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Cecile Corral

Mini-market offers major discounts

New York — The winter market breezed in during this city's coldest week of the season and quickly turned into one of the more value-oriented events to date for the industry.

Suppliers took advantage of this three-day February market to either promote their holiday wares in table linens, kitchen textiles, decorative pillows and throws or give retailers a sneak peak at their bedding, rugs and bath products for the New York Home Textiles market in April.

Taking center stage at many company's showrooms were reduced price points, in some cases starting price points that reached never-before-seen levels in response to demand from aggressive retailers and shoppers.

Following suit, Avanti, based in Moonachie, NJ, is bringing back an old bath department favorite — the fingertip towel rack display.

"It was popular about 20 years ago, and I haven't seen it since, until now," said Ellen Tuinstra, buyer, Younkers, a 50-store home goods chain based in Des Moines, IA. She then committed to adding the display to 20 of her stores.

As Arthur Tauber, chairman, explained, "It's a great value, 'gifty' item that generates $2,500 at retail within a 1.5-square-foot space. How can you go wrong?"

On the rack, Avanti is including 500 total embellished fingertip towels in 72 designs — 36 embroidered cursive initials on a white background and 36 stand-alone designs, none of which coordinate with any of Avanti's towel ensemble collections. Each towel is set to retail for $2.50.

New York-based Park B. Smith's all-natural, 8-year-old Eco-Ordinates bedding line just got a new starting price point. The company gave an April preview of the line's new Eco-Spa collection, highlighted by the Eco-Escondido pattern, set to retail for $29.99 for a twin duvet. Eco-Escondido is available in a single style — a natural-colored waffleweave that includes coordinating duvet, comforter, shams and bed skirt.

Price points haven't necessarily gone down at New York-based Revere Mills, but the quality of starting price point product has been raised, said Dan Harris, vp, marketing and product development.

"We've put the money back into quality of merchandise and still maintained our low prices," Harris said.

For its kitchen textile pre-packs imported from China, Revere is using 2.3-pound heavier-weight kitchen towels and heavier-weight fabrics and thicker fill on the oven mitts and potholders. Revere has also added to the mix some heavier-weight double jacquard kitchen towels from Turkey.

Price points for pre-packs — including a kitchen towel, oven mitt and potholder — remain at $1.49 to $1.99. The double jacquard towels are set at $2.99.

Greensboro, NC-based Bacova introduced a new bleached coir mat with a vinyl backing for a reduced price point of $9.99 for a 16" x 28". The new mats are imported from India and cost less than Bacova's main line of domestically made coir mats, which are slightly larger at 20" x 30" and retail for about $14.99.

New York-based Ex-Cell Home Fashions' decorative pillow division came out with a variety of new offerings that in some cases, such as tapestries and some novelty holiday pillows, hit that value price point range — $7.99 to $14.99.

Carson, CA-based Brentwood Originals is "repositioning our price point for our chenilles," said Loren Sweet, president. "We're moving down at retail."

Sweet said the company's opening price point for throws is now $19.99 for a new product, an all-rayon throw imported from India.

New York-based Town & Country Living put heavy emphasis on appliqued product for mini-market, allowing the company to reach a lower price point — for example, a runner for $9.99 down from $12.99, said Frank Scalice, executive vp, sales and marketing.

"We're making a little less of a margin, but so is the retailer and our manufacturers, all in an effort to help satisfy the customer," he said.

Also low on Town & Country's price list were tapestry-made table linens, "as low as $1.99 for a place mat," Scalice added.

Arlee's Bud Frankel, president of the New York-based firm, said his company's merchandise has been reduced by 20 percent. "Our chenille pillows are down to $10 each and our tapestries are down to $8 at retail," Frankel said.

Montgomery, AL-based Riverdale Decorative Products hooked up a better deal from a new mill partner it works with to produce some decorative pillow lines, said Cheryl McLain, vp, merchandising and marketing.

"We've negotiated a lower price point on our engineered tapestries, letting us go down by at least $3 per 18-inch pillow," McLain explained.

The decorative pillow division of Los Angeles-based Cecil Saydah, known as Louisville Saydah, came out with a chunky chenille called Dalton as well as novelty Christmas designs that are set to retail for as low as $9.99. "We felt compelled at this market to be at that $9.99 price point," said Vivian Acerbo, vp, marketing.

Likewise, Design Network, the rug and mat affiliate of The Cecil Saydah Co., paired up with the decorative pillow division to create a competitively priced Back-to-School line that includes cotton rugs bearing a gingham design available in three colorways for $4.99.

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