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Strong Reviews for Las Vegas Market

Las Vegas — A new and different audience created a very upbeat market for home textiles suppliers showing at the home furnishings market at the World Market Center and Mandalay Bay Convention Center here last week.

The roster of home textiles exhibitors exceeded those showing at the debut market here last July. For some, this event will become their West Coast market, filling a vacuum that has existed for more than a decade in home textiles. For others it is a clear opportunity to expand distribution channels.

For a number of home textiles exhibitors, the challenge was in staffing, since the New York International Gift Fair and Maison et Objet were being held at the same time.

As Rob O'Neill, vp of Southern Textiles observed, “We saw a lot of regular customers, gained new ones and saw a number that hadn't been to market in several years. There was a good spirit and good business.” In addition, he noted, “Retailers in furniture and bedding specialty stores are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of decorative bedding as part of their bedroom furniture or mattress sales. It's a natural tie-in.”

For Dianne Morris, president of Bay Linens, this show was an experiment. “We've seen all kinds of retailers we don't see in New York — furniture stores, interior designers, model home designers and furniture specialty stores. We're pleased with the traffic and responses. The home textiles market is moving in two directions: the big retailers and these smaller ones. Now that we've seen their reactions, we may focus on them [the smaller retailers] also.”

SDH was one of the exhibitors with a three-way show challenge. “We had a lot of traffic, and 75% of them were people we would want to sell,” said Catherine Stemmer, national sales manager. Several of the company's West Coast customers stopped here en route to or back from the New York show, she added. As for the venue, “Having us all together [in the Messe Frankfurt Interior Lifestyle USA pavilion] is much better for the higher end companies.”

“It's definitely the Western customer that is here,” stated Dan Fine, vp, Peacock Alley, whose company also was showing in New York. Comparing July with this event, he said, “Traffic is better, the organization is better and our dollars written are better.” The customer base here, he added, is 75% designers and specialty stores, with the balance furniture stores. “It's an evolution of our customer base, as more furniture stores get into home textiles because it basically is a turnkey sale.”

A similar view was expressed by Arthur Viente, director of sales for Legacy, which was writing good business. “It's local, a lot of West Coast and a few East Coast retailers. They are mostly interior designers, furniture stores and boutiques.”

Exhibiting in Vegas was an attempt by Hudson Industries to expand its distribution, “which as an American manufacturer we desperately need to do,” explained vp Lonnie Scheps. “While we're rookies here, we think it represents a new avenue for us, and we see an opportunity for High Point as well.”

“We need to be here to develop new customers,” Kim Forzese, customer service manager for Company C, emphasized. The firm was showing simultaneously in New York, “but here we're seeing furniture stores, some designers and model home developers. In New York, it's more people we already know.”

“It's been absolutely fantastic,” said Dan Schecter, vp, Carpenter. “The quality of the buyers was high, and they asked great questions about our specialty products and wrote orders. We saw buyers from department stores to small chains, large chains and specialty bedding retailers.”

Manual Woodworkers and Weavers, which is moving into its permanent showroom next year, “had a lot of leads, and an opportunity to show to furniture stores and decorators that don't go to gift shows,” said Sandra Pryor, sales director. “And we wrote business.”

For Ashley Wilde and Studio Décor, which showed under the Johnny Keeton banner, the show was strong. Nicholas Jones, export manager for Ashley Wilde, noted, “We sold lots of cushions and throws, and met a lot of people we don't normally see from the West Coast and Southwest. Valshali Mehta, showroom manager for Studio Décor, said, “It was a really good show; we sold lots of bedding, curtains and cushions.”

Jason Carr, principal in Softline Home Fashions, remarked, “This is not a typical fabric/ready-made show. There's a different type of customer here and we're working with furniture manufacturers, tabletop, and hospitality people from the show.”

For Messe Frankfurt, which organized the Interior Lifestyle USA pavilion: “We're very pleased, very satisfied — from the perspective of looks, presentation and attendance,” said Daniel McKinnon, executive director. He noted that the January event “presents more of a challenge than July because of the several European shows within the same month. We know that July will be much bigger because of the participation of the Italian and French groups that have already committed.”

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