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The show must go on

It's an amazing thing that happens when you look ahead-beyond all the turmoil, challenges and problems of the present.

In the process of building our Home Textiles Today calendar for 2001, a whole lot of new stuff came into play.

Conversations with some of the folks who went to the recent textile show in China brought some new observations into play. And then there were those home textiles mavens who went to India-a huge player in all sorts of home textiles products.

And as we're putting together our game plan for Heimtextil 2001, the super colossus of all home textiles shows, we find there is a dramatic change in United States exhibitor participation-downward, primarily because of the strong dollar, but also because a number of the previous exhibitors were not in the game for the long haul.

As everyone knows, business has its ups and downs-and some of the folks involved in the export arena were attuned only to the good stuff. They were not willing to go through the bad and mediocre times that inevitably come along.

But to be perfectly candid, there's been a whole lot of change in the world of international trade since we started Home Textiles Today some 21 years ago.

What were at one time amateurs in the arena of world trade, now are professionals. And some of these players are disavowing the need for participation in trade shows.

"We have spent a decade or so developing our customer base and we're calling on them regularly" is the pitch we've heard more than once or twice. The logic behind this is that face-to-face visits are more productive than those at a show like Heimtextil, Proposte or even Decosit.

There is a substantial body of evidence to support this point of view.

But there also is something called "presence"-the physical being at an event that brings hundreds or even thousands of people together in a milieu that speaks to a specific marketplace.

There's an awful lot to be said for the benefits of just plain visiting with customers.

More essential is the impression that potential customers have when they don't see a marquee name in a significant venue-whether Heimtextil or any of the myriad shows around the world.

As the emerging nations fabric companies make their presence known, one wonders why the American and European companies are not defending their turf.

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