Making the grade

Carole Sloan, March 18, 2002

A couple of very interesting things happened last week.

The first was the rebirth of the once-famous Bloomingdale's total home fashion statement via an event across the entire home division.

This kind of happening was a regular event at the store for decades, coming to and end a decade or so ago as it participated in parent company Federated's frugal budget.

But Bloomingdale's was not the only department store to abandon fashion excitement. The once-upon-a-time Dayton's was another superb player on this stage, as was Marshall Field's, once separate but now the name of Dayton's and Hudson's as well.

Granted the "Everything is Coming Up Roses" program is not as reaching nor as dramatic as Bloomingdale's similar events in years gone by.

But it was a start of a new or renewed era — one that could possibly mark the tempering of the coupon epidemic that marks the current "sophisticated" level of marketing in the department store segment.

For everyone's sake, we should hope consumers respond favorably to approaches of this kind.

The second fascinating event last week was the debut of Living Space, a home textiles show featuring the manufacturers and mills producing home textiles in South Africa.

It was held in Cape Town. And, remarkably for a first-time event, the exhibitors put a lot of time, energy and thought into their presentations. Overall, the ambience was a B, not bad for the first time around. There are an awful lot of shows that don't hit that rating after many years.

Besides the ambience was the attitude, both of exhibitors and visitors. Generally the attitude is, "Who needs another home textiles show?" But in Cape Town, the visitors from many countries seemed genuinely pleased with their shopping.

And the exhibitors — the show vets and the newcomers alike — were voicing pleasure with the show, business and most other elements.

What a change from the grousing heard at many other markets.

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