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Exhibitors Voice Resolve

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, April 7, 2008

While the macro environment appears to grow cloudier, home textiles exhibitors at the High Point Market here this week have moderate expectations — both about attendance and order writing.

While the year started off slowly, there were some indications that home textiles business in the specialty store segment firmed up a bit.

And to further stimulate the appetites of those retailers here this week, a number of suppliers are offering more product in more diversified price ranges — both higher and lower in price than is typical.

"Business picked up in the last month; we had a pretty good March," remarked Ridvan Tatargil, president, Eastern Accents, "but we're getting a mixed message — more people are not attending, and that's because buying patterns may have changed."

The company is offering more new product than last April, adding more expensive and more affordable styles to the mix, he added.

At Thief River Linen, "We will be emphasizing our customized sourcing service for interior designers, especially in the model home and hospitality segments," said Linda Bentson, president.

"I'm more excited about the potential for the market this week than I have been in a long time. We have such good new product and it's right for the High Point customer," Bentson commented, "even though I know attendance will be light because we sent out lots of announcements and heard back that many aren't coming."

Reflecting on the results of the earlier New York market, Ann Gish, head of her namesake bedding company, said, "I thought New York would be bad but it turned out OK. I know people will come, and there are still people spending money."

At Southern Textiles, the company will preview its Pamela Lanier collection created by the bed and breakfast expert and marketer, said Richard Downing, president. "I have high expectations; we have the opportunity to do good business." The four-bed collection will get its major launch push at the Las Vegas market in July, he noted.

For Jesse Galili, vp, Hallmart Collectibles, "There are just too many markets. Things are pretty tough but we just keep showing up." For High Point, the company is adding lots of new products and promotions, as well as new color palettes including more silver and graphite, rust, black and oranges.

Eco-friendly materials also will be a focus at Hallmart, with bamboo and organic cotton emphasized. New comforter packages will be influenced by typical duvet looks, Galili added.

"We feel good in general; we're very big hospitality-wise and we had a good New York and feel it should carry into High Point," said John Rose, president of Textillery. "We haven't heard gloom and doom from our customers, and our receivables are fine."

"Strangely enough, as the economy takes these challenging turns, people are reevaluating their business and how they do it," commented Bob Pearce, vp, and DreamFit. "We are going to be maximizing the traffic we get vs. focusing on expanding our traffic." Overall, Pearce added, "Business is good and I'm still optimistic and hopeful."

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