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  • Cecile Corral

At rug show, casual chic is in vogue

In a year characterized by soft retail sales and fluctuating consumer confidence, the area rug business is focusing on affordable and casual synthetic styles to move goods.

Polypropylene, olefin, nylon and synthetic blends in improved qualities and trend-right fashions — particularly those reflecting relaxed and modern designs — are being pitched to retailers shopping the Atlanta Rug Show this week.

"There is a lot of polypropylene and synthetic product out there not just because of price but also because the quality has gotten so much better, especially with the colors and designs," said Philip Koufidakis, vp of sales, Syosset, NY-based Stanton Carpet Corp., traditionally a carpet supplier that recently added area rugs made of high-quality man-made synthetic fibers and wool to its offerings.

Soft loop nylon rugs are a first for Milliken Rugs, LaGrange, GA, which has combined this new construction with tropical and casual contemporary designs to create its newest collection, Potpourri.

"Loop is a product that is rare right now in the market place but by having it as part of our offering it allows us to offer customers more added value," said Robby Burch, product manager, area rugs.

Potpourri represents a middle-of-the-road price point bracket of $199 to $249 previously void in Milliken's cut-and-pile area rug offerings, which fall between a $149 to $179 and a $249 to $299 range.

Central Oriental is using its patented polypropylene heat-set construction to offer new better-quality but competitively priced area rug collections this summer, such as Stratford, set at $149 for a 5' x 8' and Troika, set for $199.

Anderson, SC-based Orian Rugs' new Shakespeare Collection, made in a 1.5-million-point construction using high-density fine denier polypropylene yarns, brings the company's average price up slightly by about $50 to $349 for a 5' x 8' Othello design. Orian's average price point for that size is about $299.

"Our Shakespeare collection is still made of polypropylene heat set yarns but our machinery allows us to do better design work on these rugs and make better looking rugs at still affordable prices," Dan Statuto, national sales manager, said. "It's better quality for the right price."

Reaching all levels of retail with price-savvy product — from promotional to high-end — is not new to Sugar Valley, GA-based Mohawk Home, said Bill Kilbride, president. The company is "well prepared" for tackling retailers' value-oriented needs with its range of new product offerings that include a new licensed program with artist Susan Sargent, the new Karaloc collection of faux sisal rugs and a new 10-color woven creel rug collection featuring 20 transitional designs, he said.

Brooklyn, NY-based Hellenic Rug Imports hopes its new higher-definition polypropylene collection, Tabriz, made in a 1-million-point construction in contemporary designs, will attract attention.

"These are uncertain times, but people are still buying even though they have less extra money. They don't want to spend $4,000 on a rug if they just bought a $700 couch." said Steve Mazarakis, president, Brooklyn, NY-based Hellenic Rug Imports.

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