High End Vendors Upbeat on High Point

Heath E. Combs, Carole Sloan, October 1, 2007

Home textiles exhibitors at the High Point Market this week are cautious about its outcome in terms of attendance by retailers, the macro-economic conditions, and the general ennui that has been plaguing the home furnishings community from the high end to promotional retailers.

For some, mostly in the higher end of the spectrum with specialty lines, business this year has been good; others have found that mainstream retailing is more difficult.

"We have more introductions for High Point, and Las Vegas was good," said Ridvan Tatargil, president of Eastern Accents. The company is adding to its product mix with upholstered headboards and a monogrammed pillow collection, he said, as well as 14 new bedding collections.

"We're very cautious," explained Jesse Galili, vp, from Hallmart Collectibles. "Business generally is tougher across the board — all retail distribution channels." As a result for market Hallmart is showing "more look for lower prices. We'll have big promotional programs for drastically reduced show specials — some 30 to 40 groups."

Despite this concern, Hallmart has added 4,000 square feet to its show space that became available when a neighboring exhibitor cancelled. The company now has more than 9,000 square feet.

Ann Gish, whose high-end bedding company shows at a number of markets across the country, related, "All the other markets this year have been fantastic. I know a lot of people are coming, I expect that they will be buying since you don't come to High Point not to do that."

With a major decorative bedding collection making its debut from noted home furnishings designer Donna Kaiser, Southern Textiles' president Richard Downing said, "Realistically, we hope it will be a good market. Business has been good the last few months."

Downing added, "There's a real opportunity for high quality product in the huge middle market, and we're making our product domestically and controlling the quality and quantities. Our fashion statement is more precise that quantity-driven stores."

Annie Selke, head of the multi-product Pine Cone Hill family, said, "We've moved to the Interhall in the IHFC, and we're hoping to get on the fourth floor," where a number of upper end home textiles companies are housed.

For Pine Cone Hill, business is good — rugs are extremely strong and bedding is very good, Selke reported. To enhance the company's merchandising efforts, "We're working on a wholesale catalog," she reported.

"We're always positive, and we have appointments which is encouraging — from large catalogs to small boutiques," said Pamela Kline, ceo of Traditions by Pamela Kline.

The designer business is still strong, Kline noted, "and High Point still has a big following with them."

In contrast, Linda Bentson, president of Thief River Linen was uncertain, "but I'm ready to think this will be better than the last market."

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