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In with the new

Kara Cox -- Home Textiles Today, December 18, 2000

Well, here we are at the end of the first year of the millenium or the century or the decade-depending on your point of view. And what a year it's been.

For those of us with a lot of gray or white on the tops of our heads, this has been a year unparalleled for its tumult and awesome change.

We've seen the almost unbelievable chaos or radical change that has affected each and every one of our core mill suppliers. We've seen new companies surge forward and older, entrepreneurial companies take some faltering steps.

And on the retail side, there have been demises-and more are predicted to come, sooner than later. January, not April, is expected to be the cruelest month in this regard.

And beyond everything else, this was the year the landslide that is called off-shore sourcing came upon us full bore.

"Outsourcing" was a word that was infrequently spoken in this marketplace as recently as five years ago. Few could even contemplate what it meant.

Today, it's commonplace. The estimates range as high as half of the sheet production coming in from overseas in the next year or so. (Wow!)

And if people weren't blown away about the exhibitor lineup at Heimtextil, wait until they see what will be unbelievably visible in all the halls in that vast emporium.

While all this is going on, the dumbing down of the product and the marketing, there are some wonderful things happening at retail and on the supplier side.

There are beginnings of entrepreneurial adventures taking place on both sides of the marketplace. We're seeing new suppliers with lots of creative juices in their veins looking to tap into the mainstream home textiles market. But interestingly, lots of these folks are content to build their businesses outside of the home textiles retail mainstream.

And then, across the aisle, are the retail entrepreneurs, who also are moving away from the mainstream, electing to do more than issue chargebacks and impose shelf fees.

What all this means is that there are some folks ready, willing and able to buck the tide and do something different.

For them, and for everyone else, a great new year.

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