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Vegas Ready to Rock

Home textiles exhibitors at the Las Vegas Market this week are hopeful about the outcome, given the state of the economy, the home furnishings industry and retailing in general.

Attendance at the recent Atlanta and Dallas markets definitely was down, but several exhibitors believe that the hoopla planned by the World Market Center here, including the headline performance by Rod Stewart, will draw some of the retailers who were absent from the other regional shows.

In addition, exhibitors at the former temporary spaces in the pavilions and at off-site locations now are showing in the newly launched Building C, either as temporary or permanent exhibitors.

For Hallmart Collectibles, "It should be an interesting week. There's been a small spike in business in furniture stores because they can dress up their stores easily with these products," said Jesse Galili, vp. But he noted "business is soft at retailing across the board."

Hallmart is featuring its two designer brands, Kathy Ireland and Alexander Julian, as well as showing more eco-friendly products and packaging. And the establishment of a new division for non-furniture accounts, is part of "our always knocking on new doors, and getting new accounts."

"Vegas has to be pulling a good crowd; they do a great job of marketing," said Jason Carr, president of Softline. He added, "For us it has always been a good show — but with gas and airfare prices, who knows? I anticipate that traffic will be down."

As for his business outlook, Carr commented, "In testy times, we are doing the same volume, or slightly down, but margins are definitely less."

For Richard Downing, senior vp, of Leggett & Platt's consumer products group that includes Southern Textiles, "I surprisingly think that it might be a little better than a typical summer market. A lot of people have retrenched so much in the last four to six months, they need to refresh."

Noting that Dallas was "spectacular" in terms of business and Atlanta was good "despite the fact that traffic was off one-third to one-half of last year," Keith Sorgeloos, ceo of Home Source Interantional is looking forward to a good show. "We hope the Dallas and Atlanta retailers that held back will come to Vegas, even if it's just because of the hoopla."

Soorgeloos added, "People are buying and writing decent orders. We offered incentives on an affordable line."

"I think the first days are going to be great," said Cathy Stemmler, national sales manager for SDH. The luxury bedding supplier is in a new showroom in Building C, versus the temporaries, "which I think is going to be great for us." In addition, Stemmler thinks retailers will be in Vegas because of Rod Stewart.

New divisions and major product developments are sparking the hopes of Eastern Accents and Dream Fit. For Ridvan Tatargil, president of Eastern Accents, its new division, Atelier, will fit into another niche in the market.

And for Jerry Wooten, president of Dream Fit, the company's new Quilted Sheet concept will be the star at the company new space in Building C.

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