Vegas Exhibitors Cross Their Fingers

Carole Sloan, September 7, 2009

Home textiles suppliers are looking at the market at the World Market Center here mid-month with a mix of hope and apprehension.

Buyer attendance has been inconsistent at other trade shows in recent months, and several exhibitors believe that the conflict in dates with the New York Home Fashions Market and the High Point (N.C.) furniture market preview the same week will dilute traffic from the major retail players who might otherwise have attended.

The slight uptick in orders over the past 60 to 90 days is creating a modest degree of optimism among some suppliers, but many say business overall is still slow, and efforts to gain business involve expanding targets beyond typical distribution channels.

"It's hard to tell, but the impact on traffic from the timing conflict with High Point's premarket week will be significant in terms of traffic," said Ridvan Tatargil, ceo of Eastern Accents.

Tatargil added: "We're beginning to get stock orders versus just special orders, which hadn't been happening until the last month or two. There are two elements selling — the simpler styles that are obviously less cost but also the high end. There's just too much chatter about the level of spending."

For Home Source International, which shows in the One Coast showroom, Keith Sorgeloos, ceo said: "We're looking to attract the high-end specialty stores and spas and some furniture stores."

The company will introduce its licensed Vera bedding programs and Portico organic bed and bath, which should be "fantastic on the West Coast." Home Source will host a party Monday night featuring Portico spokesperson Summer Rayne Oakes, model/activist/author/blogger/TV host.

Vegas is a question mark in the view of Lonnie Scheps, vp of Hudson Inds., who said: "We are counting on the far West Coast and international buyers as well as a few East Coast retailers to make the market."

An additional plus for Hudson, he noted, "is that we get more traffic in the Specialty Sleep showroom, so it gives us a tad of optimism. It's also much less expensive there than in a separate space."

Overall Scheps said, "Back-to-school has been pretty flat for most companies, but our bean bags have held to the planned dollars."

For Aico, the market here will see the launch of a new bedding collection "geared to our opulent traditional signature," said Laurie Phillips, vp merchandising, soft lines. "We're focusing on where customers can see the value of the products and add furniture dealers as well as new retail segments."

"I think Vegas will be really slow. A lot of majors [in the furniture segment] are not coming because of the High Point premarket and also the New York home textiles event," said Jesse Galili, vp, Hallmart Collectibles. Overall, business is still slow, and we're knocking on more doors and distribution sectors — especially since furniture stores are pulling back."

The outlook for Vegas is also hazy for Cathy Stemmler, general manager of SDH, who said: "I feel the West Coast people are going, and I know of a number of people who are going for the first time."

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