New Accounts for Some at Vegas Market

James Mammarella, August 11, 2008

Activity in the halls and throughout many showrooms started strong at the summer Las Vegas Market at the World Market Center here, but exhibitor reaction was decidedly mixed. Some soft home suppliers were pleased with both the level of appointments and walk-in traffic for what several called "High Point West," but others were less enthused by the turnout.

The World Market Center announced that opening day traffic — which spiked in part due to the grand opening of Building C — was up 35% over January 2008 and 21% over July 2007.

Among home textiles suppliers, this market is seen primarily as a gateway to new and incremental sales with furniture retailers. Augmenting business with western independent retailers and interior decorators is another priority. Many first-time exhibitors were testing the venue precisely to gauge their opportunities in these distribution channels.

For example, area rug, throw, decorative pillow and wall art supplier Surya doubled its space here from the January market, a move president Satya Tiwari was necessary given "the launching of several key licensing partnerships and the overall growth of our rug and home accessory collections."

Buyers at Surya had to stride past a pop art fiberglass cow, part of a licensed program that "gets people excited," said Rohit Singh, vp e-commerce. Creating even more buzz, Singh told HTT, were two growing programs: fully coordinated rug-based sets and the CosmoGirl/Seventeen rug line.

For its 100 top-selling area rugs, Surya now offers coordinated throws, dec pillows and wall art — which can retail up to $249 under glass and as high as $549 for canvas, framed. Hangtags on the rug displays show the related goods, making it easy for consumers to self-shop.

Surya has added Chic to the CosmoGirl/Seventeen collection, augmenting the launch line, Lux. Singh said the response to the hand tufted acrylic program ($100 for a 4-foot-10-inch-by-x7-foot) is making the company "very, very happy."

Not as pleased with turnout was upscale resource Pine Cone Hill, where Judy Perreault, sales administrator, said, "Our focus at this show is always on new customers — and we've been disappointed with foot traffic."

Pine Cone Hill is moving further into sophisticated "master bedroom" collections, from its previous "more colorful emphasis," which Perreault said buyers place as "guest room." Therefore the showroom was replete with white, ivory and neutrals, especially platinum as a standout fashion tone. Neiman Marcus is a key client for the Indian-made goods, complemented by Portuguese matelasse.

At Kas Rugs, which unveiled most major 2008 introductions in January, vp sales and marketing Don Newton pointed to several July intros. Natura is a no-dye line of wool area rugs in asymmetrical botanical patterns in sharply contrasting natural wool hues. Bali is a line of hand tufted poly-acrylic rugs offered in two- and three-color combinations. Both lines are aimed at the retail sweet spot of $299 to $349 in the 5-by-8 size.

Hallmart Collectibles tailors goods to furniture retailers, often designing lines in direct product development meetings with them, said vp Jesse Galili. "We sell to all the top 100 furniture retailers," he said. "Our products for them must have lots of appeal, with 'bells and whistles' in the colors, fabrics, embroideries and finishes."

On display among others were an all-cotton reversible, classic-pattern 4-piece bed set retailing at $129-$149, a minimalist menswear-inspired nine-piece set including a double-width sham at $379, and a cocoa and cream multi-needle embroidered tribal-urban look adorned with pintucking.

In the luxury linen area, SDH reported strong reaction to its The Purists collection of luxury European organic goods. "We finally can obtain the range and quality of organic yarns we have been after," SDH national sales manager Cathy Stemmler told HTT. She noted the company has been doing its part to build demand for organic yarns since 1994.

As if to defy the general economic doldrums, Stemmler said the company's recent introduction of its $1,800 (queen, retail) Ankara bedcover, woven of 62% Organzina silk and 38% cashmere wool, has been a magnet for orders.

SDH also is seeing warm response to its Lyon collection, which uses a handful of Italian looms that weave each piece to size; and to Legna, its trademarked collection of yarns made from wood pulp that SDH weaves into ultrasoft sheets of high durability; the latest pattern in the Legna line is Prieta.

Keith Sorgeloos, ceo of bedding and bath producer Home Source, reported brisk business in the showrooms of One Coast, the rep firm that Home Source has partnered with over the last year to penetrate high end accounts across the Western United States.

Both of the leading Home Source product groups — Micro Cotton and bamboo — have gained the loyalty of existing specialty, department store and big-box retailers while attracting new accounts, said Sorgeloos. The company continues to refresh the lines with fashion and new fabrications including luxury bamboo-cotton blend sheet sets (retail target price $299, queen). Home Source is also flexing its fast-delivery muscle with the addition of a new warehousing facility in the Charlotte area.

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