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The Message Sinks In

EUREKA!!!!!

It's taken the better part of this decade, and goodness knows how many trees to provide the paper to print the columns beseeching home textiles suppliers to look beyond the Top 10, or even the Top 50 for their futures.

But now it seems to be happening, more and more. It's not yet of tsunami proportions, but little by little we're hearing of more home textiles suppliers looking to new distribution channels for survival — and profitable business.

A classic case in point is Home Source International, an almost decade old company that almost from the start decided that better specialty stores were as important in their way as the giants.

Just this go-round of summertime regional shows — Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas — new names are creeping into the vendor listings. Companies like Natori Home, which is sold to the bigger guys by JLA Home, is developing a coast-to-coast, high-end specialty store rep network that is defined both by geography as well as product.

W-C Designs also is dipping its toe into the specialty store arena with offerings both at the recent Atlanta market as well as this week's market in Las Vegas.

Now, granted that none of this news may be especially appealing to the many companies that have long served the upper-end specialty home textiles retailers, but this segment of the market is destined to become crowded.

And there will be fallout, as the newbie suppliers plunge in without doing their homework. They need to truly understand what is involved and needed in this segment of the business from a product perspective, packaging, customer service and more.

The key is not that a supplier to the independent specialty sector attend one market or another. There are those who attend no markets but have rep groups dedicated to this segment of the home textiles business.

Yes, it requires another mindset. Yes, it requires a change in a company's distribution and logistical systems, but it also may be the future success of this business as it plunges more and more into sameness.

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