Strong Sales at Showtime

Carole Sloan, December 18, 2006

High Point, N.C. — Decorative fabric retailers and jobbers provided the sales push for exhibitors at Showtime here earlier this month.

The show is largely appointment-only with few drop-ins. While many exhibitors concurred on an apparent decline in general traffic, most reported a full slate of appointments. What is impacting Showtime in terms of attendance, some believe, is the increasing number of home textiles suppliers and furniture manufacturers shopping for fabrics in China as well as India and Turkey.

And while Showtime typically is predominantly a sample request event, more exhibitors reported writing orders.

“It was unbelievable,” exclaimed Mike Shelton, president of Valdese. “We had very high expectations for both lines — the debut of the Wesley Mancini by Valdese Weavers line as well as the Valdese line. By any measure we exceeded our expectations in both.”

For Michael Day, vp of Textile Fabric Associates, “We had solid appointments, great response and tremendous orders from fabric retailers.”

“It certainly was less well attended,” was the view of Jack Cobb, president of Westgate by adf. “The smaller fabric retailers were not there in the numbers as they had been in the past. But overall, we were busy.”

Noting that Showtime as well as the decorative fabric business “is different and evolving” from its past, Jim Richman, ceo of Richloom observed, “We wrote a surprising amount of business.”

The key difference now for decorative fabrics, he contends, “is that business is done year-round. We saw many of our big customers before Showtime — and many in China.”

“We saw all the major jobbers and had very positive reactions — it was great,” said Jason Carr, president of Softline Home Fashions. The company expanded its show space in the temporary area of the Suites at Market Square to 1,200 square feet and set up two focus presentations — a black and white vignette and one with a romantic theme.

The result, he noted, was the Best Booth Award presented by Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc., the owner of Market Square and the Suites. “As always we had about our usual 110 appointments, and the reception to the line was extremely good,” said John Lenox, president of Circa 1801/Doblin. Noting that “October was a terrible market” (the High Point Furniture Market) bested only by the 2005 October market, Lenox believes that the April furniture market is the key one, and therefore will influence the way fabrics are bought.

For Roger Gilmartin, ceo of Covington New York, “We wrote more business but there was more sample ordering. It was hard to get a feel as to how people feel about 2007. I don't think anyone knows.”

“There wasn't a lot of traffic but our scheduled appointments held,” Mark Aizawa, president of Chris Stone noted. He feels “there is a discernible difference between the June and December markets in terms of buyer interest and attendance. “We've got lots of follow up appointments.”

For Tom Finneran, president of American Century Home Fabrics, “Showtime went pretty well. We saw quite a few retailers, but they're having hard time. They're not buying in depth.”

For Craftex, which set its Antique Roadshow licensed collection in a separate show space, “Showtime was actually good. We had the highest number of appointments we ever had, and surprisingly more from California and Texas.”

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