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High Point Readies for Market

Rug Suppliers Hopeful about Traffic Turnout

With retailers cutting back on all expenses, including travel budgets, area rug suppliers are remaining cautiously hopeful about the traffic this week here at market.

But based on buyer attendance at recent markets elsewhere, including Atlanta, Las Vegas and New York, the same suppliers are bracing for some potentially slow movement — and equally slow orders. They are counting on High Point Market to help them drive business even as the economy struggles for improvement.

“I think what we are finding, honestly, is that yes, we have some solid appointments, and we’re going to be seeing some of our big customers at High Point. But we were hoping to see some above-and-beyond action because of what we didn’t see at Vegas, for example,” explained Wendy Reiss, key accounts manager, Somerset, N.J.-based Kas Rugs. “My initial thoughts were that there would be a lot more retailers heading to High Point since Vegas is talking longer to build up into what we were originally expecting — everyone thought it would become the new High Point. But it hasn’t. What it is really becoming is a regional, West Coast market.”

Yet, she continued, “Now we’re hearing some people are choosing not to go to High Point. So even though we are seeing a little spark in the economy, we just aren’t there yet. People are still holding back and watching and waiting. I think it could be better than spring markets and people need to refresh their assortments, and in that way we are hopeful.”

On a similar train of thought is Capel Rugs, based in Troy, N.C. The four-generation, family-owned-and-operated company has come up with “some nifty promotions” via partnerships with some of its licensing partners — including Williamsburg, Bob Timberlake and Biltmore Estate — and will also be offering some new low price points on high-end looks.

“We’re responding to the business conditions that exist,” said Allen Robertson, vp, sales, Capel. “The customer is definitely looking for value.”

Allen added that many retailers have expressed the need to stock up on new product, as inventories are low. “They are coming [to High Point Market] to buy something they can sell quickly. They want sure winners, which is what we always want anyway. So, we have the pricing.”

Capel has created two special rug collections for this cost-conscious customer. One is a classic Chobi look — a copy of a high-end Capel hand-knotted rug— on a machine-made construction that takes the price down to the company’s lowest for that kind of product: $300 for a 5-by-8. The second is a tufted collection called Velvet, which features a lustrous finish as the result of a special wash and is set to retail for $499, compared to the high-end version, which Capel said retails for $800.

Loloi Rugs, based in Dallas, is for the first time offering machine-made outdoor rugs to achieve the more aggressive price point retailers are demanding in the category, said Amir Loloi, owner.

Unlike its other outdoor styles, which comprise four collections of handmade rugs that retail for $249 to $299 for a 5-by-8, Loloi’s new Zeina collection is priced to sell for $139.

Zeina rugs are made of 100% polypropylene and are resistant to mildew, staining and weather damage.

Carlstadt, N.J.-based Momeni is opening a High Point showroom again after a one-year absence from the market “to test the waters for future endeavors,” the company announced last week. Momeni’s new space is in space M314/315 of the International Home Furnishings Center in the Pavilions section.

“As the market begins to turn around, we feel it is important for Momeni to have representation where customers are attending. High Point has been a staple in the home furnishings industry for many years, and during our absence, we realized how key of a market it is to our customers, both new and old,” added Reza Momeni, president. “It was time for us to go back and be a part of it again.”

Coming to market “as always, with high expectations,” is Atlanta-based Jaipur Rugs. The company is armed with a variety of “aggressive promotions,” said vp of sales and marketing Josh Roberts, that include different levels of co-op programs, product-specific special offers, and freight incentives.

“We want to help people grow their business and at the same time position ourselves strongly to get out of the gates fast in 2010,” he said. “We cannot necessarily control the economy, but we can be more aggressive and control our tactics to drive extra business.”

Calhoun, Ga.-based Surya is also equipped with special offers to attract business. “Packaged deals,” explained Seth King, vp of sales and marketing, match a 5-by-8 rug with two decorative pillows, a throw and a piece of wall art to help the retailer sell to its shoppers just that — a packaged deal.

Surya’s packaged deal program comes in three price brackets — $399, $699 and $999 — depending on the rug qualities and styles.

“The idea behind this offer is that the retailer can buy it, land it [have it shipped], and then double it [the retail price],” King said. “Plus, we are offering them free of charge all the merchandising tools and like wall art stands and point-of-purchase signage, to help them sell the collection to customers.”

To further drive traffic to its showroom at High Point — which King said represents Surya’s best performing market for the past four to five years —Surya is also partnering with other licensees of HGTV celebrity decorator Candice Olson to cross-pollinate their showrooms with each others’ retail customers.

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