Regional Impact Grows in Las Vegas

Carole Sloan, February 4, 2008

Despite attendance that was less than expected and apparent abbreviated stays by retailers, many home textiles exhibitors at the Las Vegas Market and related exhibitions here last week were relatively pleased with results.

Home textiles exhibitors were located in a number of venues — the two major buildings of the World Market Center, the temporary pavilions at the site and the temporary pavilions at the MGM Grand conference center.

The retailers shopping all or some of the sites were mostly from the West Coast, Mexico, Canada and Latin and South America, said suppliers, which created the sense that this is becoming a significant regional show. For those exhibitors outside the two major buildings, there were complaints that retailers found the sites hard to navigate.

"It was a strange market in a sense; buyers came for an abbreviated period of time — 48 hours versus the full four days," related David Pearce, vp, Dream Fit. "It was a slow start, but we had a good Wednesday and Thursday with our new bamboo, and 600-count and 1000-count Supima cottons a very good reaction. There were a lot more international buyers and more from the West Coast than the East Coast. It's almost like a West Coast show."

For Lonnie Scheps, vp, Hudson Inds., "We love it; we're in the specialty sleep pavilion and it's a group of people with the same interests — everything is open and low-profile so you can see all around." Scheps added "It's been going very well, even for Thursday [the last day] and the event brought in interesting customers. We're a niche business."

The experience for Southern Textiles was enhanced by the presentation — and appointment-only arrangement — of Leggett & Platt, its parent company, for retailers to try the L&P $50,000 bed, said Richard Downing, president of Southern Textiles. "We had a decent market; it's been better than our expectations but those were not exceptional at the start. We had goods response to our product, and got some insight about where we need to develop more, like the youth segment."

"We were very busy, and it was very steady, and we saw a lot of customers that were new to us," said Mark Ferullo, vp, at Texco, a sister company to Rizzy Rugs. The five-year-old bedding company just recently expanded its business from containers-only to everything from special designs to special order bedding that coordinates to the company's rugs, as well as special designs, Ferullo explained. "This end of the business is only five months old."

"I'm a little disappointed," said Taina Jester, assistant sales manager for SDH. "It's been OK, and there's been mostly lookers. I think New York is pulling a lot of people."

For Peacock Alley, "At least half of the people who made appointments showed up by the second day, and everyone wrote. This has been the best of the first three of the year's shows — Dallas and Atlanta preceded this event. There's been a lot of interest and consistent traffic," said Krista Sonnier, director of business development.

"It's been pretty good, and we like the show," said Beth Clinton, a sales rep for Bella Notte. The company saw customers from California and Western Canada and the South as well as Texas. But while the results were generally positive, she added, "There's been a lot of confusion about how to get to our space — there's no direction."

Similarly, while "we like this building (the MGM Grand site) and it's classy and we like the name Con-Text (the home textiles section), it's hard to find," said Mark Knudsen, sales director for Ogalla. Overall, he added, "We had good steady traffic and made excellent contacts with people we wouldn't have seen in other places — especially from the West Coast."

"It's been unbelievable; our eco-friendly product — especially bamboo — is taking the market by storm, more so than organic" said Keith Sorgeloos, president of Home Source. The company, which shows in the space of One Coast, its West Coast rep organization, will be moving in July to Building C from Building B, "a much larger space."

Also in Building B, Walter Chapin, ceo of Company C noted, "The purpose of shows is to position ourselves in the minds of potential customers — to let them touch and feel the merchandise. We write 98% of our business non-show." As for the market here, Chapin said, "It is regional, and we're relatively unknown on the West Coast. And we saw customers from the West Coast, even Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica."

Ridvan Tatargil, ceo of Eastern Accents, another Building B exhibitor reported, "It was OK, good, with many buyers from the big furniture stores and furniture manufacturers."

While concerned "that people were confused about the layout and how to find us," Rodney Carr, director, Softline Home Fashions said, "It was a very good show even though everyone who came specifically to see us, had trouble finding us."

Summing up the appeal of the market here, Jesse Galili, vp of Hallmart Collectibles commented, "The psychology of the buyer coming here is a mix of fun and business. This is a strong regional market and there are enough people coming here who don't go to New York or High Point. We're here for presence, not dollars."

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