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Modest Traffic at High Point

High Point, N.C. —It wasn't the worst of worlds, but neither was it anywhere near the best — so far as home textiles exhibitors at the High Point Market late last month were concerned.

Before market, most exhibitors set their expectations at a dramatically lower level than for a normal market, and for those catering primarily to the interior designer trade, those expectations were more than met, if not exceeded. Order writing appeared to be OK, but the quantities were definitely smaller, many exhibitors commented.

For those with a mixed customer base — interior designers, independent specialty stores, furniture stores, catalogs and internet — or any combination, there were varied results. Interestingly, a couple of high-end bedding suppliers reported working with customers opening new home textiles specialty stores — even in this environment.

“The people who came were there to make the best of it, and to make important vendor partnerships,” said Mark Ferullo, vp, Rizzy Home. As a result, he termed the company's activity “very good, and we never left our space before 7 p.m.” He added, “There's no question that traffic was off.” And unlike many other exhibitors, most of the company's traffic was furniture stores and some catalogs.

“Designers still have ongoing projects, and they were shopping,” noted Pamela Kline, ceo of Traditions by Pamela Kline. “But there were not a lot of people; people are cutting back on shows where they can.” Kline also commented that the show is “too long; Monday was good, Tuesday was dead, Wednesday and Thursday were good, Friday was surprisingly good and Saturday died.”

Ann Gish, owner of her namesake company said, “It was much slower than usual; designers are doing a lot of projects, but retailers were writing smaller quantities.”

“I don't understand it, but we had a really good show. It was better than our last three shows here and in Vegas; I didn't expect it,” remarked Ridvan Tatargil, president of Eastern Accents. “We saw a lot of designers and our traditional retail store accounts and they wrote a lot of orders, but not large quantities.”

One possible reason for the strength of his business, Tatargil explained, “is that our minimums are small.”

Another surprise result was registered at Pendleton where “We had our biggest Monday in history,” said Bob Christnacht, blanket/home division manager.

But he added, “The balance was quiet; it needs to be three days maximum.”

“We had modest expectations, and it was what we expected, we met those expectations,” said John Rose, co-principal, Textillery Weavers. “We didn't hear gloom and doom, but more caution.” As for a challenge some suppliers are facing, Rose noted, “We have no credit problem; credit cards have made that easier. Overall, payments are a little slower, but we are watching the situation.”

Jan Dutton, president of Paper White said, “We revved our engines; we were ready for very sporadic business, but we did get a bit more than that. There was little fervor; it felt like the lights had dimmed.” Hutton added, “It has no real time beginning, and no real end. Furniture stores were gone Wednesday, accessories buyers by Friday and the exhibitors had to stay around 'til Saturday.”

“It's been a struggle, about a third the traffic as last market,” said David Lappert, evp, Chelsea Frank. “Last market, overseas customers were huge, and we didn't see many this time. The biggest downturn was in the number of customers from California.”

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