Postive Note at Showtime

Carole Sloan, December 14, 2009

A more positive attitude than in the last two events prevailed at Showtime here last week.

At the same time, there was an undercurrent of growing concern — the stability of the supplier community — whether fiber, dyer, finisher or weaver. The situation, some pointed out, is not limited to the ongoing situation in the United States but also is spreading throughout countries that are critical supplier bases.

Traffic appeared to be at about level with six months ago, but several exhibitors noted that the floor space for the temporary exhibitors had decreased significantly, with new walls bringing the show spaces more centrally arranged.

Business expectations are slightly better for next year as both suppliers and customers see a stabilizing, and perhaps growth, in the next year. Also, there was a more positive attitude on both sides that the worst had been seen.

"People were more enthusiastic and in general were looking for more color as well as some of our prints," said Robert Lachow, vp, J.B.Martin. "Customers were seeing this period and next year as more of a renewal phase, he added.

For Richloom, "it was an outstanding show. The line was the best in years and all the designs were right in their colorings. In addition, we introduced a hefty line," commented John Ringer, vp.

As with many exhibitors, Richloom saw "a decent amount of furniture manufacturers, a few jobbers, some fabric retailers and outdoor companies." Apart from Showtime, Ringer noted that the firm has acquired the license for the Australian-based Kas in youth and teen bedding.

"Showtime was fabulous," remarked Mike Shelton, president of Valdese. "We're attacking the market with more product than ever before —and we've changed our presentation away from the standard mode."

Overall, Shelton felt that traffic was down and there were fewer exhibitors in the temporary space. But to counter that he feels "there was a better attitude and an upbeat outlook."

"There were fewer retailers and decorative jobbers, but we were pretty aggressive in product introductions and had a good response," said Richard Hanfling, president, Swavelle/Milll Creek.

Keys to lines' successes were textures and cotton warp tapestries in the Swavelle/Mill Creek line and a matelasse that looks like a pebble texture and higher-end silks and velvets in the TFA division.

"People were definitely more upbeat," said Jack Eger, vp for Craftex by Victor. "People were more aggressive in terms of looking for new product." As for the Craftex division acquired earlier this year by the Victor Group, "customers have a new comfort level and reassurance, and we've created more energy." In addition, he noted, "The buy-domestic move is stronger than ever."

Jack Cobb, president of American Decorative Fabrics said: "We were not disappointed, but there were not a lot of new faces." As for the temporary section where ADF is located, "it definitely was a smaller area, and they built false walls."

For Heritage House, "the mood was better than last year when everyone was really concerned about survival. There's not a sense of discouragement and negative talk, but a definite concern about sourcing issues, here and off shore," said Tom Hilb, president.

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