Point: Active Aspirations

Carole Sloan, October 20, 2008

Noting that business in recent months has slowed, home textiles exhibitors at this week's High Point Market see the interior design community continuing to have a stronger business outlook than the retail furniture channel.

And within the design community, suppliers expect to see close to or as many customers as they have in past markets here. "People are unexpectedly coming, we have had good designer responses," said Ann Gish, head of her namesake high end bedding company. The question, she added, is how many furniture stores will still show up.

Noting that business in furniture stores "is much slower than in other channels," Ridvan Tatargil, principal of Eastern Accents said, "Our interior designer business is going good."

One plus to the situation overall, he added, "is that imports have gotten much more expensive."

"It's slower, but in no way is it bad," said Shari Kline, president of Traditions by Pamela Kline. "We anticipated a more difficult year" and bought what they needed when they needed it. "We listened to our customers and reacted fast."

"We're going to High Point with okay expectations," John Rose, principal of Textillery remarked. "We had a busy New York Gift show market as well as the Miami HD Boutique. September didn't produce enough orders, but the quality was good. We're busy, but a lot is hospitality."

"There's not a lot of optimism, but we think the quality customers will still be here – our blanket business is setting records," said Bob Christnacht, blanket/home division manager, Pendleton.

"High Point also represents tremendous 'to the trade' business sales. It's a huge collectors' market," Christnacht added. "To tie in with this, we are showing jacquard blankets that are washable and distressed, and we expanded our quilt products and top of bed."

The Mixers Collection at Thief River Linen "has been designed as simplified bed sets," remarked Linda Bentson, principal. "We're showing three levels of fabric weights and colors in bed covers, oversized Euros and bedskirts, plus what we're calling 'simplified bedsets' as well as 'Punch pillows' in a range of colors for accent."

JLA Home Fabrics, the decorative fabrics arm of JLA Home that is dedicated primarily to the furniture industry at this time, is launching a bed ensemble program geared to furniture retailers, said George Kerr, president of the division.

The division will not be selling decorative bedding to the JLA Home customer base, which includes companies like Target, JCPenney and the like. Inventory will be based in Reidsville, N.C. with backup in China, Kerr stated.

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