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Mood upbeat, traffic moving as International Area Rug Market gets started

Atlanta -- While the harsh weather kept some retail buyers from arriving here sooner, the crowd is starting to amass here at AmericasMart International Area Rug Market, which is good news for the many suppliers who've come en force with new product introductions.
Here is a quick sampling of some of the highlights so far:

-- Shaw Living is showing fir the first time its new HGTV-branded program, which is divvied into two substrates. The first is an assortment of rugs made of PET fiber from recycled plastic beverage bottles -- representing the first time Shaw employs this fiber on a rug collection. This collection spans 20 whimsical and brightly colored patterns, such as such as the starburst Mia, the striated Dakota, a shadow floral called Charlotte, the elegant paisley dubbed India, and several others. A 5-by-8 is set to retail for $329.
The other HGTV grouping is made of Shaw's own "EverTouch" nylon, making these rugs recyclable. Hitting a higher price bracket of $579 for a 5-by8, these rugs come in more than a dozen more upscale designs in more muted palettes, including the over-scaled Patina pattern, the patchwork skin Kalahari, the tribal Juneau and a transitional floral called Eastern Market.

-- Capel Rugs is bringing custom rugs to a broader customer beyond the high-end market with its new "Creative Concepts by Capel" collection of natural fiber styles. Allen Robertson, vp of sales, said the company has made it a simple three-step process: First, shoppers choose from six bases -- cane wicker, white wicker, grassy mountain, raffia, bramble, and sisal. then, they select a border fabric -- either from Capel's library of 100 fabrics or they can bring their own. And then finally, they pick a size and/or shape.
The price is $400 for a single fabric bordered rug, and $500 for a rug featuring multiple fabrics on the border.
Also new at Capel is its "Convertible" collection of reversible rugs. Comprising seven rugs, each features two different designs -- one on each side -- that apply the same palette for more decorating options within the same color story. Made in India, Convertible rugs are priced at $700 for a 5-by-8, which Robertson noted is a 40% savings from having to buy two rugs instead for the same number of looks.

-- In the spotlight at Surya Inc., which tonight is feting its 35th anniversary, is its newly enhanced marketing efforts for its retail partners. A new quick-ship program allows for customers to order any of the company's 200 best-selling rugs and have them delivered to their doors within 72 hours or less. This program spans "our regular meat and potatoes designs, but it also includes a lot of newer trend styles and some of our branded offerings like Candice Olson." The idea is to offer "instant gratification" to shoppers and preventing retailers "from losing a sale."
Also at the center of this marketing initiative is the revamping of the company's catalog, which features all of the company's 1,500-plus rugs in improved photography settings -- "corner shots that show the true color and texture of our rugs, and not just a flat shot that sometimes doesn't really represent it."
the catalog will launch April 1st.

-- Building on the success of its then- newly launched Karastan Studio collection of nylon rugs, Karastan Rugs came to market with 10 additional transitional and contemporary designs for this growing program. Made domestically like al of the company's other area rugs, Karastan Studio rugs offer consumers a more modern design offering as well as a affordable price point --via its nylon construction -- at $499 for a 5-by-8 than its woolen traditional counterpart, Karastan Original, which typically retails for $999.
Still focused on its high-end customer, Karastan did also bring a new offering for its Original line to market. Under the umbrella Iconoclast, the three new patterns are contemporary and meant to reach a broader luxury consumer.

-- Oriental Weavers is answering to its consumers' demands by expanding its "staple" cross-woven construction offerings with the new Odyssey collection. Made using a "complicated manufacturing process" largely unique to the company, this collection's rug depict an abrash effect and employ up to 36 colors. The machine-made Odyssey has been two years in the making. Its design portfolio spans traditional through contemporary and in between. A 5-by-8 is set to retail for $349.

-- Colonial Williamburg is marking a milestone this market with the first-dime launch of its partnership with a third-party designer, Kate McRostie. Williamsburg has traditionally worked with its vendor partners to create collections for home products that use design elements taken directly from the brand's archive. But with the license alliance with artist McRostie, Williamsburg is developing new patterns and designs that are rather inspired by its archives and legacy but are not exact representations.
For the debut, McRostie has created the new Embroidered Garden pattern for a collection with C & F Enterprises that spans top of bed, dec pillows, accent rugs, guest towels, kitchen towels wall art and tabletop.
Embroidered Garden will be expanded into more product categories with other Williamsburg supplier licensees for future markets.

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