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Suppliers Committed to High Point

With the High Point Market the last of an ever-growing series of early-year markets for home textiles, exhibitors here this week foresee a possible drop-off in attendance by small retailers. However, a number of home textiles suppliers see strength in the hospitality segment and plan to exhibit at some of those shows as well.

For home textiles exhibitors with major furniture store accounts as part of their customer mix, those retailers are expected to make their usual rounds. "We have appointments with our major retail accounts and catalogs," said Pamela Kline, ceo of Traditions by Pamela Kline.

"But we are sensing a drop-off in smaller store attendance to once a year. They can only do so many shows," she explained. But despite the growing number of shows, now including Las Vegas, and the debut of the luxury linens show in Atlanta earlier this month, Kline said, "I am still committed to High Point. It fits my product and my client base. I'm not feeling threatened."

The impact of the newer shows "is too soon to tell how it will play out," said Mary Grover, ceo of Malabar Grove. High Point is definitely looking good to us. We brought in two shipments this month and we're already sold out."

David Lappert, senior vp, American Century Home Fabrics, is bullish about this week, particularly because of the new show space for the high-end Chelsea Frank bedding collection that will be on the mezzanine of the Suites at Market Square in 2,600 square feet.

The Chelsea Frank bedding was launched two markets back and targeted to the interior design trade. Now Lappert commented, "Our goal this year is to substantially place the line with higher-end furniture retailers."

At the Southern Textiles division of Leggett & Platt, "We're bringing a few new beds out for this market," since the company made a major new product launch at the Las Vegas market in January, said Richard Downing, division president.

Underlying the product launch this week, Downing noted, "We're taking a more aggressively styled and price approach — we're enriching the look of our opening price points. Overall, he said, "After a so-so January, February business was excellent and March has been good."

"We're busy, but much is from the hospitality segment," said John Rose, president of Textillery. "I'm optimistic about this market, but I really don't know what to expect — we have good product, and good customers having success with our product." With the closing of both Churchill Weavers and DJC Designs, "I expect we'll get some spillover business," he added.

For Homesource International, "We see this week pretty much as usual," said Craig Benepe, president of the Home Source brand. The company's rep, Lynn Courtade, long has had a showroom here "and we expect to see a lot of interior designers and decorators and just a few retailers."

The company continues to build its small retailer/interior designer business and it has increased 50% a year over each of the past three years.

"It seems like there are too many shows," said Linda Bentson, president, Thief River Linens. The company also is planning to show at the HD show in Las Vegas this spring to capture more of the hospitality market potential. As for High Point, she emphasized, "We're welcoming interior designers as always."

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