Dallas Fabric Show nets orders for satisfied vendors, retailers

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, February 5, 2001

DALLAS -As the Dallas Fabric Association's semi-annual fabric show continues to evolve from a furniture manufacturer-driven event to one boasting a wide range of distribution channels in its customer base, exhibitors were generally pleased with the traffic and the actual order writing last week.

Randy Schmit, newly elected president of DFA and a representative for Purcell/Letchinger, commented that "we had a 15 percent increase in attendance compared with January 2000."

According to Schmit, customers reported that "January business looked good even though November and December were a little soft."

Discussing the customer base at the show, Schmit noted the "biggest increase was in the medium-sized manufacturers, who make a wide range of products other than furniture." Retail participation also was strong for the 27th year of the show, he added.

"Our customers said last year was the best ever, but we're still going to fight harder for business," said Walter Linn, director of sales for Waverly. "I'm gratified with the results here."

"It's definitely a mood of cautious optimism," said Tim Rudd, regional representative for Richloom, who also noted that Monday-opening day-produced the greatest number of people at the show. Retailers, Rudd added, "may be cautious but they're not hesitant about buying-they're leaving orders."

At the same time, he noted that manufacturers "are asking for our opinions more than I can remember in the past. Overall, the attitude has been very positive."

On a less positive side, Lew Magrish, senior vp, Chris Stone & Associates, remarked, "Traffic was just fair all around, and we had buyers from soup to nuts-apparel, decorative accessories, retail, distributors, and manufacturers. And there were a lot of people pushing closeouts."

The geographical reach of the show expanded as well, according to Oscar Reig Plaza, sales manager for Covington Fabrics. "We've seen customers from Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, California and Alabama as well as the entire Southwest."

A change from the past was the way the mom-and-pop fabric stores addressed buying.

"They are writing orders, but initial selections are more carefully made," said Reig Plaza "And where they would order samples to let customers pick the colors on 25 percent of their mix, now it's up to 40 percent."

Reig Plaza considers the event here as second only to Showtime in High Point, NC, as a draw for both retailers and manufacturers. "It was a furniture-focused show; now it's a decorative show. We had 70 appointments in three days."

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