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Retailers are suddenly just a little bit nicer

One entirely unexpected, but nonetheless welcome, impact of the liquidation of Pillowtex may be the emergence of a kinder, gentler retailer, with more time to talk and less of an inclination to beat a supplier up for markdown money.

"There is one less supplier, one less place to go, and that gives the supplier a little bit of leverage. Some retailers didn't plan this out very well and need product in a hurry, and they're being very nice," said Rich Roman, president of Revman Industries.

"I don't think anybody's going to see any price increases, that's never going to happen. But it probably means retailers will be easier to deal with on rebates, advertising allowances, return privileges, charge-backs, all the nickel-and-dime things that eat a supplier alive. There are fewer opportunities for that now. Retailers are going to have to cultivate relationships with suppliers in a way that they never had to before. There aren't many suppliers left, and they need every one."

Roman observed, "It may not be a price increase, but this may be the next best thing."

And Roman isn't alone in noticing a change in attitude. Vincent Taviani, executive vp at Keeco, San Francisco, commented, "There's an open-mindedness now among retailers that I believe has been accelerated because of a void left behind by Pillowtex."

Taviani added, "We are also noticing a greater attention span among retailers in general and a willingness to go beyond where they typically place you in their stores. Retailers have also been collaborating with suppliers more in terms of bringing trends they've been observing to the showrooms now as opposed to just telling you what they want and when it is due."

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