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Creating Opportunity

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, August 15, 2005

No matter what one's personal feelings are about markets, the August Mini-Market in New York certainly brought out a lot of new product.

And now that the Las Vegas event has had its debut with a minimal home textiles presence, it's clear that the Vegas moguls have not ignored the potential that this home textiles business offers them. From what we are hearing, stay tuned for the next installment scheduled for January 2006.

And just this week, there is a new building — 7 West under the aegis of Merchandise Mart Properties — that will be holding court concurrent with the Goliath of gift shows at the Javits run by George Little Management. At both venues, there will be a home textiles presence — not necessarily with mainstream product for the likes of a Kohl's or Bed Bath & Beyond, but with product for a more specialized retailer audience and their customers. In fact, in both places, one might have to scour the aisles and floors to find some of the lines — but they will be there.

And then, there are the offshore market events, primarily those in Europe that specialize in the stuff that never saw the inside of a container-sized shipment of one-size-fits-all mentality.

Part of the interesting elements involving product introductions that emerged in a small way two weeks ago was that more suppliers were offering choices — in color, in pattern combinations, in trims. This was de rigeur a lifetime ago in home textiles when virtually every bed or window was subject to a reasonable amount of customization for a retailer.

Somehow one gets the feeling that there are some out there — on the supplier and retailer side — that understand not everyone wants the same thing. Trends are great and should be watched, but for every supplier and retailer to follow a trend without understanding the customers, the marketing and the significance of differentiation, is certain to fall into the trap of how low is low?

Even the big guys are identifying avenues of product differentiation that will give them special opportunities even though they might not take up containers per item.

It seems worth the try as this market heads further into a downward pricing spiral.

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